Should we really be quitting skincare? Here's what to know about the 'sober skin' movement.

Oooh, controversial.

In case you missed it, people are apparently quitting their skincare routines for healthier skin - and we need to talk about it, immediately.

Because it pretty much goes against everything we've ever said on Mamamia and the You Beauty podcast, and look - it makes us a little (a lot) uncomfortable, soooo... let's break it down.

*Holds skincare products close to chest*.

Watch: Here are 7 ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

FYI: this isn't just another random TikTok trend. The concept actually comes from Dr Erin Tjam, also known as the 'Beauty Obsessed Scientist'. 

She's a professor, health educator and co-author of a book called Skin Sobering, which tells us that 99 per cent of skincare products actually age and harm your skin.

What a... terrifying thought.

In her book, Tjam and physician and skin specialist Dr Ryuichi Utsugi, examine our reliance on skincare products, looking at the impact of marketing in the beauty industry.


Because while we've all had it drilled into us that happy, healthy skin requires a consistent skincare routine, these experts say skincare products are actually doing the exact opposite.

Dr Tjam and Dr Utsugi write, "Skin sensitivities, dryness, and diseases have reached epidemic proportions in children and older adults, in addition to rampant beauty problems." 

"We wrote Skin Sobering to teach people to care for their skin without products, a simple approach that really works, despite the beauty industry trying to silence us."

Wanna find out more? Here's everything you need to know about 'skin sobering'.

What is 'skin sobering'?

In short, the whole premise of 'skin sobering' is about paring your skincare routine riiiight back. Like, literally just using lukewarm water to wash your face. 

Yep, a zero-step skincare routine. Zero cleansers. Zero serums. Zero creams.

Why? Well, according to Dr Tjam and Dr Utsug, our skin anatomically cannot absorb anything without damaging it - making products not only useless but harmful to our skin.

In an interview with Author Hour, Dr Tjam explains it like this. "Our skin is an excretory organ. It’s an organ that’s meant to pass waste, to push on waste through sweating. So its main function is to get rid of waste." 

"At the same time, our skin is a protective organ. It has another major important work, which is preventing things from getting through. It is an impermeable barrier."


"When you know the very basic anatomy and physiology of the skin, then ask yourself - can an excretory organ, which is similar to our anus and our urethra, absorb or eat something? It is not a digestive organ, this particular organ is not designed to eat anything or to absorb anything."

When you penetrate it with skincare products, Dr Tjam said you are essentially breaking down your barrier in order to get through it.


Dr Tjam goes on to say that the long-term effects of skincare include exacerbating the problems that you intended to correct - for example, dry skin gets drier, oily skin gets oilier, pigmentation gets duller, etc. A real catch-22.

Which seems 10/10 unfair.

If your skin is feeling dry and itchy, oily or red, she said this isn't normal and you need to reduce the use of products slowly. 

"Begin with reduction, understand your skin doesn’t need it. Understand your skin needs water to clean and air and just [a] good healthy lifestyle," she shares.

"When you see these signs, stop the chemical use. First, begin to wash your face with just water. You will surprisingly find out how after a few days your skin is no longer feeling dry."

"Your face is clean, and when you stop the initial stage of setting your skin into a state of dryness, and dehydration, you will not need the products to make it moist and make it hydrated. That stops the pathway to its long road of destruction."


So, should I ditch skincare?

W-wo-woah! Hold up. Before everyone starts yelling and throwing their skincare products in the bin, it's worth noting that it all comes down to your individual skin and preferences - everyone is different. 

If you're suffering from a slew of different skin concerns - like redness, irritation and inflammation - yeah, maybe it's time to reassess your routine and pull back on a few things. Maybe even see an expert.

Because when it comes to skincare, especially acids, using too much IS a real thing - Dr Tjam is right. You can really screw up your skin by diving headfirst into a whole heap of spicy chemicals willy-nilly.

But! If you've found a tight group of products that make you feel confident and happy in your skin - that's great! Use the skincare. Do the masks. Slap on the serums.

Because while there are a lot of big claims and slippery marketing in the skincare world, it isn't all just a bunch of lies, crazy prices and jazzy bottles. There's much more to it than that.

Skincare makes people feel good. Confident. Happy. Also, it's a form of self-care and actually very fun. 

Bottom line: it's down to you to decide how you approach skincare - or not.

Either way, just remember the SPF, please.

What do you think about 'skin sobering'? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty

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