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written by Ipek Karakaya

When I was first introduced to skincare as a teenager, I found it hard to be consistent with a routine. I would go for days without washing my face if I didn’t necessarily have to leave the house. 

Now they call it skin-fasting. (Duh.) 

A lot has changed ever since. I’ve stepped into my mid-20s, and so did my skin. My beauty routine evolved like a Pokemon. Best time to give skin-fasting a try, I thought. Before doing so, I consulted an expert dermatologist – and a dear friend of many years: Ahu Arslan. She told me in the very beginning what she had to say the last. 

“Skin-fasting does not make sense to me.”

If you have a routine that works for you, better not quit it. The skin needs protection just like any other organ. You can quit over-cleansing, which is good, but you need an SPF moisturizer nevertheless. If your regimen is compatible with the structure of your skin and helps improve the health and your looks, why leave it?”

Hell to the yes, she was right. But I was more of a ‘live and learn’ type. 

“Not cleansing an acne-prone or oily skin causes clogged pores and comedones. Leaving moisturizers out of the routine of dry skin could cause eczema or even inflammation. Keeping away from skincare is also inconvenient for people who are extremely prone to blemishes.”

The cherry on top, the skin has got an ageing mechanism that follows natural progress. How dare one tries to anti-age a broken skin? 

I have dry combination skin, but fungal acne and allergies are all 99 of my problems. My daily regimen before fasting offered an amusing medley of popular ingredients: 

In the morning, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser gel. Then, I spray alcohol-free triple-distilled rose water to my face and neck as a tonic. After it dries out, I apply Aloe Vera gel for a soothing effect and finish with my one and only SPF50 sunblock cream. 

In the evening, my salicylic-acid containing peeler/cleanser works its magic. I spray my good ol’ rose water after cleansing and apply rosehip seed oil right before my beauty sleep.

10 days ago, I’ve put on a moisturizing sheet mask and went to bed. The following day, I single-mindedly woke up to a week without skincare products. 

The first two days were no sweat. Though on the third day, I understood what ‘sebum’ really is. When I wash my face solely with water in the morning, a dry and stretchy feeling took over my face, and it wasn’t until a few hours that it disappeared. (I dare to make an educated guess that my skin was busy creating sebum for moisturization. Hence, an oily T-Zone, and this is not a rapper’s name.)

I did not even put on sunblock because I would have to wash it away at night, which would break my fast, and mama did not raise a quitter. 

By the end of the week, fungal acne and sebum started walking hand in hand to clog the pores I spent years keeping unclogged. My pores reached the size of quinoa, but a cooked one. 

I made my point, Ahu made her point, so I ended my fast. I reached for my favorite clay mask like a long lost lover.

The bottom line is, if your beauty routine answers your needs, then a skin-fast isn’t worth it. Yet, there are times skin-fasting could be beneficial:

1- If the skin undergoes complex chemicals or intensive make-up daily and needs a break,

2- If you are experiencing an adverse effect from using a combination of products and want to find the culprit.

Contrary to popular belief, detoxifying is not one of them. The skin does not adapt to the products’ effects, neither does it forget what it naturally does. Detoxification is a job best handled by your liver. 

Skin fasting did one thing right: now, I pay better attention to the products that help me maintain glowing skin for a more extended time. Like I said, you just have to live and learn.

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