'I'm a beauty editor and these are the only three products I actually use in my skincare routine'

Overwhelmed by new wonder serums and daily new ingredient trends? According to our senior beauty editor, minimalism is the secret behind great skin

samples of cosmetic products smears cream masks glass pipettes with serum cosmetics for face care on a beige background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Skincare minimalism, also known as 'skinimalism' is trending, as it looks like we’re all yearning for easier, quicker routines.

As a Senior Beauty Editor, I’ve experimented with endless products and routines, ranging from the bare minimum to eight+-step routines - featuring everything from the best niacinamide serums to luxe treatments. If it’s been a skincare trend in the last 10 years, I’ve tried it. But here's the kicker, my skin always behaves best when I do barely anything to it. No fancy facials, no futuristic tools and no expensive serums - just my best hyaluronic acid serum, layered in a three-step, no-frills three-step routine. My skin seems to thrives when this is all I do and I’m betting yours would too.

So, if you're curious about what this parred-down style of regime might entail and how it might benefit your skin, here's everything you need to know about skinimalism, straight from the experts...

Why our senior beauty editor recommends minimalism for great skin

Keeping your skincare routine minimal can lead to healthier, happier skin. Plus, it has a whole host of other bonus benefits, like saving you time, money and - crucially - faff.

What is skin minimalism?

“Skincare can be simple and still be incredibly effective - we shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping it straightforward and respecting our skin’s natural balance,” says skincare educator Abi Cleeve. “It’s great that we have become so interested in ingredients, but it’s also important to keep things simple.”

Cleeve speaks a lot of sense, and it’s advice I repeat on almost a daily basis. The beauty world is an incredibly saturated one - with new products and brands launching daily, it sometimes feels like you absolutely need a new ingredient or product. There’s also the social media-fication of people’s routines - if you see someone with plump pillowy skin list their extensive, thousand-pound routine, you may feel swayed. 

The problem with complicated skincare routines

There are periods when I have to test a lot of different products at once. While it's exciting to test new things, it’s also a period of time when my skin is its unhappiest. Overloaded with new ingredients and formulas daily, my skin acts out in spots and sore patches - it's simply overloaded.

“Using too many ingredients, without knowing how your skin will react can create a vicious cycle of no results at best and reactions at worst,” warns Cleeve. This can also harm your skin barrier, which can lead to other issues.

So keeping it simple is easier, cheaper and quicker, and often leads to happier, healthier skin.

Who should try skin minimalism?

Anyone can try skin minimalism. It can work for all skin types, and the best thing is that you don't have to buy anything new to give it a go - simply pull back on your routine for a few weeks and see how your skin reacts.

Of course, if you have certain skin conditions that require specific treatment, this hands-off approach may not work for you. If that's the case, speak to your doctor or dermatologist before changing your routine. 

When I was struggling with acne, one of the best things I did was lay off the intensive treatments and leave my skin alone for a bit. When you have something wrong with your skin, it's tempting to pile on all the solutions to get things back on track but really often worsens the issue. Skin minimalism is a great way of seeing how your skin behaves on its own, giving it a chance to recover without astringent ingredients.

The 3-step routine our senior beauty editor swears by

Whenever I can, I stick to this easy three-step routine. Of course there are times where I stray for the purpose of testing, but this is a brilliant framework to base your routine around. You can add to it with extra 'nice-to-have' steps like your best Vitamin C serum, skincare acids or red light therapy, but this fuss-free routine will steer you right as a base level, or for your entire routine. 

1. Cleanse

Cleansing is the most important step in any skincare routine. There's no point piling on expensive creams and serums onto unclean skin - they won't be able to sink in and get to work properly. 

In the morning I use a cream or gel formula to wash away the previous night's skincare. In the evening I use an oil or balm to remove make-up and SPF, followed by the gel cleanser from the morning to make sure everything's totally cleared away.

2. Hydrate

Whatever your skin type, hydration is so important, whether that's with a serum, one of the best face moisturisers or both. Hydrated skin is healthy, plump and bouncy - it looks younger without having to use any potent actives or astringent exfoliators. 

My skin is naturally quite thirsty, so I load up on hyaluronic acid in two forms, but you could easily skip the serum to make your routine even simpler. 

3. Protect / Treat

"If you’re going to make any changes to your skincare routine, add an SPF to your daily skincare routine and incorporate retinol," says Cleeve, and I wholeheartedly agree. "These are two skincare decisions the future you will thank you for."

In the daytime, sun protection is my priority. To protect from skin cancers, and also because 80% of signs of ageing are caused by sun damage. I'm a year-round SPF50 wearer, whatever the weather. 

In the evening, this third step swaps to an active - usually a retinoid or a glycolic acid. I try to space these out to two or three times a week, and on my nights 'off' I finish my routine with the hydrating night cream. 

Rhiannon Derbyshire
Senior Beauty Editor

Rhiannon Derbyshire is the Senior Beauty Editor for Woman & Home and other publications. 

She started interning for glossy magazines while working alongside her Fashion Journalism degree. There, she was lured to the beauty desk, seduced by matte lipsticks, posh shampoos, and every skincare product imaginable. 10+ years into her career, she can confidently tell you why the best mascaras are always high street, and why SPF is a non-negotiable all year round. Ask her about her curly hair routine, skincare minimalism, and how to find the exact right red lipstick