The 5:2 skin diet that has nothing to do with food

A new “diet” is making headlines in Europe, but it has nothing to do with food and everything to do with skincare. The 5:2 skin…

The 5:2 skin diet focuses on going makeup-free for 2 days a week. (Shutterstock)

A new “diet” is making headlines in Europe, but it has nothing to do with food and everything to do with skincare. The 5:2 skin diet, nicknamed to mimic the actual 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, is what some people feel offers the key to healthier skin.

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According to 5:2 skin diet advocates, 2 days out of 7-day week, you go makeup-free. These two days can be in a row or can be spaced apart to break up the week, but they have to be two days without anything adulterating the skin. This makeup break is supposed to encourage skin to return to its natural state, and is purported to be better than just washing your face every morning, evening, or both. London-based cosmetic doctor Dr. Tijion Esho told the “Daily Mail”  such habits can reduce fine lines and wrinkles by encouraging natural cell turn over.

But experts in the U.S. aren’t entirely sold on the British fad.

New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah told Yahoo Beauty giving your skin a break is a great idea, but not necessarily for the reasons people are attributing to the 5:2 skin diet. According to Shah, residue from makeup builds up on skin over time because people don’t properly cleanse their faces. Over time, this makeup residue can clog pores and cause inflammation, so yes, it is usually healthier for skin to be makeup-free. As for skin cell turnover, 2 days once a week probably won’t make much of a difference.

“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,” said Shah. “Moist towelettes just don’t cut it,” he added in regards to how people clean their skin. “You need to use makeup remover and a cleanser. Or a Clarisonic.”

Despite the doubts of U.S. professionals and the debatable reasons behind the 5:2 skin diet, recent scientific research suggests there may be a different reason why going makeup-free is so healthy for skin.

At the end of 2014, experts from the biotech company AOBiome introduced a novel idea in the area of skincare. They developed a topical facial product made from beneficial ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). These bacteria live naturally on the human body and are part of the human microbiome, the millions of microscopic organisms that are on us at all times. The researchers introduced the theory that by washing the skin everyday and applying harsh products, people strip away the beneficial AOB that would otherwise naturally prevent skin inflammation issues like acne.

Should you wash your face daily?

Experts say most people don’t know how to properly cleanse their faces. (Shutterstock)

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In their following research on the product, experts determined AOB acted to combat the process of inflammation by removing excess ammonia, thus relaxing blood vessels , speeding wound healing and balancing the microbiome on the skin’s surface.

In other words, by washing our faces regularly, we were actually doing more harm than good.

Does this prove there may be some validity to the 5:2 skin diet? That remains to be scene. The big question is just how beneficial just two days without makeup could be. Is that enough time for the skin microbiome to repopulate? At this time no one has that answer. The human microbiome is a relatively new area of research, and experts are just starting to understand its importance in overall human health.

What we do know is that being makeup-free is healthier for skin in the long-run, and if you’re going to continue to wear makeup daily, the American Academy of Dermatology outlines the following rules for proper cleansing afterward:

  1. Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol.
  2. Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge, or anything other than your fingertips can irritate your skin.
  3. Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing irritates the skin.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.
  5. Apply moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy. Be gentle when applying any cream around your eyes so you do not pull too hard on this delicate skin.
  6. Limit washing to twice a day and after sweating. Wash your face once in the morning and once at night, as well as after sweating heavily. Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, irritates the skin. Wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.
  7. Experts also recommend massaging the cleanser into the skin for 30 seconds, much longer than most people take. The use of hot water is also discouraged, as it strips skin of moisture and can cause over-drying, inflammation and irritation.