You may have heard of the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally five days a week and then restrict calories/fast for two. Well apparently, some women are now adopting a similar strategy when it comes to their skin: going without makeup a couple days a week. According to an article about the U.K.-centered trend in the Daily Mail, some experts believe that taking days off from makeup promotes skin-cell turnover and regeneration, resulting in glowier, younger-looking skin. It also supposedly helps the skin “detox” from potentially irritating/drying chemicals and buildup that can lead to breakouts.

When I read about this makeup-detox diet, at first I felt smug. Finally, a trendy “diet” that’s compatible with my personality and lifestyle! I already spend at least three days a week bare-skinned. (Fine, only because I’m somewhat lazy and come from Maine, where it’s not only socially acceptable but the norm to be seen bare-faced while out and about. But I have always felt that doing this helps keep my skin balanced and clear.) Then I felt skeptical. Is there any real science behind the concept that two makeup-free days a week can dramatically offset all our pore-cloggy cosmetic habits? I decided to poll some trusted U.S. skin care experts and ask them: Should we try the 5:2 skin diet? Here are some of the points they made both for and against.

It’s smarter to adjust your routine so all seven days are skin-friendlier.

“This concept is just like when you go on a diet: If you eat healthy for two days and then go back to eating junk, you will not see a difference,” notes dermatologist Frederic Brandt. “I think that the overall concept of seeing how your skin looks without makeup for a few days is good, but then you should modify your makeup routine and the products you typically use if you see a problem in the days you are ‘detoxing’; by changing what you use on a daily basis. The smarter thing to do is to make sure you remove makeup thoroughly at night, cleanse thoroughly, clean out pores [Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner] or use a scrub and repair creams at night. Then in the morning, cleanse before applying makeup, don’t over-apply makeup, and use light formulas that are more suited to your skin type. To change your makeup habits in positive way makes more sense. I suggest that my patients use products that won’t irritate their skin and cause breakouts. It is more about maintaining your skin on daily basis—a daily detox, so to speak.”

Keeping skin clean overnight already gives you a daily makeup “detox”.

“Just because makeup can last 24 hours doesn’t mean you should wear it for that long,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. “Makeup can definitely clog the pores, leading to acne breakouts. It also can lead to skin irritation and prevent the skin from ‘breathing’ normally.” That said, he sees how a weekly makeup detox could be beneficial. “Besides using a gentle, effective makeup remover on a regular basis, skipping a day or two of makeup altogether is a good idea,” he notes. “As skin exfoliates naturally, it also purges makeup pigments and any chemicals that may accumulate on the surface of the skin.” Beauty-product breaks can also allow the skin to rebalance its moisture. “Any product, whether it’s makeup, or an occlusive, greasy moisturizer, can interfere with the skin’s ability to regulate hydration. The skin interacts with the environment and maintains moisture as much as it needs to depending on that environment. An occlusive barrier between the skin and the outside prevents the skin from working as well as it normally does and can throw off the skin’s natural moisture balance. ”

Makeup doesn’t have to be so bad for your skin.

“If your makeup is drying or irritating, you should try to avoid it as much as possible or stop using it altogether,” says dermatologist Howard Murad. “Years ago, many makeups were greasy and caused breakouts or irritation. These days, there are plenty of cosmetics that contain ingredients that actually benefit the skin. In short, there is no black-and-white answer. Wearing makeup during the day followed by proper cleansing, treating, and hydrating with products that contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and hydrators will help keep your barrier function working at its best and keep your skin looking clear and healthy. If the makeup you’re wearing makes you look good, feel good, and doesn’t irritate your skin, there’s no reason to do a ‘detox.'”

Other than this debatable “increased cell turnover” claim, benefits of a weekly makeup detox could include …
Some people like the idea of cutting their weekly chemical load by going bare more often. “Going makeup-free for two days a week will enable the body to detox from harsh chemicals, toxins, and pollutants that may be lurking in the makeup products you apply,” asserts Indie Lee, an eco-beauty entrepreneur. “Overall, I think this trending topic is wonderful because it’s starting a larger dialogue about healthy skin. It’s a conversation that we should all take part in whether or not we agree that skin detoxing is a fad or here to stay. Implementing the 5:2 diet can be a great springboard for evaluating the products you’re using on a daily basis and how they affect your skin.”

Regularly going totally bare can help combat certain skin challenges.

“Some of my patients get flareups of their rosacea and perioral dermatitis rashes when they use heavier creams or sleep with their makeup on,” says dermatologist Jessica Wu. “This may possibly be due to demodex mites feeding on the oils in products. I often advise patients who are being treated for these conditions to skip moisturizer and sleep with a bare face at night. Some patients who are on retinoids can get red and scaly if they use it every day—then they pile on moisturizer or try to scrub off the flakes on the alternate days. This ends up in a vicious irritated-skin cycle. So I often advise acne and sun-damage patients who are on retinoids to take a night or two off during the week.”

My takeaway: While going without makeup a couple of days a week does appear to have some benefits, and there’s certainly no harm in trying it, the 5:2 skin diet isn’t some miraculous new strategy for getting gorgeous skin. We’re better off ensuring that the products we apply daily agree with our skin. And I think diligent daily/nightly face washing is to the 5:2 skin diet what eating healthy foods in moderation is to a green-juice cleanse—more often than not, it’s the boring, old-school good habits that pay off way more in the long run.

Thoughts on the 5:2 skin diet concept? Do you “detox” from makeup at all during the week, or do you wear some form of foundation/tint on your skin every single day?