Hands Off: Why Less is More for Glowing Skin
Resist the temptation to throw the kitchen sink at your irritated skin… it turns out you may be needing less (not more!) of a good thing for a soothed and healthy complexion.
In a world filled with 12-step skin routines and high-end chemicals, we are often told that our skin problems can only be solved by finding the perfect balance of treatments. Or that healthy skin requires constant attention (and tweaking) in order to earn that radiant glow.
We know that less is more for your skin. This includes the number of ingredients in your products as well as the number of products you use on a daily basis. But did you know that you can also do too much to your skin?
At Iremia Skincare our belief is that your skin doesn’t need a lot of products, just a few great ones, and that the routine you build can be soothing and supportive to your natural skin. However, even with great products, how often you use them - and how you use them - could be the difference between frustrated skin and a glowing complexion.
What is “Less is More” for Your Skin, and Why Does it Matter?
The truth is (and the skincare industry does not talk enough about it),your skin already knows how to moisturize and balance out oils naturally. In fact, your skin is extremely skilled at creating oil to protect itself from external factors such as allergens and pathogens, as well as staying hydrated. And when we talk about hydration, we’re really talking about water balance: holding water in the skin, and preventing the environment from stripping water out.
So why do most of us need a little assistance in skin maintenance if the skin can naturally balance itself? While some people experience skin irritation because their skin either over-or under-produces natural oils, factors such as wearing makeup or environmental pollution create build-up that needs to be removed, and cleansing skin can often impact skin’s natural oils and therefore disrupt the balancing abilities of the skin.
So why is less actually more?The more we interfere with the skin’s natural balancing, the more we have to correct or balance it out ourselves. Therefore, a routine that aims to support the skin’s own balancing (rather than attempting to override it) will lead to a more natural and sustainable skincare routine.
To help the skin do its job,we want products that enhance or mimic what the body does naturally - for example, jojoba oil in our Restorative Facial Oil is the closest natural replacement to sebum, the oil produced by the skin.
But remember, it’s not just about the quality of products: some ingredients work great on your skin but are too strong to use every day (such as exfoliating ingredients). Further, applying too many products all at once can suffocate your skin and interfere with natural balancing (not to mention preventing the effective ingredients from properly sinking into your skin).
So how do we walk the line between helping our skin, and hurting it? Let’s learn more about what happens when we do too much, so you can strike the right balance for your uniquely radiant skin.
How to Do Less for Better Skin
Many people who have sensitive skin may simply be over-cleansing their face.
When it comes to cleansing, the number one thing to keep in mind is that your skin is the barrier between the outside world and your body, and the oil that your skin naturally produces (sebum) helps to achieve this protective function. Over-cleansing your skin, however, means you are stripping your skin of the sebum needed to keep your skin protected and healthy.
Over-cleansing destroys skin barrier function, which allows bacteria to enter and cause breakouts, redness, and irritation. And if you’re feeling that tight, “squeaky clean” feeling after washing your face? That’s a tell-tale sign of overwashed and stripped skin.
In order to recover and maintain your skin’s natural moisture barrier,try limiting any face cleansing to the evening only: cleanse with a gentle, pH-balancing cream or oil cleanser and lukewarm water at night to remove the daily grime and makeup, followed by serums and moisturizers which nourish your acid mantle while you sleep. By not washing off hydration support in the morning, you’re giving the active ingredients extra time to do their job - the black oat extract in our All-Calm Facial Mist, for example, supports the skin’s own natural moisturizing factor and helps to reduce water loss, which will help repair from any over-cleansing. As long as your pillows and pillowcases are cleaned regularly, a little oil on your face in the morning is your friend, not your foe!
Excessively red or irritated skin could be an indication of over-exfoliation.
What many people do not know is that our skin naturally exfoliates itself through programmed cell turnover (which takes 28 days from start to finish), meaning that if your skin has everything it needs to perform optimally, it doesn’t need your help exfoliating.
But there are plenty of factors that can slow the skin cell turnover process, such as a weakened skin barrier from over-cleansing, imbalanced oil production, or pollution. Therefore exfoliation, when done properly, is a way you can help your skin stay fresh and healthy by improving cell turnover. However, if you mix and match different types of exfoliators or use a single product too often, exfoliants have the potential to do more harm than good.
Experts recommend only exfoliating only once or twice a week, and if you’re using a chemical exfoliator, be sure to test them out slowly. In general, those with sensitive and dry skin can try lactic or glycolic acids, whereas oily or acne-prone skin could try salicylic acid. No matter the form, make sure to treat your skin gently and give it time to tell you what it needs: reactivity is your skin communicating to you.
As we discussed, moisturizing - whether through natural oils or external products - helps to rehydrate the outer layer of the skin, seal in moisture, and protect against external factors. Over-moisturizing, however, can send the wrong message to your skin.
Some dermatologists suggestthat by using moisturizer too often, the skin’s water reservoirs may receive signals that less hydration support is needed, which impacts the natural hydration function. When this happens, we may feel our skin dehydrating and... we apply more moisturizer, creating a vicious cycle where the skin is contributing less to hydration maintenance and we have to do the heavy lifting ourselves. However, the science is not entirely conclusive on this, as skin dryness is caused by both internal and external stressors.
Regardless, by using the wrong type of moisturizer for our skin type (which becomes especially apparent if we’re overusing), we can also experience an increase in clogged pores, blackheads, and excess oil production. Try moisturizing once or twice a day only, and aim for gentle products that will relax and restore your skin - our award-winning Soothing Lotion is a great option for all skin types, and with calming ingredients like aloe vera, calendula and Manuka honey, it creates a comforting effect without the heaviness.
Simple reminders for keeping it simple
- Regularly review your skincare routine. Pay attention to changes in oil or increased dryness - it may be time to scale back the number of products you’re using, or to shift up your routine.
- Pick products for your skin type. Using skincare products that are incompatible with your skin type can lead to imbalances or reactivity.
- Choose your skincare products wisely. Do your research (we have some great resources in our blog!) and look for ingredients that enhance and support the natural functions of your skin.
- Keep your skincare minimal. There is no need to stress out your skin by doing too much to it. Listen to your skin, give it time to breathe, and find your unique way to come into balance, naturally.