Skin fasting: How to give your skin the night off

You’ve all heard of fasting for your health or for weight loss but what about fasting for your skin? People do fasts to help their bodies expel toxins and rest their digestive system. What if you could do something similar for your skin?

I first came across skin fasting when I did some research on Japanese beauty secrets. The idea behind skin fasting is that like your digestive system, your skin sometimes needs a stress free environment to cleanse and balance itself.

What is skin fasting?

Very simply, one night a week, or every other week, you go to bed without any product on your skin. SHOCK! HORROR! Yes, I know, we’ve all been trained to slap on that night cream like our lives depend on it.

But, but…but…WHY? Is it OK? MY WRINKLES! But every skincare company EVER says I should use my night cream ” NIGHTLY”…it says so on the jar!

But what if you didn’t? What if you took a night off?

What are the benefits of skin fasting?

Restores the natural PH balance of your skin: Our skin has a slightly acidic layer called the acid mantle. It protects against environmental pollution, bacteria, dehydration and infection amongst other things. Stripping the skin with harsh cleansers and adding layers of skincare products with various PH levels can disrupt the skin’s natural acidity of around 5.5. Skin fasting allows your skin to produce sebum that naturally maintains and protects the skin’s acid mantle.


Balances sebum and moisture levels: If you strip all the natural oils from your skin it will simply produce more and more to balance moisture levels and protect it from dehydration. Applying layers and layers of skincare will interfere with the skin’s natural ability to regulate sebum production.

To expel toxins and dirt: Without an extra layer of chemical-laden skincare products, your skin can naturally expel any dirt or toxins. Creating a barrier that artificially blocks that function can cause spots and blocked pores. Let the skin “breathe”.

Resets the skin’s natural maintenance and renewal system: Your body rests and repairs while you sleep. Yes, I know I say this in just about every other post but it’s important! Your skin is a very large organ that needs to rest and repair as well. Have you ever gone to bed with a raging spot and woken up with it looking less red and annoyed? That is because your skin has been working all night to reduce inflammation, repair damaged cells and kill the infection. By not adding any additional irritants or oils to your skin, you allow it to balance moisture levels, get rid of dirt or bacteria and regulate itself.

How to do it

Pick a good time: It’s best to do a skin fast on a Friday or Saturday night when you don’t have any plans for the next day. You may develop a blemish or two during the process. You also don’t really want to apply makeup to your freshly balanced skin and it’s nice to keep the process going by not overloading on skincare products.

Make sure that your pillowcases are clean: Your skin will be bare and vulnerable so, use a clean pillowcase to prevent infection or irritation from old sebum, bacteria, hair care or skin care products that have rubbed off on your bedding.


Make sure that your room is cool and not too dry: Central heating can really dry out the air and with it, your skin. Use a humidifier to add some moisture back or open a window to let some fresh air in. You also don’t want to sweat excessively so make sure that your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature.

Drink enough water: You don’t want to drink litres and litres of water just before bed. You’ll be up all night. Try to spread it out through the afternoon and into the evening. This will help your body to hydrate tissues and expel waste. Have a cup of water just before bed. Avoid coffee and sugary drinks, you want a good night’s sleep.

Cleanse without stripping: If your cleanser leaves your skin tight and almost itchy then it is much too harsh for this process. Use oil cleansers to remove any makeup. Follow up with a gentle foaming cleanser to get rid of any remaining dirt, oil or makeup. If your skin feels very tight, use micellar water but ideally, you want to use a cleanser that does not strip the skin. Make sure that your towels are clean.


Gently massage: Wash your hands and give your skin a very gentle tapping massage to improve circulation and drain away any excess fluid.

Have a cup of water and put yourself to bed for a good night’s rest. It may feel strange to go to bed without doing your skincare ritual. I add a tiny bit of coconut oil to my lips because they are always dry but purists won’t even do that because your lips will also regulate their own oils if you let them. It just drives me nuts to have dry lips though.

The next day


When you wake up in the morning you may be surprised by how good your skin looks. I expected lines and wrinkles and misery but my skin felt soft and there were no more fine lines than usual. I didn’t have oily patches and definitely no dry ones.

So, what to do next:

Wash your face: Your skin expelled impurities and repaired its acid mantle during the night. Don’t go strip it all away with a harsh cleanser. Just rinse your face with warm water. You don’t have to use a cleanser but if you do, make sure it’s very gentle.

Moisturise sparingly: Use an eye cream and light moisturiser or serum but don’t layer oily product on. You’ve just given your skin a break, ease back into your 20 step skincare ritual over the next day or so.


Treat spots individually: Please don’t apply oil control products or harsh acne treatments all over your skin. Use a drop of tea tree oil on a spot and leave it to heal without a lot of pore clogging product.

Keep hydrating: Drink water throughout the day and try to feed your skin with veggies and fish for an extra boost from within.

When NOT to do skin fasting

inspection_red. dry
There are some instances when it is not a good idea to try skin fasting.

  1. If you have recently had a skin resurfacing treatment – Your therapist will have some very specific instructions on how you need to take care of vulnerable, resurfaced skin. Do not deviate from that process.
  2. If you have an existing skin condition and you use specialised products or medication – always speak to your doctor or dermatologist.
  3. If you are ill – When you are ill your body has other priorities and its not the best time for you to change your routine. Wait until you are feeling better and use it as part of a pamper session to help your body recover after illness.

So, what do we think? Do you see yourself skipping the elixirs, serums, essences and creams for one night?

Happy fasting!



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