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Is less really more? Part 1: What omission does to your skin

Posted by Lara Schimweg on
Ist weniger wirklich mehr? Teil 1: 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 taste, conventional, clean or natural cosmetics. But honestly, is that really healthy? And when is it too much for the skin? Or are more potent active ingredients in skin care perhaps necessary?

"Is less really more?"

Today we are starting a four-part series of articles on this question. Today it's about what you can definitely leave out. Another part appears every day for the next three days. We will look at which products might be good for your skin and what your routine could look like in the future.

It is often suggested that you should definitely do a lot to get your skin problems under control and to avoid aging. The market has a miracle cure ready for you for every little problem. However, having lots of bottles with all sorts of active ingredients in the bathroom cabinet is quite expensive in the long run and also makes your daily routine really exhausting. Everywhere on the web, 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, chances are they also have a lot of ingredients that can irritate your skin. Especially the trendy skin care products are often particularly harmful to your skin. It is best to avoid irritating products, because you want to care for your skin and not damage it.

You can delete 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 mostly perfume, with a wide variety of names. In the natural cosmetics 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 as a preservative in natural cosmetics. Are alcohols bad for your skin? Not all alcohols are a problem. You should only avoid drying alcohols. These should not be included in your skincare regimen, as they dehydrate your skin and irritate sensitive skin. A detailed article on alcohols is in progress.

flower hydrolates

Flower hydrosols, such as rose water, are a hybrid of alcohol and fragrances. Flower hydrosols not only smell wonderful, they are pure and herbal and that sounds very healthy at first glance. That is why there is also a great deal of confusion - especially among supporters of natural cosmetics. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that floral water can moisturize and have nourishing properties on the skin. Pure water, on the other hand, is often decried as a filler.

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

Extracts and active ingredients can also be dissolved in flower water. So at first it all sounds very good. But we are sorry: Unfortunately, flower hydrosols of all kinds, 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 products weren't complicated enough: flower hydrosols make it even harder for us, because alcohols and essential oils can't 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 in-depth article on rose water here .

Water contains no alcohol and no fragrances. This makes water the milder solution. Incidentally, distilled water is always used in cosmetics. This is germ-free and therefore very well tolerated by 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

Surfactants (washing substances) come into play during cleaning. You need these so that you can gently wash away dirt, your sunscreen or 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 remove too many good fats from it in the long run. Your natural fat protects your skin from losing too much moisture. Particularly sensitive skin reacts very strongly to strong cleaning products. Redness and irritation can occur, which in the long run make your skin barrier even more sensitive. Instead, look for a cleaning product with very mild surfactants. An article about mild cleaning and the different surfactants is already in progress and will appear here shortly. Incidentally, soaps contain very harsh surfactants and damage the protective layer of your skin. That's why you should avoid soap if possible.

If you omit the ingredients mentioned from your skin care routine, then you are already doing your skin a lot of good.

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

Too many vegetable oils

Again, there are a few things to keep in mind. Some people are very sensitive to vegetable oil on their skin. Very oily skin types do not necessarily get along with every oil. Sometimes oily or sensitive skin does not tolerate vegetable oils at all. Because oil not only contains one ingredient but also a lot of natural vitamins, minerals and different fatty acids. That sounds very healthy at first. It is: However, these ingredients can also cause irritation. That's why it's important to 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, be sure to check whether they are seed, kernel, pulp or flower oils. Like the flower hydrosols mentioned above, pulp and flower oils contain naturally occurring essential oils that are classified as fragrances. And these can irritate your skin. An article on the use of pure facial oils in skin care is in progress and will appear here soon.

So please only apply kernel or seed oils to the skin. Vegetable oils are found in many skin care products or can be purchased on their own. Always be aware that a few drops of pure oil is already a lot of care for your skin. Here you can quickly do too much. Only very, very dry skin can tolerate larger amounts of oil. That is 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 vegetable oils. Most skin types just don't need a night cream. Even if the beauty industry keeps trying to sell it to you.

PEG substances

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

PEGs are not used in natural cosmetics and are not permitted by the natural cosmetics seal because they are derived from petroleum. This is bad for the environment and not necessary as there are now a variety of natural alternatives. Whether PEGs are harmful to humans has not yet been fully clarified. Maybe there will be more light in the next few years. PEGs are suspected of making the skin more permeable. As a precaution, you should therefore avoid them, especially if you have sensitive skin.

You should now decide for yourself whether you want them in your skin care routine or not. If at some point it turns out that they don't have a negative impact, you haven't done anything negative for your skin if you omit them. If the harmful effect on the body or skin is confirmed, then you have taken good precautions and protected your skin from it. And for the environment it's better not to use PEGs anyway.


Parabens are synthetic preservatives. They are excellent against all kinds of germs and thus ensure that your skin care is extremely durable 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 endocrine system. But what's up with that?

There is evidence that parabens may affect the endocrine system . Whether this applies to humans is currently unclear. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, however, some parabens are considered safe because you cannot have the harmful effect on your hormone system with the low amounts in cosmetic products.

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

You should decide for yourself whether you want to expose your skin to parabens. There are much more harmful substances for your skin. However, remember 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. Here all products are preserved in a natural way. The only downside: While parabens make cosmetic products last extremely long, this is not the case with natural cosmetics. Natural cosmetics can usually only be kept for approx. 6 months after opening. You can best judge for yourself whether this is a limitation for you. You will probably have used up your skin care in about 3-6 months.

You can also see it as a plus: Only buy what your skin really needs right now. Only open products when they are supposed to be used. So you throw away a lot less and it's much more sustainable for our environment.

One more tip: Always look carefully at natural products without parabens to see how they are preserved. Because 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 and Co are simply not necessary. They don't necessarily harm your skin, but they pollute the environment. If you can avoid them, then leave them out so that we can all enjoy our planet for a long time.

You can eliminate these products from your care routine

Basic skin care products

Make sure your skincare has a pH between 5 and 6. This way you can soothe your skin in the long run and there is less redness and inflammation.

After all why is pH 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 when your skin comes into contact with water, your pH value can shift after washing. With water it's not that bad. There is harder and softer water: this also has an effect on the skin, but basically the skin manages to push itself back into the slightly acidic spectrum. The situation is 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 protective acid mantle and your skin becomes more susceptible to viruses and bacteria that can cause inflammation. When your skincare has a naturally acidic pH, you're playing it safe and inflammation can be largely avoided. So in the future look for skincare that has a pH between 5-6, as natural skin averages around 5.5.

eye cream

An extra eye cream is not problematic for your skin, but usually unnecessary. Better save the money. If you use a mild, unscented cream, you can also use it under your eyes. If you still have very dry areas under your eyes, you can use a richer face cream. The cream should not contain any vegetable oils, as these can creep into the eyes and irritate them. Instead, squalane or MCT oil are suitable.

As you can see, there are many ingredients and products that you can eliminate from your skincare 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, then it is easier to keep track and you do not overwhelm 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 hydrolates naturally contain fragrances and drying alcohol
  • Avoid harsh surfactants in your cleaning
  • You should choose vegetable oils according to your skin type. If you have very oily skin, skip oils
  • PEGs are suspected of making the skin more permeable.
  • Parabens are suspected to have hormonal effects
  • Alkaline products destroy the protective layer of your skin
  • Eye cream is mostly unnecessary
  • With fewer products and ingredients, you have a better overview of your skin care

Now you know what to leave out. In these points, less really is more. And what about active ingredient serums, herbal extracts, peelings and even more potent active ingredients? Surely they are very useful for my skin? Or is there something to leave out?

That's what the second part of this series, which will appear tomorrow, is all about. So don't miss it. You will also learn how to find out more easily what is good for your skin and what is not.
Lara Schimweg

about the author

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

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