I’ve had acne since I was a kid. It started with blackheads, it continued with terrible cystic acne as a teenager (Thank you for your help during those key years of 2000-2003, Differin) and really hasn’t ever completely let up. Until this past summer when I got suuuuuuper lazy and basically stopped washing my face.
I’ve tried all sorts of things to cure my acne, from Retin-A to Mario Badescu drying treatment. I’m 27 and I’d pretty much just given up, deciding that ok, fine, persistent acne is just part of me because it’s encoded in the genes my oily-skinned Italian ancestors handed on down the line. I have large pores, they get clogged, that’s the deal. You can’t change your genetics, right?
WRONG. Well, sort of wrong. This summer, I decided to try the oil cleansing method as laid out by one of my fave crunchy beauty bloggers, Crunchy Betty. The idea behind it is that you wash your face with oil, essentially using oil to cancel out the oil and dirt on your face. It worked pretty well for me and I liked it, but then after a few weeks, I got really lazy with it (all that waiting with the hot washcloth on my face seemed to take up a lot of time I could be spending laying in bed with my iPad and pinning crafts I’ll never do), so I just kinda…stopped. I stopped doing the oil cleansing method at night, I stopped washing my face at night, and I stopped washing it in the morning.
And then I had no pimples anymore! Well, basically no pimples. My blackheads are apparently here to stay forever and ever! But poppable pimples? Whiteheads and the like? They’ve taken a leave of absence. I can only think it’s due to the fact that I’m not really washing my face anymore, as that’s really the only thing that’s changed about my skin care routine. I still use moisturizer, rose water, and remove those clinging-to-life-like-Kris-Kardashian-clings-to-fame blackheads with my trusty comedo-extractor. I thought that not washing my face would make me feel all dirty and medieval, like someone from Monty Python And The Holy Grail or something, but overall, it’s pretty cool.
I’m not the only person who has found that not washing their face seems to be a good thing for their skin. Some people have dubbed this the “Caveman regimen” and it’s gaining popularity among natural beauty devotees, including Fashionista.com’s Nora Crotty. Apparently, even Salma Hayek is a fan of limited face-washing. So, if you think I’m crazy, just know that I am not totally alone in letting the day’s gunk happily accumulate on my face.
I should mention that I do actually wash my face with African black soap in the shower a few times a week, especially when I’m getting close to having my period. I’ll also exfoliate with a washcloth or a Salux cloth weekly and use a face mask a few times a month. But forgoing the whole cleanse in the morning, cleanse at night thing seems to have really made a huge difference in my acne. I couldn’t be more surprised; After about 15 years of washing and washing, applying creams and gels and visiting the dermatologist, all I had to do was just back the hell off? Wow.
Now, if you wear makeup, this super lazy approach to skin care might not actually be the best choice for you. You do need to remove makeup, after all. I’ve never worn a lot of makeup, and since I’ve been working from home for the majority of the past two years, I don’t really ever wear it now, unless I’m going out at night. (Even then, my look is pretty low maintenance: mascara, a bit of concealer, a fancy bright lip). Of course, if and when I do wear makeup, I will wash my face or use a makeup remover, then splash my face with water. Still, if you’re a lady with a very low-key makeup routine, leaving your face the eff alone might just work for you!
I don’t know that my face will continue to thrive in its mostly-dirty state. In a few months, I might need to change up my routine, and it may be that cleansers and acne products might make a reappearance into my life and medicine cabinet. But for now, I’m really enjoying this low maintenance, hippie-esque approach to keeping my face clean (or really, not so clean).
Have you tried not washing your face? Did you feel dirty or did you discover clear, glowy skin like I did?