When Thoreau said “simplify,” he wasn’t talking about skincare, but maybe he should have been. After all, how many of us have committed to a complex skincare regimen, only to abandon it a few weeks later when (let’s face it) the prospect of crashing on the couch and watching “Dance Moms” sounds much more appealing than applying endless lotions and potions?“Companies love to make many different products, and it doesn’t take a scientist to know why. It makes for good business,” says Arthur Perry, M.D. F.A.C.S., YouBeauty’s plastic surgery expert. “But when I prescribed complex regimens, I found that my patients—a group of very motivated women—wouldn’t stay on them for longer than a month or so. Most of them would do a one-step program, and when I added a second step, I lost half of them.”MORE: Live Simply, Be More BeautifulDr. Perry set out to create a regimen his patients would stick too, and the result was his own über-tightly edited skincare collection. It includes just four products: CleanThyme bar soap, DayThyme SPF 20 sunscreen, SoftThyme moisturizer and NightThyme serum—all formulated with minimal ingredients and backed up by research (not just vague promises).“So many products can’t possibly do what they claim, and there are many reasons for that,” says Dr. Perry. “Some products contain active ingredients that are too big to penetrate the skin, some contain ingredients that are too low a concentration to be effective, and some contain ingredients that aren’t in biologically active forms. As a practicing plastic surgeon, I know it’s daunting to try and figure out which products actually do something. My goal was to create products that actually worked—that have scientifically proven ingredients, in the correct concentrations.”What Dr. Perry left out of his products was given careful consideration as well. “Many products contain way too many ingredients, increasing the chance of an allergic reaction,” he says. “Others contain toxins, endocrine disruptors and even carcinogens.”MORE: The Facts About Controversial Cosmetic IngredientsParabens, dyes, petrolatum and phthalates are nowhere to be found in Dr. Perry’s products. Neither is artificial fragrance. Instead, Dr. Perry used thyme oil. “Thyme is an antioxidant, and it naturally kills bacteria and fungus. On top of that, it smells great, so it was a great addition to my formulas,” he says.The first product in Dr. Perry’s stripped-down skincare regimen is a bar soap—something you don’t see a lot of these days. But Dr. Perry had a good reason for choosing a bar formula over a liquid cleanser. “Bar soaps don’t require preservatives, and 14 percent of people are allergic to preservatives,” he explains. The soap is also free of sulfates, which can lead to dryness and irritation. In fact, it’s Sodium Lauryl Sufate (SLS) that’s often responsible for that “tight skin” feeling you get after cleansing. Without harsh sulfates, you’re less likely to need a moisturizer (actually, Dr. Perry believes they’re not truly necessary), but he admits that most people just aren’t willing to go without that step.MORE: Natural Beauty Brands to Try“Really, the answer is not to pile on more goo, but rather to avoid the toxins in the first place,” Dr. Perry says. “Having said that, most women will simply not give up their moisturizer. Even my own wife won’t! And so I figured if women were going to use moisturizer, I would create one that simulated the normal oils of the skin.” Dr. Perry’s SoftThyme moisturizer relies on olive, safflower and jojoba oils to mimic skin’s natural hydration, along with ceramides, squalene and phytosphingosine.When it comes to sunscreen, Dr. Perry has decided opinions about what makes for the most effective protection. “Zinc oxide is the single best sunscreen, shielding from both UVA and UVB light,” he says. Plus, unlike chemical sunscreens, zinc oxide isn’t absorbed into the body. “Chemical sunscreens are absorbed right through your skin and stay in your bloodstream for two days. Zinc oxide stays on the surface of the skin and does what it’s supposed to do—blocks ultraviolet light.”MORE: Get Sunscreen-SavvyLast up in Dr. Perry’s regimen: a nighttime serum with vitamins C and A. “Vitamin C is the second most thoroughly studied skincare ingredient, after vitamin A,” he says. But while any form of Vitamin A can work on the skin, your body can only use one form of vitamin C, and that’s L-ascorbic acid. “Other forms may technically be vitamin C, but the problem is that your body can’t use them,” Dr. Perry explains. “For example, a company could put magnesium ascorbyl phosphate in their cream and call that vitamin C. Legally that may be correct, but biologically, it’s wrong. Your body just ignores that chemical.”As far as results, Dr. Perry is quite possibly the only skincare manufacturer to caution not to expect overnight miracles with his products. “The skin is a slow-moving organ,” he says. “Real skincare programs take many months or even years to have noticeable impact. It’s important for women to understand that honest products will not give you dramatic results overnight.”Sounds like honesty is the best—and the most refreshing—policy after all.MORE: How Vitamin C Helps Your Skin