Skin Streaming for Acne: A New and Affordable Skincare Trend

If you have explored the skincare side of social media you have likely seen videos of skincare routines with a surprising amount of steps and products.

While many of these routines are fun to watch, most of us don’t have the time, budget, or skin type to replicate them.

When you have acne-prone skin, it can be difficult to stop hunting for more products or skincare routine steps that we hope will finally solve our breakouts. But sometimes the right thing to do for acne is to cut products out instead of adding more. It’s the perfect time to embrace a new simple and affordable skincare trend called skin streaming.

What is Skin Streaming?

The term “skin streaming” refers to streamlining your skincare routine for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. It’s all about using fewer products that can still fulfill multiple skincare needs, so you can simplify your skincare regimen while still maintaining or improving your skin​​.

The trend emphasizes reducing your skincare routine to generally just three or four essential steps by cutting down on the number of products and active ingredients. In skin streaming, the focus is on curating a few products that work well for your skin and focusing on those. Especially for acne-prone skin, adding too many products can irritate or clog your pores. 

Ideally products fulfill multiple needs at once and will be highly curated to your skin needs. For example, a tinted moisturizing sunscreen can help hydrate your skin with humectants and occlusives, protect it from the sun with UV filters, and use a tint to both help with hyperpigmentation from visible light and provide a natural level of makeup coverage. Similarly, a prescription or over-the-counter retinoid product will increase cell turnover to help with acne, preventing signs of aging, and reducing hyperpigmentation

If you are someone who enjoys many steps to your skincare routine and your skin tolerates it well, this trend is probably not for you. But if your skin seems irritated or unhappy with a lot of products or you are tired of keeping up with a lengthy and complex routine, skin streaming may be the perfect new trend to embrace.

Skin Streaming vs Skin Flooding

On the other side of the skincare spectrum is skin flooding, a technique focused on maximizing hydration. This method is based on ‘flooding’ the skin with layers of hydration while it is still wet. The aim is to infuse as much hydration as possible into the skin, starting with wet skin and then layering on moisturizing products like toners, serums, creams, balms, and ointments.

Applying a skin streaming or skin flooding philosophy to your skincare is a very personal decision, as it depends largely on your skin type, skincare budget, and available time. If you have very dry skin and struggle to find a single product that provides enough moisture, skin flooding with various products might be what you need to keep your skin barrier healthy. On the other hand, if your skin reacts negatively to many products, you may find that skin streaming helps to keep your skin clear. It’s not an all-or-nothing decision. For example, you might default to skin streaming most of the year but add more moisturizing products during drier seasons.


Have you heard about the new viral skincare trends #skinstreaming vs #skinflooding ? I shared some of my thoughts on the matter with @Vogue here. Do you prefer a minimalist skincare routine or are you a multiple products fan? 🤔

♬ original sound – drkarenk

Is Skin Streaming Good for Acne?

Skin streaming for acne is about adopting a streamlined and efficient skincare routine aimed specifically at managing and preventing acne. The focus is on reducing the number of extra products so that you can focus on ingredients effective in targeting acne-related issues, such as excess oil, inflammation, and bacteria, without overwhelming the skin with too many products or steps. 

Here’s how you can approach skin streaming for acne:

Start with a Gentle Cleanser

Choose a gentle cleanser that can effectively remove dirt, oil, makeup, and impurities without being drying or irritating. If you have mild acne and are skipping a separate treatment step, you can use a cleanser with active ingredients like salicylic acid to penetrate oil in pores or benzoyl peroxide to tackle bacteria.

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

$18.38 ($0.97 / Fl Oz)
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05/08/2024 05:27 pm GMT

Moisturize with a Lightweight Formula

Acne-prone skin may be oily but it still needs hydration. Choose a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer to hydrate and repair the skin barrier without adding extra oil or clogging pores.

Incorporate an Acne-Fighting Treatment

Look for treatments that contain proven acne-fighting ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or a topical retinoid. These can help to reduce inflammation, prevent clogged pores, and accelerate skin cell turnover. The key is to select one potent treatment rather than using multiple products with similar functions which can cause irritation and make it difficult to know what is working. For a gentle spot treatment try hydrocolloid pimple patches.

Differin Acne Treatment Gel with 0.1% Adapalene

$25.99 ($16.24 / Fl Oz)
Buy on Amazon
05/14/2024 09:40 pm GMT

Apply Non-Comedogenic Sunscreen

Protecting your skin from the sun is vital, even when treating acne. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is non-comedogenic. Using a sunscreen with a tint can help offset any white cast and provide a natural level of coverage over breakouts.

Be Selective with Additional Products

If you feel the need to add more products, such as toners or spot treatments, be very selective and ensure they serve a specific purpose in your acne treatment routine. Avoid overlapping ingredients or overly irritating the skin.

Consistency and Patience

Acne doesn’t clear overnight, and it’s important to give any new routine or product several weeks at minimum to show results. Consistency is key in skin streaming, as it is with any skincare routine.

Consult with a Dermatologist

Before starting any new skincare routine for acne, especially if you have moderate to severe acne, consult with a dermatologist. They can help you select the right products and ensure that your streamlined routine is effective and safe for your skin type and condition.

Benefits of Skin Streaming

Streamlining your skin care routine to be efficient with a few products curated for what you want to address can have many benefits, including: 


Skin streaming can be an environmental and sustainable choice by cutting down on excessive product use. By minimizing the number of products in your routine, you can reduce the waste of buying new products that don’t work for you and that will expire or be discarded, making it a more sustainable approach to skincare​​. 


Skin streaming can also be financially sustainable. The cost of skincare products can be very high, and completing a 10 step (or more) routine twice a day can cost hundreds of dollars. By streamlining your skin care routine you can save your money or use the difference towards effective and professional acne treatments from a dermatologist.


Acne-prone skin can also be sensitive and reactive to new ingredients. Applying too many products with active ingredients can irritate your skin and damage your skin barrier, which might lead to more breakouts. But by skin streaming and sticking to a smaller number of favorites, you minimize the risk of irritation. And if your skin does show signs of a negative reaction, it is much easier to find the culprit among a smaller selection of products.


One common factor in acne treatments is that they need several weeks at minimum to show results. By focusing on one active treatment at a time and giving it the time to have an effect, you are more likely to find what will actually work for your specific breakouts. 


If you often travel or spend nights away from your home, it can be tedious to remember to bring multiple bottles of skincare products or decant them into smaller containers. Having a pared down skincare routine can make it easy to grab your whole routine and fit it all in your bag to keep your skincare consistent when you travel.


Not only do some more elaborate skin care routines have a lot of steps that must be done twice a day, they often require waiting for certain products to dry fully or a set amount of time between certain active ingredients. Minimizing your routine to the most essential products can save a lot of extra time that you could spend sleeping or on a different activity you enjoy.

Mental Energy

Beyond the initial research that goes into selecting new products to address your skin concerns, remembering to repurchase and apply so many products can be mentally draining. Streamlining your skin care routine to a few products can reduce the mental load of caring for acne-prone skin.

Skin Streaming for Acne Routine

A typical skin streaming routine for acne might include just a cleanser, moisturizer, treatment, and sunscreen. If your acne is mild the treatment might just be your choice of a medicated cleanser instead of a separate step. If your acne is more severe your treatment should be a prescription from your dermatologist. If you are on Accutane, you must follow the skin care routine given to you by your doctor.

Here’s an example skin streaming routine you can use for acne:

SKIN1004 Hyalu-CICA Water-fit Sun Serum SPF 50

$18.50 ($10.95 / Fl Oz)
Buy on Amazon
03/21/2024 05:58 pm GMT

Differin Acne Treatment Gel with 0.1% Adapalene

$25.99 ($16.24 / Fl Oz)
Buy on Amazon
05/14/2024 09:40 pm GMT

While it may be a trend, skin streaming is part of a larger movement away from the endless pursuit of perfection towards authenticity and sustainability in beauty and personal care. It can be seen as a less-is-more response to overly complicated skincare routines by promoting a more sustainable, economical, and time-efficient approach to skincare that doesn’t compromise on results. 

Skin streaming for acne is all about a simplified skincare routine that rejects the belief that more products equate to better skin​​. There’s no magic number of products to stick to while skin streaming, and your skin needs may change throughout the year. But by focusing on a few key steps and products, you can maintain a minimal skincare routine that can still benefit your skin maximally. 

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