Recently, I went through a particularly lazy weekend during which I did absolutely nothing to my skin—and I really mean nothing. Sure, I’ve gone weekends without wearing makeup about a zillion times before, but this time I even ignored my skin-care products for two and a half straight days (mainly due to the combo of pure laziness and zero plans). Come Monday morning, guess what? Instead of facing a complexion riddled with breakouts and cracked from dryness, my skin looked great. Amazing, actually. If you’re shocked, trust me—I was too. But, just as breaks can be a good thing—like taking a break from your workouts or taking a break in a relationship—a skincare break can do major favors for your skin. And dermatologists agree with me.
“The fewer products you use on your face, the better,” says Michele Green, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist. “You don’t want to overcomplicate things for your skin, especially since your face is so delicate. Giving your complexion a break from skin-care products will let your skin breathe and rest.”
It’s more obvious that skipping makeup once in a while is great for your skin, because not all makeup has skin-care benefits. “Makeup is like a mask with more than one layer, so laying off from these products will let your skin rest,” says Dr. Green. With skin care, though, she notes that it’ll give your complexion a chance to rejuvenate itself and get some much-needed air. “Giving your skin a break is one of the best things you can do,” she says. “More oxygen will be delivered to your face, and your skin will have more time to repair itself and regenerate its elastin and collagen.”
“Giving your skin a break from skin-care products will let your skin breathe and rest.” —Michele Green, MD
Breaks from your skin care can also be really useful if your complexion has been acting up. “There is a benefit to skin fasting if you are having irritation from skin-care products with certain actives and your skin is burning or irritated, or if you don’t know which skin-care product is causing the irritation,” says Morgan Rabach, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical in New York. “Going off all products and then reintroducing slowly can help.” Though she admits she still believes that gently washing your face every morning and night is important for having clean skin. “The goal is to get on a good regimen where you’re using certain active ingredients like sunscreen, retinol, and glycolic acid, but using them in a way that is tolerated,” she says.
Also, “skip care” shouldn’t be your regimen 100 percent of the time. In the words of Cher Horowitz, only do it sporadically. “As long as you know how your skin works and how it responds to products, skipping your makeup and skin-care products for a few days is absolutely okay,” says Dr. Green. But if you have severe acne, she notes that it might not be a good idea as you’ll “definitely want to continue cleansing your face as you don’t want to over-clog your pores with excess oil and dirt.” It’s more beneficial to those with sensitive skin, according to Dr. Green, since these skin types are more prone to irritation.
If your skin’s in good shape, though? Dr. Rabach says there’s really no reason to skin fast. “It’s really only if you are not tolerating your current routine,” she says. But it’s good to know that your skin doesn’t completely freak out if you happen to have a bout of laziness, like I did (#bless).
If you want to keep things simple, here are the four most important skin-care products a derm says you should have in your routine. And here are foundations with skin-care benefits so that your makeup is working double duty.
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