You’ve probably heard the hype about the Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream by now. It’s that $265 moisturizer that prompted Victoria Beckham to proclaim her love via Instagram Stories with no less than three (3) exclamation points: “I absolutely love this brand!!!” The product the New York Times dubbed “high tech holistic skincare.” Makeup artist Patti Dubroff, known for her work with Priyanka Chopra and Tessa Thompson, told Violet Grey her skin “literally craves” it. Oh, and apparently, it's “the secret to rich-person skin,” as reported by the Cut.
I could list the celebrity endorsements for days, but I won’t. Let’s just leave it at this: The Rich Cream is, by all accounts, amazing. But I have a theory about why it’s so amazing… and it has nothing to do with the actual cream. It could be argued that the real magic lies in the directions.
While using The Rich Cream, Augustinus Bader instructs users to forgo all other skincare products, save for cleanser. That means no toners, no essences, no serums or night creams or sleeping masks. And according to the Cut’s review, “the cream asks that you remain devoted to it for 27 days” for best results, a point that Augustinus Bader (a German university professor and regenerative science expert turned skincare entrepreneur) confirms in an email to The Zoe Report.
As somewhat of a skincare minimalist, this makes sense to me — often, skincare routines are overcrowded with products and ingredients that irritate the skin, which then causes you to pile on more products and ingredients to fix said irritation. (For example, surfactant cleansers strip the skin’s natural oils, leading you to layer on thick serums and moisturizers to compensate, triggering clogged pores and acne, precipitating the need for benzoyl peroxide spot treatments that further strip the skin, and so on.) Theoretically, simplifying your routine to a single, multitasking product — whether The Rich Cream or something else — would likely result in clearer, calmer skin over time. Over 27 days, to be precise.
“Your skin replenishes itself every 27 days,” Bader explains to TZR. (A 28 day skin cycle is considered to be the norm in dermatology, although this can vary from person to person.) “Dead skin cells are sloughed off and new cells come to the surface — it’s an ideal period of time to determine the efficacy of a product or regimen,” he says. It’s also the ideal period of time to allow your skin to regulate and resume its natural functions.
“Over a 27-day ‘fast’ [like this], the skin would somewhat revert back its old self,” Dr. Aanand Geria, a dermatologist with Geria Dermatology, tells The Zoe Report. What is your skin’s “old self,” exactly? To generalize, it’s the version of your skin that knows how to thrive sans products. The skin already has built-in functions to self-protect (the skin barrier and microbiome), self-moisturize (sebum), self-exfoliate (a process known as desquamation), and self-heal. Most skincare products essentially “overwrite” these functions, though, and skin then becomes dependent on them to get the job done. But in eliminating extra steps for nearly a month, you give your skin a chance to get back into its natural flow.
As Bader says (and Dr. Geria confirms), over 27 days, the skin will shed dead skin cells and create new ones — so with self-exfoliation in action, it makes sense that the brand suggests retiring your go-to acid exfoliator. Your skin really doesn’t need it anymore. It all but says this in the marketing materials for The Rich Cream: “Augustinus Bader’s groundbreaking skincare works with the body’s own repair processes to help reawaken its innate potential.”
My theory? This “reawakening” is less about the specific ingredients in The Rich Cream and more about the process of simplifying your skincare routine for an entire skin cycle. And though totally untested, this line of thinking seems to check out with dermatologists.
“I think simplicity is vital when it comes to skincare,” Dr. Geria tells TZR. “All too often, people are using numerous products, some of which can irritate the skin, while others interact with each other [to cause skin reactions].” He agrees that a 27-day “cleanse,” so to speak, could be beneficial. “It also depends on which products are not being used during this ‘fast,’” he adds. “Taking a month off of moisturizing might help unclog your pores — but you also might experience dryness during this time.”
It’s also important to note that paring down your product lineup could result in some skin purging in the beginning. “It can get ugly at first, as the skin goes through the process of losing its dependency on the products that it was relying on for a lot of its functioning,” Angela Peck, a holistic aesthetician known for her simple, plant-based approach, tells The Zoe Report. “But doing a ‘fast’ is going to force our skin to function on its own again, which is what it should be doing in the first place.”
Bader notes that the company hasn’t had any reports of skin purging, even when it comes to discontinuing the use of retinol (a scary thought for those devoted to the ingredient’s skin-smoothing and anti-aging benefits). “I had a client who was using a high dose vitamin A [retinol] for rosacea, and her skin was fine when she switched to the Augustinus Bader Rich Cream,” the professor says. “In the event someone wants to continue using a retinol, we advise them to wash it off completely before applying the Augustinus Bader product and not to combine the products.” The reason being, “it is best if The Rich Cream has direct access to the skin” — although he tells TZR it’s totally fine (and encouraged) to layer sunscreen over the cream.
If you want to test this theory for yourself by limiting your skincare routine to just a few products for a full skin cycle, Peck suggests a non-stripping cleanser, a face mist, and some sort of moisturizer (serum, oil, or cream) to support your skin’s natural functions, not suppress them. “I’m not about elaborate skincare routines,” she says. “I have my clients cleanse at night, and then apply the Laurel Elixir followed by the appropriate oil or balm.” Peck also recommends incorporating facial massage to give skin a product-free boost. “I don’t think anything else is necessary,” she says. “I used to do the serum layering back when I worked with conventional esthetics, with some of the most highly regarded conventional skincare brands, and have seen far better results with this approach.”
That being said, Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream does take the guesswork out of a month-long experiment in skincare minimalism. By design, it has everything you need to effectively replace your current skincare products; including the brand’s proprietary “Trigger Factor Complex,” a result of Bader’s 30 years of research in regenerative skincare. “It also features avocado oil, which is rich in fatty acids, and vitamin E, making it a great moisturizer,” Dr. Geria says. The moral of the story: You might not have to drop $265 on The Rich Cream to reap its purported benefits… but it couldn’t hurt.
As for what to do when your 27 days are up? Keep going. The idea is that once your skin has acclimated — or "reawakened to its innate potential," to quote Bader — you won't feel the need to revert back to an over-the-top routine ever again.