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What is skinimalism and is it for you?

16 Jan 2023 • 5 min read


What is 'skinimalism' and is it for you?

Expertly reviewed by Dr Maha Shariff, Aesthetic Doctor & General Practitioner

Ever feel overwhelmed with the seemingly never-ending skincare products you “should” be using? Some people swear by their 15-step morning skincare regime…but, let’s face it, it’s not for everyone. 

If you’re nodding in agreement, you may already be a skinimalist at heart – and it turns out you could be on to something. Excessive skincare regimes can leave your skin barrier vulnerable, as well as increasing redness and sometimes even causing breakouts. Skinimalism is here to help…

First, you might want to find out your skin type to see which of our picks are best for you.

What is skinimalism?

According to Pinterest’s Trend Predictions Report,  ‘Skinimalism is the new glow up’.1 Gone are the days of glorified plastered on make-up and cake-y faces; more and more people are embracing ‘slow’ beauty to let their natural skin texture shine. Not only is skinimalism a breath of fresh air for your skin, it’s also refreshingly simple and sustainable.

How does skinimalism work?

There are no set rules when it comes to this beauty trend. The aim is to help protect the skin by keeping things simple.

When we go overboard with different products, swap and change techniques willy-nilly, and combine too many active ingredients, our skin can get overwhelmed and overstimulated.

Ultimately, this can confuse our skin and means we won’t see the benefits we tried so hard to achieve in the first place!

Is skinimalism for you?

While trends come and go, there’s something about skinimalism that resonates with life in 2023.

Many of us ditched the full face of makeup soon into our lockdown Zooms. We fought battles between makeup and masks (and let the masks win, obviously).

In the midst of everything going on, we relished simple pleasures and the great outdoors.

  1. It clears out your cabinet

Skinimalism aims to cut down on our usage and focus on the products that benefit us.

It’s no longer about buying the whole range, but about incorporating a select few items into our daily skincare routine.

Of course, this is a huge weight off our wallets.

But it might also lead us to consider more carefully the role and benefit of each product for our individual lifestyle and skin type.

  1. It simplifies your routine…

Maybe there’s a serum out there that does the job of three of your current products.

It goes without saying that cutting down on your skincare products means a far more efficient skincare routine.

Not only can you grab a few extra minutes in bed, but you’re far more likely to commit to a routine that feels achievable and motivating.

  1. …and can help you establish a new one

A regular, efficient skincare regime is far more likely to work wonders on your skin than a long, pointless, inconsistent one.

Some of us just don’t enjoy the process of “pampering” with product after product. Or, we do, but maybe only once a week… and it’s the first thing to disappear when life gets busy.  

A 10-minute process where you know everything makes a difference? That’s more like it.

  1. It’s potentially cheaper

One unwelcome lesson from 2022 and into 2023 is that we’re cutting back on our spending habits.

With the rising cost of living, we’re forced to think about what we can and can’t let go of.

While it’s never a blessing to be forced into thriftiness, skinimalism could help us save a few extra pounds when they need to go elsewhere.

  1. Less products could equal fewer triggers

Surely the point of all our skincare products is that they improve our skin.

But overdoing it could congest, dry out, or make your face more sensitive. 

Your routine will work far better on a clean slate than skin that’s still recovering from yesterday’s barrage of products.

This is particularly important given the effortless-yet-glowing finish that “clean girl” makeup has introduced.

So, what now?

Fancy giving skinimalism a try? Here are a few pointers from the H&B beauty team:

  1. Be careful combining active ingredients

A lot of people incorporate several one-ingredient beauty goodies into their routine, thinking they are being super-attentive to their skin’s every need.

However, some active ingredients will work against each other, some will enhance each other, and some will simply do the same thing.

Layering product after product can cause “pilling” (the tiny clumps that sit on the surface of your skin). This is especially the case when you’re mixing oil- and water-based beauty.

Our advice is to leave this to the professional skincare formulators and go for fewer, well-made formulas.

  1. Mind your timing

The time-saving element of skinimalism is definitely a plus.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can slap everything on in 5 minutes!

Some products need time to soak in or can make your skin temporarily sensitive. For example, vitamin C and retinol are safe to use a few hours apart, but can cause irritation together.

Using products in the best, safest way will help keep you glowing just as skinimalism intended.

  1. Celebrate your small wins

It’s not just your skin and bank balance that can take the hit in an excessive skin routine.

It’s better for the environment to take your regime back to basics.

This way, you’re cutting down on some of the environmental damage that production lines, packaging, and transport can amass

The 12 best products to achieve skinimalism

We’ve rounded up 12 products for you to start your skinimalism journey.

True to the minimal ethos, you won’t need them all – but each versatile, sustainable pick can help you build a routine that’s right for you.


Cleanser for dry and sensitive skin

Dry and sensitive skin tends to like hydrating, creamy cleansers that clear away dirt without stripping your skin of oils.

If you’re a fan of double-cleansing, we’d recommend an oil-based, balm, or cream cleanser to begin with. Then, move onto a very gentle foaming cleanser or gel cleanser for your second cleanse at night.

We’d recommend:

Ethique SuperStar! Face Cleanser & Makeup Remover

  • Solid cleansing bar – great to take on the go
  • Suitable for all skin types (especially dry)
  • 2-in-1 face cleanser and makeup remover
  • Super hydrating without being heavy
  • Non-drying cleanser that keeps skin moisturised

Cleanser for oily or combination skin

Oily skin tends to be prone to blemishes and breakouts, so you should go for a foaming cleanser that contains exfoliating acids like salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), a chemical exfoliant which helps shift dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin. It reveals a new, fresh layer, which can help you look smoother and brighter.

AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) produce similar effects, but they can also help to lighten dark spots, redness, and hyperpigmentation. 

Sukin Foaming Cleanser

  • A non-drying, gentle cleanser for normal to oily skin types.
  • Gentle on oily and sensitive skin
  • Removes makeup, daily dirt buildup, and excess oils to reveal a balanced, cleansed complexion
  • Chamomile, aloe vera, green tea, and witch hazel soothe and calm the skin
  • Rich in antioxidants to nourish and help protect
  • Provides light hydration without overwhelming oily skin

Cleansers for "normal" skin

Everyone’s skin is different, but you can’t go too wrong with a cleanser on “normal” skin. You’re lucky that gels, balms, and cream cleansers should all work for you.

Focus on finding one that’s kind to skin, but effective at removing dirt, oil, and makeup, too.

Smart Skin Golden Jelly Cleanser

  • Innovative jelly-to-milk formula
  • Sweet almond oil soothes and helps to even out skin texture
  • Orange fruit water provides antioxidant properties
  • Nourishing, purifying, and cleansing
  • Gentle enough for the sensitive eye area
  • Suitable for morning and night


One very, very important skincare product you should keep in your arsenal is a high-quality SPF. SPF products protect your skin against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. They can help to delay or improve the appearance of signs of ageing, like fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

Look for a broad spectrum SPF, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Also, it’s best to understand what the numbers on the bottle mean. You’ll know the factor (for example, 15, 30, or 50).  Use 30 or higher every day, even if it’s not sunny outside.

It’s easy just to look at the factor, but you should also check out the PA rating if provided – this is the UVA cover specifically. They range from PA+ to PA++++, with PA++++ providing the most UVA protection.

SPF + moisturiser

Antipodes Immortal SPF15 Face & Body Moisturiser

  • Vegetarian and vegan
  • Brightens your skin while it protects for a soft glow
  • Hyaluronic acid and reishi mushroom help to maintain the appearance of youthful skin
  • Suitable as a light daily moisturiser


Next, it’s time to get your glow on! Antioxidant-rich vitamin C serums and hydrating hyaluronic serums are a good place to start for most.

They’re both kind to most skin types, but they offer different benefits:

  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helps protect against free radical damage caused by UV rays and pollution. It can also help to brighten your complexion. 
  • Hyaluronic acid is a super hydrator that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water.² It’s a go-to for moisturised, glowing skin.

Holland & Barrett Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid Serum, 30ml

  • Brightens for happier, healthier-looking skin
  • Moisturises, refreshes, and restores for a natural glow
  • Helps to shift dull, dry patches
  • 100% naturally derived
  • Suitable for normal and combination skin types

Vitamin C serum

Vitaskin Vitamin C Collagen Boosting Serum

  • Vitamin C may support smoother, brighter skin
  • Suitable for all skin types (especially dry)
  • Super-hydrating without being heavy
  • Rich in antioxidants to help plump the skin


There’s no doubt that keeping your skin moisturised and hydrated is key for glowing, healthy skin. But, as we discussed above, when it comes to moisturisers’ less is often more. Instead, try investing in one high-quality moisturiser instead of slathering on a both a day and night cream every day.

Moisturiser for dry and sensitive skin

A good moisturiser for dry and sensitive skin will contain rich, hydrating natural ingredients like shea butter.

Weleda Skin Food Light, 75ml

  • Certified natural skin care
  • Free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colourants, and raw materials
  • Derived from mineral oils
  • Suitable for vegetarians

Moisturiser for oily skin

Oily skin needs hydration, too! Even if seems counterproductive, it’s important, as hydration is different from sebum (oil) production.

Skin produces sebum in response to dryness – so if your oily skin isn’t receiving the moisture it needs, it will compensate by becoming even more oily.

Choose a hyaluronic acid serum to hydrate your oily skin. Then, opt for a lightweight moisturise that helps lock in hydration while keeping greasiness at bay.

Sea Magik Flat Matte Epsom Moisturiser

  • Promotes a naturally matte finish
  • Ideal for use as a makeup primer
  • Formulated with Epsom salt minerals and strengthening seaweed
  • Leaves skin naturally hydrated without excess shine
  • Contains soothing aloe vera to calm your complexion
  • Suitable for all skin types, particularly oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin

Moisturiser for ‘normal skin

If your skin is not dry or oily, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to moisturisers.

Skin & Tonic Daily Renewal Bio-Retinol Moisturiser

  • Formulated with dew bean extract, a plant-based bio-retinol
  • Helps to smooth fine lines
  • Encourages cellular renewal for fresh, rejuvenated skin
  • Gentle enough for day and night use
  • Oat lipids strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier

BB and CC creams

Skinimalism is all about the “barely there” – the products that enhance your natural beauty without the effort or excess.

If heavier foundation isn’t your thing (or you just fancy a lighter day), BB and CC creams are a great way of evening out your skin tone.

Short for beauty/blemish balm and colour correcting creams, they’ll provide light coverage and a little extra hydration.

BB creams are the lightest in coverage, while CC creams offer a little more – though they’re still more subtle than your usual foundation.

Pair with a slick of concealer and a lip balm or rock them alone!

Inika Certified Organic BB Cream

  • 3-in-1 primer, moisturiser, and foundation
  • Easy to apply on the go

  • Soft, easily blendable texture
  • Fatty acids derived from prickly pear, pomegranate, avocado, and jojoba oils moisturise and nourish
  • Available in 7 shades

Night treatment

When the day is done and your feet are well and truly up, try extending that rest and relaxation to your skin.

After cleansing the day away, a good retinoid or bio-retinoid night serum, oil, or cream can show your skin some TLC – especially if you’re over 25.

However, please note: do not use retinol, retinoids, or vitamin A derivatives if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

VitaSkin Vitamin A Rejuvenating Night Serum

  • This powerful Serum is packed with Retinoids and Carrot Seed Oil
  • Contains high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin E
  • Helps promote softer, smoother and visibly younger-looking skin

REN Bio Retinoid Youth Concentrate Oil

  • White Beggar’s Tick Flower extract smooths the appearance of wrinkles and renews skin texture
  • Plant-based retinol alternative, bakuchiol, has similar effects when it comes to softening fine lines
  • Rosehip seed oil is a source of vitamin A and can help contribute towards a more youthful appearance
  • Gentle enough for sensitive skin
  • Handpicked content: Bring on the bakuchiol!

Oleus Retinol Serum

  • Uses retinol, which can help minimise fine lines and support more youthful-looking skin⁴
  • Ideal for dry, dehydrated, and mature skin
  • Suitable for use alone or mixed into the Oleus Oil Free Moisturiser

If you have dry skin, it’s advised you follow with a moisturiser (no special night cream necessary.

Please also remember that retinoids can cause irritation and sensitivity, which is why you should gradually build up to using it every day. Try using it twice a week at first and slowly increase from there while monitoring how your skin reacts to it, and always use an SPF in the day.

Those with dry and sensitive skin might prefer a “sandwich approach”, where you can buffer the effects of retinoids by using a moisturiser before and after use.

Try using it twice a week at first and slowly increase from there while monitoring how your skin reacts to it. Always use an SPF of at least 30, no matter the weather.

The final say

  • Using lots of different skincare products may not be suitable for everyone – they cost a lot, can take time, and may contribute to skin sensitivity and redness
  • “Skinimalism” is a beauty trend that encourages you to focus on skincare quality, not quantity
  • It suggests that using fewer products with high-quality formulations can be better for your skin than using lots of different types
  • It also encourages people to embrace their natural skin appearance and texture – you’re beautiful enough already!
  • Taking up skinimalism could save you time, money, and may also be better for the environment
  • It’s not for everyone, though! If you have skin concerns, always consult with a professional who can advise you individually.

Last updated: 16 January 2023



Author: Dr Maha ShariffAesthetic Doctor & General Practitioner

MRCGP Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, London, 2015

Dr Maha Shariff is an Aesthetic Doctor and General Practitioner in the NHS. 

As an Aesthetic Doctor, the areas Maha specialises in include skin treatments and non-surgical aesthetic treatments. Maha is passionate about skin health and helping her patients to look and feel their best, understand how to look after and love their skin. She believes that you deserve healthy, radiant skin at every age.

She works in a GP Surgery in North London, having completed her GP training from the prestigious St Mary’s GP Training Scheme in 2015. She loves the continuity of care and really getting to know her patients, having been inspired by her own GP. She feels blessed for the opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives through both her aesthetics and NHS work.

In her spare time, Maha enjoys time with her family, making delicious home cooked food, gardening and travelling.


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