Skinstreaming Is the Minimalist Approach to Skincare That'll Save You Time (And Money)

Close up of a cracked retinyl palmitate capsule

Liz DeSousa | Byrdie

For some, a multi-step skincare routine is an absolute must. But for many, figuring out what to buy—and how to use it—can be intimidating. And with so many opinions and trends floating around the skincare world, it can be hard to figure out what will work best for you.

Enter skinstreaming, a trend focused on streamlining your skincare routine to just a few key steps. Less can definitely be more when it comes to skincare, and by keeping your regimen simple, you might be able to keep your body's largest organ—your skin—its healthiest and happiest.

To learn more about the science behind skinstreaming, we spoke to board-certified dermatologists Sheila Farhang, MD, and Corey L. Hartman, MD, who gave us some key insights into the trend. Below, you'll find everything you need to know about skinstreaming. 

Meet the Expert

  • Sheila Farhang, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Avant Dermatology + Aesthetics.
  • Corey L. Hartman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology

What Is Skinstreaming?

"Skinstreaming is a popular trend that aims to pare down the number of skincare products you use in your routine [daily] and instead stick to the most important products," Hartman says. "Some people may choose to pare down to only products with multiple active ingredients to get more bang for their buck, [while others] might limit the number of products used to only the most important for their specific skin needs. Either way, the goal is to eliminate unnecessary products or steps in your routine."

The main goal of skinstreaming is to remove nonessential products and instead focus on the ones that are actually doing your skin a service. Theoretically, it's meant to make your life easier and your skin healthier.

What Are the Benefits of Skinstreaming?

  • Increased awareness of ingredients: "One huge benefit of skinstreaming is being very aware of the ingredients you're applying on your skin, so if you do have a reaction to one of them or if one breaks you out, it's a lot easier to figure out which one is the culprit," says Farhang. 
  • Better absorption of active ingredients: Another benefit of skinstreaming is that your skin will likely become better at soaking up active ingredients. "By choosing to skinstream, you may find that your skin [can] better absorb active ingredients, which in turn can mean that you'll see the benefits of your routine more consistently," Hartman says. 
  • Saving money: Not only is skinstreaming a good idea for your skin, but it will also save you lots of money in the long run. Instead of feeling obligated to buy the latest viral product, you can rest easy knowing your skin (and wallet) are safe. 

Are There Any Cons to Skinstreaming?

There aren't necessarily any negatives to skinstreaming, but it is important to consult your dermatologist before taking the plunge—especially if you are managing any skin conditions like eczema or rosacea. "If you eliminate a product that has been helping your skin, you may find that your skincare concern does not [improve]," Hartman says, "If you have a medical skin condition, you want to ensure you don't remove a prescription product."

If you fall into this bracket, you'll want to take a good, hard look at the ingredients you're using to make sure that you don't cut out something that's aiding your skin's health. 

How Do You Skinstream?

Both Hartman and Farhang agree there is a "holy trinity" when it comes to skinstreaming and that there are products you should definitely utilize in your routine. These include sunscreen, an antioxidant, and retinol. You should also throw in a cleanser for good measure.

  1. Cleanser: To kick off your routine, Farhang suggests using a gentle cleanser, like Native's Unscented Sensitive Facial Cleanser ($10). "Sticking with something gentle allows you to use more actives and other parts of your routine," she says. Cleansers should be used morning and night, especially when you've been wearing makeup.
  2. Antioxidant: From there, you can move on to an antioxidant of your choice, such as vitamin C, a powerhouse ingredient that brightens, aids in fading hyperpigmentation, and helps with collagen production. "Eight Saints' Cloud Whip C Cream ($33) can act as your moisturizer as well," Farhang says. "It's packed with maximum antioxidant protection, blocks free radicals, fades sun spots, and prevents discoloration while locking in moisture."
  3. Sunscreen: To lock everything in, your final step in the morning should be applying sunscreen. "Protect your skin with a sunscreen with at least SPF 30," Hartman says. "And if you're going to be outside all day, actually take the time to reapply every two hours. Don't let the sun undo what you're trying to fix." We recommend EltaMD's UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 ($41).
  4. Retinol: For your nighttime routine, you can add in retinol like ROC's Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Max Hydration Cream ($30), which can be used as early as your mid-20s. "A retinol, or even better yet, a retinoid, will stimulate collagen production and expedite cellular turnover, revealing newer, fresher, smoother, and more even-toned skin," Hartman explains.

Are There Alternatives to Skinstreaming?

Skinstreaming is meant to make your skincare routine easier to manage and overall better for your skin's health. While there aren't really any alternatives to the trend, Hartman does have one suggestion: "An alternative could just be to remove one product versus removing multiples." This is a safe way to begin your journey of skinstreaming, too.

The Final Takeaway

Skinstreaming is worth trying if you want to make your skincare routine work smarter, not harder. By eliminating products that might not actually benefit your skin (or, at the very least, are not actively improving it), you can save time and money—and maybe cultivate a glowier and more even complexion in the process.

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