Would you go makeup free for two days every week? (Photo: Henry Leutwyler)
There’s a new gimmicky diet in town—and it has nothing to do with food. The 5:2 skin diet, which gets its name from 2014’s most popular weight loss diet, has been making tsunami waves in the UK with its 5:2 approach to wearing makeup. For two consecutive or non-consecutive days a week, you go makeup-free. #youwokeuplikethis and you stay like this for two days. As with most cleanses and detoxes, it sounds gratifying because you’re purposely forcing yourself into a “pure” state. But is going cold turkey sans makeup actually better than just thoroughly cleansing your face every morning and evening? London-based cosmetic doctor Dr. Tijion Esho told the Daily Mail that following these procedures can help promote skin cell turnover for a youthful glow and fine line reduction, but I spoke to the doctors and experts stateside to find out if the British beauty trend should bother making its way over the Atlantic.
Dr. Sejal Shah, New York City-based dermatologist, tells Yahoo Beauty that while she agrees with the principle of letting your skin take a break, she doesn’t agree for the reasons cited in the Daily Mail. She says that most people don’t wash their faces properly and are not very good at removing their makeup. Over time, the pigments of the unwashed makeup will keep building up on the skin, clogging pores and causing inflammations. She also disagrees with Dr. Esho on the 5:2 diet’s effectiveness in promoting skin cell turnover: “It takes your skin weeks to full turnover. It doesn’t happen in two days, and going two days will not help turnover in any significant way.” In July 2013, the Daily Mail commissioned a British woman to go a month without washing the makeup off her face—“It’s a horrifying stunt piece, but it just shows that your skin would improve if you’d just wash your face and wear makeup in moderation,” commented Dr. Shah.
Instead of following the 5:2 diet which may not work for everyone, Dr. Shah advises simply to ensure that your skin is completely cleansed day and night with a two-step cleaning routine. “Moist towelettes just don’t cut it. You need to use makeup remover and a cleanser. Or a Clarisonic,” says Dr. Shah. However, going makeup-free doesn’t mean you have to—or should—go product-free. Dr. Shah recommends wearing moisturizer and SPF no matter what—sun damage is the number one skin ager, after all.
However the skin craze has some avid devotees. Indie Lee, an eco-beauty entrepreneur and natural skin care fan, admits to loving the 5:2 skin diet and hoping it spreads to other parts of the world. “This whole craze is great because it’s bringing awareness to skin health. It’s already started in America—people are doing the no-makeup selfie or the 28 days without makeup challenge.” She personally loves going makeup free, but she admits that it might not be for everyone’s lifestyle: “If you’re going to stress about not wearing makeup in public, that stress is going to make your skin look worse.”
If you do decide to test out the 5:2 skin diet, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Karen Hammerman offers a few suggestions for making your skin look best without makeup: Use a toner to tighten your pores. Apply undereye serum to reduce puffiness. Put coconut oil on your lips and eyebrows. And if you need coverage on your “makeup-free” days, you can cheat with bb cream—it’s basically just a moisturizer, after all.
Like all diet gimmicks, there’s an underlying good lesson behind it—you should clean your skin and take care of it—but if you’re not up for giving up your favorite blushes and foundation, your skin will be just as healthy with proper cleaning, safe makeup, and sunscreen.