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Should you go on a makeup fast?

five two diet 2

There’s a diet everyone is talking about—and it has nothing to do with gluten or kale.

The 5:2 Skin Diet is sweeping the UK, with everyone (celebs included) posting pictures of their makeup-free faces. Now it’s hopping the pond to the U.S., where women are flocking to it for the promise of better skin by doing something so incredibly easy: not putting on makeup.

It’s based off of the popular 5:2 Food Diet, which advocates eating normally five days of the week and fasting for two. In the skin-care version, however, that deprivation is really just the kind of natural beauty you might already be embracing on weekends.

“You wear your regular makeup for five days, but for two days you go without it,” explains makeup artist and natural beauty entrepreneur Indie Lee. “The whole point is that you’re trying to allow your body and skin to detox from your everyday products—no matter how natural they may be.”

We grilled experts on the diet and tried it out for ourselves to see what all the fuss is about.

five two diet
Indie Lee posted this photo of her makeup-free face on her Instagram.

Going without makeup can help your skin issues chill out. Giving your face a break from products can help pinpoint the source of skin problems. It might also help you figure out what’s causing breakouts or dry spots on your skin, a la the elimination diet. “A few days [a week] without any heavy makeup can keep skin in better shape,” says Jessica Weiser, MD, of New York Dermatology Group.

But don’t expect it to be a cure all. Just like you can’t go to the gym twice and expect miracles, you can’t rectify full-blown skin-care woes in two days. “You can’t adequately compensate in two days for the five days of applying potentially skin-damaging and pore-clogging products,” says Dr. Weiser. (“Ideally, establishing a regimen of properly cleansing, hydrating, nutrifying, and sun-protecting the skin on a daily basis is key.”)

Then again, if you’re using clean products, there’s less to detox. Dr. Weiser also points out that if your makeup and skin-care routine is filled with natural products, you don’t need to worry as much about giving your skin a vacation.

“Mineral-based, antioxidant-rich makeup doesn’t pose the same threats to the complexion as chemical-laden products,” she says. That said, Dr. Weiser says that a few days off—even from the good stuff—can still be beneficial.

Gwyneth Paltrow posted these selfies on Instagram—one makeup-free and one makeup-full.
Gwyneth Paltrow posted these selfies on Instagram—one makeup-free and one all done up.

We tried it. My makeup routine is generally pretty simple—I slather on some CC cream, pat on cream blush, and swipe mascara over my lashes. But in the name of journalism I embarked on this ever-so-challenging journey of two makeup-free days.

I makeup-fasted on Monday and Wednesday. By Friday my skin felt softer, had a slight glow, and a few of my pimples had actually retreated. Maybe I’m hallucinating, but the diet certainly wasn’t a hardship, so any benefits were very welcome.

It’s all about loving the skin you’re in. While Lee is a proponent of going makeup free a few days per week, she also loves how this trend is starting a bigger conversation about skin care and makeup.

“People should embrace how they look, au natural,” Lee says. And now that we know there are added benefits to leaving the makeup bag behind a couple days a week, maybe more of us will. —Molly Gallagher

(Photos: Instagram/indie_lee, Instagram/gwynethpaltrow)