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Is less really more? What leaving it out does to your skin

Posted by Lara Schimweg on
Ist weniger wirklich mehr? Was Weglassen mit deiner Haut macht
Minimalism in cosmetics: Will my skin feel better if I simply use less cosmetics?

Charcoal masks, ash soaps, rose water, special serums or even stronger active ingredients such as niacinamide or natural salicylic acid are trendy and promise you beauty or even eternal youth. The market has countless products to offer, depending on your taste, conventional, clean or natural cosmetics. But let's be honest: is that really healthy? And when is it too much for the skin? Or are more potent active ingredients perhaps necessary in skin care?

“Is less really more?”

It is often suggested that you should definitely do a lot to get your skin problems under control and to avoid getting older. The market has a miracle cure for every problem. However, having a lot of bottles with all sorts of active ingredients in the bathroom cupboard is quite expensive in the long run and makes your daily routine really tiring. Everywhere on the internet, on Instagram or YouTube you will be told that your routine should consist of 10 or more different steps.

If you put a lot of products on your skin, there are probably a lot of ingredients that can irritate your skin. Trendy skin care products in particular are often particularly harmful to your skin. It's best to avoid irritating products because you want to care for your skin and not harm it.

You can eliminate these ingredients immediately

Fragrances and drying alcohols


For example, there are the fragrances: They are not exactly skin-friendly, but unfortunately they are found in almost all skin care products. In conventional cosmetics it is usually perfume, with a variety of names. In the Natural cosmetics they are essential oils that replace synthetic fragrances. All types of fragrances can make the skin sensitive and trigger contact allergies . So remember: If a care product smells floral, then it contains irritating fragrances.

drying alcohols

And what about alcohol? Alcohol is often used for preservation in natural cosmetics. Are alcohols bad for the skin? Not all alcohol is a problem. You should just avoid drying alcohols. These should not be included in your skin care routine as they strip your skin of moisture and irritate sensitive skin. A detailed article on alcohols is in progress.

Flower hydrosols

Flower hydrosols, such as rose water, are a hybrid of alcohol and fragrances. Flower hydrosols not only smell wonderful, they are pure and plant-based and that sounds very healthy at first glance. That's why there is a lot of confusion - especially among supporters of natural cosmetics. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that floral water can provide moisture and have nourishing properties on the skin. Pure water, on the other hand, is often criticized as a filler.

Unfortunately, the opposite is the case: water is very mild and many active ingredients and extracts can be dissolved wonderfully in it. Water in your skin care is much more than just filler.

Extracts and active ingredients can also be dissolved in floral water. So at first everything sounds very good. But we're sorry: Unfortunately, flower hydrosols of any kind, whether naturally derived, organic or conventional, are very irritating to your skin. Because all flower hydrolates contain essential oils and drying alcohol. And as if ingredient lists on skin care weren't complicated enough: flower hydrosols make it even more difficult for us because alcohols and essential oils cannot be found in the ingredient list. They do not need to be labeled as they occur naturally in floral water. If you want to know more about it then read our detailed article on rose water here .

Water contains no alcohol or fragrances. Water is therefore the milder solution. By the way, distilled water is always used in cosmetics. This is germ-free and therefore very compatible with the skin. If you would like to use herbal ingredients, you can use products with plant juices. For example , aloe vera juice or green tea contain natural active ingredients that have a positive effect on the skin. Green tea, for example, works against inflammation and regulates sebum production.

Surfactants too harsh

Tensides (washing substances) come into play during cleaning . You need these so that you can gently wash away dirt, your sunscreen or even your make-up from your skin. Some surfactants are very harsh. This means: They have a very strong effect and dry out your skin and deprive it of too many good fats in the long term. Your natural oil protects your skin from losing too much moisture. Particularly sensitive skin reacts very strongly to strong cleansing products. Redness and irritation can occur, which in the long term will make your skin barrier even more sensitive. It's better to look for a cleaning product with very mild surfactants. By the way, soaps contain very harsh surfactants and damage your skin's protective layer. That's why you should avoid soap if possible.

If you leave out the ingredients mentioned from your skin care routine, then you're doing your skin a lot of good.

And then there are a few substances that can be irritating, especially for sensitive skin. And to be on the safe side, it is recommended to avoid these substances too.

Too many vegetable oils

There are a few things to consider here too. Some people react very sensitively to plant oils on their skin. Very oily skin types cannot necessarily cope with every oil. Sometimes oily or sensitive skin cannot tolerate vegetable oils at all. Because oil contains not only one ingredient but also a lot of natural vitamins, minerals and different fatty acids. That sounds very healthy at first. It is: However, these components can also cause irritation. That's why it's important that you use the right vegetable oil for your skin type. This is the only way you can really do something about your dry skin, dandruff, itching or redness. When it comes to vegetable oils, pay attention to whether it is a seed, kernel, pulp or flower oil. Like the flower hydrosols mentioned above, pulp and flower oils contain naturally occurring essential oils, which are fragrances. And these can irritate your skin. Here you can find out more about vegetable oils and their advantages and disadvantages .

So please only apply kernel or seed oils to your skin. Vegetable oils are found in many skin care products or can also be purchased pure. Always be aware that just a few drops of pure oil goes a long way in caring for your skin. You can quickly do too much here. Only very, very dry skin can tolerate larger amounts of oil. That's why ointments and rich creams are better for very dry skin. The same applies to night creams, which are often enriched with a variety of different rich plant oils.

PEG substances

PEG (polyethleneglycol) are very often found in conventional skin care products. They act like an emulsifier and combine oils with water. They are also used as plasticizers and binders. They are very popular in the beauty industry because they improve the consistency of a product.

PEGs are not used in natural cosmetics and are not permitted by the natural cosmetics seals because they are obtained from petroleum. This is bad for the environment and not necessary as there are now a variety of natural alternatives. It is not yet completely clear whether PEGs are harmful to humans. Maybe more light will shine on this in the next few years. PEGs are suspected of making the skin more permeable. As a precaution, you should avoid them, especially if you have sensitive skin.

You should now decide for yourself whether you want them in your skin care or not. If at some point it turns out that they don't have a negative influence, you haven't done anything negative for your skin by leaving them out. If the harmful effects on the body or skin are confirmed, then you have taken good precautions and protected your skin well from it. And it's better for the environment to avoid PEGs anyway.


Parabens are synthetic preservatives. They work excellently against all kinds of germs and ensure that your skin care product lasts for an extremely long time even after opening. Parabens don't have a good reputation: You've probably heard that parabens are harmful and have a negative effect on the hormonal system. But what's the point?

There is evidence that parabens could affect the hormonal system . It is currently unclear whether this applies to humans. However, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, some parabens are considered safe because the low amounts in cosmetic products cannot have a harmful effect on your hormonal system.

However, some parabens are banned, others were recently partially banned in baby products by the EU Commission. The permitted concentration of some parabens has been severely restricted.

You should decide for yourself whether you want to expose your skin to parabens. There are significantly more harmful substances for your skin. However, keep in mind that if you use multiple products, you may end up with more parabens on your skin. There are now a lot of products on the market that do not contain parabens.

Real natural cosmetics are not preserved with parabens. All products here are naturally preserved. The only disadvantage: While parabens make cosmetic products last extremely long, this is not the case with natural cosmetics. Natural cosmetics usually only have a shelf life of around 6 months after opening. You can best assess for yourself whether this is a restriction for you. You will probably use up your skin care in about 3-6 months.

You can also see it as a plus point: only buy what your skin really needs. Only open products when you want them to be used. This way you throw away a lot less and it is much more sustainable for our environment.

One more tip: When it comes to natural products without parabens, always take a close look at how they are preserved. Drying alcohols are often used in combination with essential oils for preservation, which, as mentioned, can be very damaging to your skin.

Many other ingredients, such as Microplastics, silicones, petroleum jelly, uncertified palm oil etc. are simply not necessary. They don't necessarily harm your skin, but they do harm the environment. If you can avoid them, then leave them out so that we can all benefit from our planet for a long time to come.

You can eliminate these products from your care routine

Basic skin care products

Make sure that your skin care has a pH value between 5 and a maximum of 7. This way you can soothe your skin in the long term and reduce redness and inflammation.

But Why is the pH value so important in skin care ? You have an acid mantle on your skin and it protects you from bacteria and viruses every day. These can cause inflammation. Even if your skin comes into contact with water, your pH value can shift after washing. With water it's not so bad. There is harder and softer water: This also has an impact on the skin, but basically the skin manages to shift back into the slightly acidic spectrum. Things look different if you clean your skin with alkaline products such as soaps or if you bathe in alkaline salts. Soaps and other alkaline products attack the natural acid mantle and make your skin more susceptible to viruses and bacteria that can cause inflammation. If your skin care routine has a naturally acidic pH value, you are playing it safe and inflammation can be largely avoided. So in the future look for skin care that has a pH value between 5-6, because on average natural skin is 5.5.

As you can see, there are many ingredients and products that you can eliminate from your skin care routine. However, it can be quite complicated to pay attention to all this when shopping. That's why you get another one here Extra tip : If you use fewer products that contain as few ingredients as possible, it's easier to keep track and you don't overtax your skin.

Summarized for you

  • Many products irritate your skin
  • Fragrances such as perfume and essential oils irritate the skin and can trigger allergies
  • Many alcohols are drying
  • Flower hydrosols naturally contain fragrances and drying alcohol
  • Avoid harsh surfactants in your cleaning
  • You should choose plant oils according to your skin type. If you have very oily skin, it's better to leave oils out
  • PEGs are suspected of making the skin more permeable.
  • Parabens are suspected of having a hormonal effect
  • Alkaline products destroy your skin’s protective layer
  • Eye cream is usually unnecessary
  • With just a few products and ingredients you have more control over your skin care
Lara Schimweg

about the author

Lara Schimweg is the founder of Xeno . She studied sports science and health research and is a trained health and nursing nurse. Lara has rosacea and very sensitive skin.

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