I’ve Stopped Washing My Face (Caveman Regimen)

by Kate on July 15, 2012

in Acne, Frugal Living, Healthy Living, Natural Beauty, Save Money, Simple Living

I wrote a few weeks ago about my plans to wean myself off the twice-a-day applications of benzoyl peroxide I’d been using for years to control my acne. My wedding has officially come and gone (yay! married!) and so I decided I was ready. I figured there would be no better time to begin my new low maintenance skincare regimen than during my honeymoon. I knew I’d be getting plenty of sunshine (which always does great things for my skin unless I get a burn) and that I would be stress-free. I mentioned previously that I was considering switching to a simple regimen using jojoba oil and/or tea tree oil for cleansing, and possibly using manuka honey as a treatment. Of course, packing my oils and honey was the last thing on my mind leading up to the wedding/honeymoon, so I ended up just deciding to go cold-turkey head-first into a caveman/water only regimen.

Haven’t heard of the “caveman” regimen? In a nutshell, you don’t wash your face. How can not washing your face benefit your skin and help acne? For some people, acne may be caused or worsened by all the products we use (yes, even ones meant to treat acne) because they upset the skin’s natural PH balance and strip away your skin’s protective acid mantle. Adult skin naturally fights to maintain a slightly acidic PH (around a PH of 5.5), but most soaps and even the gentlest cleansers tend to be slightly or very alkaline. When you lather up, you basically send your skin into panic mode trying to correct it’s PH. What does your skin do to regulate its PH? Primarily, it produces sebum: that lovely substance that leads to acne if it’s not produced at normal levels. So you can see why messing with your skin’s PH balance every day might cause or worsen your acne. Some argue that even water (which has a PH of about 7) may affect the skin’s PH balance negatively and thus avoid even allowing water to touch their skin. Furthermore, the water from your tap may contain all kinds of other irritants (like flouride) which have also been associated with acne. I’ve been allowing water to touch my skin in the shower, but have avoided intentionally “washing” with water.

The upside?

So far, no bad breakout. I did get some clogged pores on my forehead around day 3-4, but now, at day 7, they’re mostly gone! I also had a pimple that I had felt coming for a while, come to the surface as a tiny little whitehead, but I expected it to be more inflamed, so I was thrilled that it was so minor.

I guess the biggest upside so far is just the freedom–I’m saving a good 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night by not slathering on my creams. (Plus, clearly, this is a huge money saver.)  It’s so simple and stress-free!

Obviously, this is about as healthy/chemical free as you can get and I love that!

I also really just love the way my natural skin feels– I guess the creams I was using were irritating my skin more than I realized. I only notice it now, because my skin feels so comfortable!

The downside?

The anxiety! I’ve been pretty religious about my skincare regimens my whole life and to suddenly be doing nothing leaves me feeling out of control. Over the last week, I’ve had a lot of minor little bumps pop up that resolve almost as quickly as they come, but I keep fearing that they’ll all just suddenly get very inflamed. I’m trying to remind myself that the upside to lack of control is freedom.

Also, since you don’t wash your face, you can’t really wear makeup.This isn’t a problem for me as I’ve never really worn a ton of foundation or anything, but I have had to give up my light dusting of mineral powder. I still use a dot of concealer here and there but I don’t see the harm–it all gets absorbed or melts off by the end of the day anyway. I do still wear eye makeup though!

Supposedly in next week or two, I should experience what’s known as the “dead skin mask” where your skin quickly builds up a bunch of dead flaky skin because you are no longer exfoliating it regularly. From what I understand, this dead skin mask appears around week 2 and takes a couple weeks to go away, but when it does it will reveal new gorgeous baby-smooth skin underneath. Frankly though, I’ve never had dry skin issues in my life so I’ll be shocked if it happens to me. We’ll see!

I’ll keep you updated! Would love to know if anyone else has tried this or has considered trying it? What made you try it, or what’s holding you back?

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

beautywhizz July 15, 2012 at 9:49 am

No water? Anything? Any toner or floral water? I got combination skin and quite oily at T-zone. I think it would be quite difficult for me not to use anything. But, well done to you. Will keep on checking how you are doing.

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lightcleansimple July 15, 2012 at 11:41 am

In the shower it’s hard not to get water on your face but if I do I don’t fret over it. But I don’t intentionally splash my face twice a day or anything. It’s a huge difference from what I used to do (cleanse, treat, moisturize twice a day every day) so I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it. But so far so good! I feels wonderful not thinking about it.

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beautywhizz July 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Wow, so you just leave it without anything. Must be pretty amazing, sounds very challenging to me though. Still love toners, creams and cleansing oil but maybe will give it a go on holidays.

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50shadesofgreen August 10, 2012 at 6:29 am

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I stopped washing my face because acne cleansers can cause birth defects, and because I was just so tired at night that I’d fall asleep before I had time. Miraculously, my face cleared up and has been in great shape ever since. I just rinse with water or a little natural hand soap once a day.

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lightcleansimple September 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm

That’s so awesome! I really want to be doing the caveman regimen when I get pregnant someday but I know my skin tends to breakout with hormone fluctuations…so we’ll see. Hearing stories like yours make me think I might get through it just fine though :)

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Danielle September 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Question: what do you use to remove your eye makeup? I use Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Make-up Remover, but actually it does leave an oily residue which I then rinse off with soap and water. I am totally ready to go caveman on my face…the idea just came into my head today and then after some googling I’ve discovered your blog post and many others who had the same idea.

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lightcleansimple September 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Hey! I use Jojoba oil. It’s an amazing makeup remover and completely natural too.

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andrea March 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

I’m thinking about going cold turkey & stop cleaning my face or using anything topical for my acne also. I don’t have oily skin Im taking antibiotic from my dermatologist . so gracefully of these things will work for me .

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Kate March 9, 2013 at 12:22 am

Cold turkey can be a bit of a crapshoot, but some people do manage to get through it just fine–what are you using currently? Since you are on an antibiotic, that may help ease the transition as well.

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Tony May 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm

when I first started the regimen, I gave myself a preparation facial, a Betonite clay detox mask to pull all leftover toxins from all the products you have used and a aloe/jojoba mask to re-hydrate and moisturize the skin naturally. Now enough of the product, time to start the regimen, it typically will last about one to two months depending on how severe your skin problems are. During this regimen I HIGHLY reccomend juicing organic fruit and veggie juices, water, sunshine and exercise. Obviously cutting out all unnecessary stress causing trials in your daily life and toxic foods like coffee, soda, alcohol, sugary beverages and processed foods. Once the regimen is over, you can start a mild regimen of manuka honey and a drop of jojoba oil as a quick nourishing and cleansing treatment. This is the only thing that worked for me. I would highly suggest products like a superfood supplemental green powder you can find and order at http://www.herbdoc.com

good luck, Tony Redel

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Katy July 30, 2013 at 9:22 am

I definitely thought you were going into “American Psycho” mode and reciting his regimen LOL

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Lee August 1, 2013 at 8:28 am

I have not washed my face except for water running into it from the shower for over 20 years. In my teens i bought into the whole routine of cleanse, tone and moisturise just because I thought that it was what u were suppose to do but by my mid 20′s I was fed up with how time consuming this twice daily routine was and just stopped. I just wiped my face with a damp facecloth morning and night and then eventually dropped this to once a day only when I shower. I still had to moisturise as I get a tight feeling after washing but noticed that water did the same job as my previous routine. For the last 2 weeks I have switched from store bought moisturiser to extra virgin olive oil and my skin tone looks like it has evened out (always had patchy uneven looking skin). For the 1st few days my skin felt a bit dry with the evoo (that could have been caused by me constantly touching it to see if the oil had a made a difference!) but then went back to normal. I am remaining quietly optimistic since it has only been 2 weeks but if it turns out how my non face washing of over 20 years has, I will definitely continue with evoo as my moisturiser. I hope that this post gives hope to all those starting on their washing face with water only journey :)

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Caly August 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Iv been dealing with skin issues for about 10 years from my teens into my twenties. I was a skin nazi spending loads of money on face treatments and products to help my skin clear, as I got older the products got harsher and stronger in my desperation for clear skin. I made huge changes to my diet Gluten, Dairy free and have a number of other allergies. Also only eat fish and some other seafood. My diet consists of lots of veggies, fruit and good fats. None of my diet changes seemed to make any difference in my skin and I started to lose my mind trying to pinpoint what was causing my skin to be so bad. I don’t have the typical acne I have what looks like more of a heat rash, Folliculitis sort of deal very small bumps that cover most of my face and chest and shoulders. I wash my face twice a day and sometimes more or apply a clearing product if experiencing a breakout. In the last 6 months I went more natural and switched to seabuckthorn bar soap and seabuckthorn oil. It didn’t make any difference in my skin but it cut down the oil big time!!! I have seriously oily skin all the time and my face actually started to get dry! so oil does combat oil! However recently I spent two weeks in hospital I didn’t wash or even look at my face for a week and for the next week I wiped with a wet towel usually morn and night. When I got home to my surprise my skin was perfect… I hadn’t seen it that way in years since I was young!!! I went back to showering and washing with my bar soap and oil about a few days later I laid out in the hot sun two days in a row. A day after that my skin broke out and continued braking out. I went back to washing all the time and using peroxide desperate not to lose my perfect skin. Well it got worse… even more desperate, a doctor prescribed Protopic cream which again made it even worse and even sore to touch… I started researching like a mad woman and found posts about people clearing their skin with nothing..just water, no washing. The two clicked and I said its worth a shot. Its day 3 I still let the water run over my face and sometimes wipe lightly with a cloth and I don’t find this effects me because even when the water runs over my face a good layer of oil can still be felt. So far it feels less irritated and I haven’t noticed any more bumps yet. I will report back with what happens. Thank you for all the posts I appreciate the info and experiences as well.

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Victor March 16, 2014 at 5:08 am

I went on this caveman regime (no water)for two months and it worked,after removing the dead skin at the end,my face became super smooth and then I started to bath normally with just water and rub pears baby moisturizer,but the smoothness only lasted for about a month and after that d dead skin started reappearing again and now its so much,was there something I shud have done after getting the smooth skin when I was through with the regimen that wud have maintained d new skin that came out then? And please what do I do now cos am planning to go on it again and this time i wouldn’t want to get it wrong….pls help!

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Kate May 15, 2014 at 9:16 am

Victor, you might consider starting a regimen using jojoba oil. I’ve seen a lot of people have a similar experience to yours and sometimes just a little light exfoliating with jojoba oil really helps. Truly you just want to use a few drops. Just massage it into your skin (but be really gentle so you don’t cause irritation breakouts) and then rinse off with water (it will linger on your skin a bit though since it’s an oil). If you find your skin gets really oily after doing this you’re probably using too much. The right amount will leave your skin just lightly moisturized.

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