The Magic that Happened when I Stopped Washing My Face.

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I eat a super-clean, high-antioxidant, plant-based diet.

I exercise almost every day. I don’t smoke cigarettes and I rarely drink. I take pro-biotic supplements and start every morning with a glass of warm lemon water. I have a virtually stress free life.

So why does my skin look like this? It’s red, blotchy, dull, dry and oily and breaks out frequently.

What’s really bad is if you looked really close, you’d see that all of my pores are clogged. I can actually see the junk in there and can squeeze it out if I want to; it’s definitely disgusting.

Oh, one thing I always do too that should lend itself to super healthy skin is that I cleanse, tone and moisturize my face twice a day.

The healthy lifestyle habits I listed up top are new things and some of them I’ve only been doing for a year, but I’ve always been good about washing and treating my face.  And interestingly, I’ve always had the same skin problems. It’s a very curious thing!

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results and to tell you the truth that goes through my mind every time I treat my face.

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I’ve tried all kinds of ways to treat my skin woes from expensive cleansers and creams, natural remedies like apple cider vinegar and coconut oil and of course special treatments like pore strips, masks and spa facials. That’s just to name a few; I’ve tried them all.

Nothing ever makes a difference. My skin stays exactly the same. Lifestyle changes obviously haven’t helped it either.

So I’m ready to try something really different. I’m ready to consider that all the stuff I’m using to clean and treat my face, no matter the recipe, is what’s causing my problems.

I recently read an article online about the Caveman Regimen, which basically entails never washing your face—ever.

Crazy, I know, but many people who have tried it say that it clears up acne and makes your skin glow-y and beautiful.

I learned that when we wash our skin we remove a natural defense system called the “acid mantle,” which is a very fine, slightly acidic film that acts as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin.

Of course, when washing, we also remove the natural oils which is why we then need to follow up with moisturizer. It really makes sense to me now that all my efforts to have baby soft skin could have been undermining my body’s own attempts at staying healthy and beautiful.

I believe that the body has the power to heal itself. I eat a very nutrient dense diet and I’m ready to trust that if i leave my skin alone it can repair the damage done by all the years of “treatment” I have put it through.

I’m thinking of it as a face detox. My face will see nothing but water, air and love. Oh and eye makeup—I can survive without foundation, but not my mascara. I’ll use coconut oil to remove it at night.

My results:

Woot! The pictures below speak for themselves! It only took a few days for the redness and oily appearance to subside. My pores are still clogged, no improvement there, but I really don’t care since I’m saving so much time and money by not washing, toning and moisturizing twice a day.

I am really surprised my face didn’t break out at all during this process. There wasn’t even a rebellion period where my face got all screwy as it adjusted to no washing. It was almost like from day one it was just relieved to be left alone for once. From day one, the blemishes started diminishing.

And since I lost the habit of treating my face at night I even fell asleep with my foundation on quite a few times when I did wear it. No breakouts! On days that I do dab on some foundation (rarely) I wash with a mild toner (sometimes the morning after), but absolutely no cleanser or moisturizer except for sunscreen that I sometimes put on my nose and chin.

Needless to say, I’m keeping up the caveman regimen!


author: Lealyn Poponi

Image: Author's own

Editor: Travis May

Waylon Lewis & Health Expert John Douillard on Ayurveda 101

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maryannallin01 Nov 28, 2018 12:23pm

Congrats on the lovely skin! I am 60 years old and never wash my face with soap or cleansers. Just a wipe off with warm water. I do use a serum and moisturize and this has left me with skin the looks less that 40 years old, no blemishes and very few wrinkles. It gets noticed!

Nancy Tripp Nov 28, 2018 10:04am

I haven’t washed my face with anything other than water since I was in my 20’s. I’m almost 70 now, and people tell me I look like I’m in my 50’s. Truthfully q I rarely get suntans either. It wasn’t a conscious thing, I was just to busy working and taking care of my family. I’m glad now and really encourage others to just give water a try. Plus it’s a whole lot cheaper!

Kathleen Lane Nov 28, 2018 9:50am

I love ej. It’s diverse and puts out great info and articles I’ve never even thought about. It’s the best thing on Facebook.

anonymous Feb 2, 2016 12:49am

Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm also trying each and every skin care product available in my area for better improvement in my skin but nothing worked. After reading your experience, I am feeling like, let's give it a try. Thanks again.

anonymous Jan 28, 2016 6:32am

When I read your article a few weeks ago I was desperate. I have had problem skin since I was a tennager. I've tried long-term antibiotics and various contraceptives. Some helped a bit but other just had horrible side-effects. For the last 15 years, I've just learned to live with it.
Like you, I do everything right – good diet, exercise, lots of water etc… but my skin remained a mess. I was at my wits end and ready to try prescription meds again when I read your article and thought, what the hell, let's give it a try. Since that day I have not had a single new blemish appear, and the ones I had already are healing beautifully. I realise that it's early days, but if the other comments are anything to go by, this 'fix' will last. I just wish I had known about this 20 years ago!
Thank you for sharing!

anonymous Jan 15, 2016 8:13am

Hi there!

That’s the thing. Almost year ago (around march last year) I got so absolutely frustrated. No matter what I did, the acne on my face wouldn’t go away. There is a medical treatment I heard about, but it’s dangerous and side effects are unpleasant, and there’s no one who wouldn’t have them. I eat healthy, gluten free and vegan, my nutrition is balanced and rich, I run at least 3 times a week and practice yoga every morning, and drink alcohol maybe once a month a glass of vine. So there shouldn’t be any problems with my skin (doctors I went to were clueless).

One morning I just decided to quit using any kind of cosmetics on my face. No foundation, no peelings, no toners, no moistures. Nothing. Beginning was hard, I could see how my skin cleans itself, there was just one big disaster on my face. It took 4 months to go through awful breakouts. Then I made a mistake and started using foundation again, and the problem reappeared. Right now I’m back on my way – the only thing I have in my bathroom is natural olive soap I used as a soap and shampoo, and coconut oil. Nothing else. And my skin has never been better (:

Thanks for sharing!

anonymous Jan 12, 2016 4:12pm

Awesome article! I accidentally tried out “the cavewoman regimen” myself when I was on a month long climbing trip in thailand– everyday I was covered in chalk, clay, dirt, dust, bat guano, plant-based sunscreen and at least two liters of my own sweat. In the evening I would wash my face with cool water (thoroughly) and my skin overall looked better than it ever has in my life– not even tiny bit broken out. I can’t believe that I bought into the idea that somehow our brilliant body needs to be babied to such an extent to be able to take care of itself!

anonymous Jan 12, 2016 11:32am

Great information!

I have an on and off relationship with acne ever since but it was just last year that it made me feel so bad, i don’t want to go outside anymore. Acne literally placed its mark on every part of my face and it is really horrible. I’ve experienced different types of acne, from the small white ones to the large cystic acne. Ohh god the horror and pain of it all!!! And I’ve tried EVERYTHING to help me with the problem but nothing worked!! Changed my diet, exercised, used different creams, face wash, cleanser and other stuffs.

I become so hopeless, I kept on thinking, I have acne, I have scars, nothing is working and it makes me put down myself even more.

Until one day, an internet friend gave me an advice of using only epsom salt for my cystic acne,. I was hesistant at first but i thought to might as well try it since im in my worst condition and I have nothing to lose. So, I tried it and after a day or two, I noticed the changes on my face, it is not that reddish anymore, my face is not dry, my cystic acne are getting smaller, because of the first good results I apply it continuously, every night for a couple of weeks. And afterwards the results were amazing!

Little to no breakouts, no painful cystic acne, no reddish spots at all.

I first thought that it was all because of the help of epsom salt alone, but it surprised me when I try to write down my cleaning face routine at that time… It was almost completely nothing… Only water at morning. And epsom salt with water at night. I realized that my face itself is the main contributor in healing my acne. Not the creams, not doctors, not medicines, not at all. Leave it alone and it shall act accdg to its will and purpose. I cannot say I am acne free, I also have scars and I do get occasional acne during my monthly period that goes away after a couple of days, but I feel completely happy and contended. I will just keep on trusting my body to help me heal in time.

This is a great post that proves it. And I also recommend it.

anonymous Jan 12, 2016 9:49am

i haven't washed my face in yeaaars for maybe liek more than 5 years already? if i do, which i do maybe every other month is wash with natural ingredients to scrub my face. the condition of my face has improved so much!

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 10:38pm

Since I was a teenager all my friends wore tons of makeup used cleansers and had terrible skin which they they had to scrub and cover. Mostly due to laziness I have always skipped “washing my face” much to the horror of the makeup counter girls, but I have always been complimented on how nice my skin is. I do use neutrogena sunscreen during the harsh summer months to answer KIMBERLY LO.

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 8:38pm

I use only water on 80% of my skin now and never felt better. I had horrible dry skin with lots of acne on my face and legs and all that is gone with just one simple change. It really is that easy.

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 7:49pm

Hey, great article! My skin has always been a stress for me since high school due to acne and sensitivity. I went through loads of products and eventually came to a point in my life where I learned about the huge impact diet has on your skin. I went strict Paleo and my skin went amazing, by my standards. I was pretty impressed. I do have a tendency to get dry, but that was due to excessive intake of dehydrating things, and not enough water. My skin is also sensitive to too many foods with histamines (I’m so sensitive!) For over a year I used nothing but water and a tea tree vitamin e moisturizer. The only problem that created eventually, when my work environment changed, was my skin was a little rough and dull. I was tired of feeling insecure so I went back on a twice daily, 3 step regimen. Now I’m wondering if I should have… I know that I don’t get acne if I avoid dairy, and specifically whey, and gluten for the most part. As silly as it sounds, it’s scary to go back to doing literally nothing to your skin once you’re convinced you need skincare products… The winter sucks where I live too because it’s cold and moist and then inside buildings it’s hot and dry, so my skin goes uh wtf mayte. Anyway.. rant over I suppose. Again thanks for the share, maybe I’ll get brave again and go back to basics!

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 7:34pm

What do you do about sunscreen?

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 6:33pm

I want to try this. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, have been “soap free” on the rest of my skin for a few years now (save for when I know I’m actually full of dirt or grime, not just a little daily sweat under my clothes). Daily I spot treat with natural liquid foundation over my nose and chin just to cover the same pesky redness! Thank you for sharing!

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 3:20pm

I don’t understand how you can skip washing your face if you wear makeup at all. Sleeping in makeup is the worst thing you can do as your skin absorbs whatever is on your face when you sleep. It’s similar to the no-poo movement. As someone with naturally curly hair who uses a ton of product to straighten it, I could never skip washing. So unless you go completely makeup and hair product free, it needs to be removed. Just my two cents.

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 1:30pm

I honestly dont think this is related to washing the face or not… There must be other factors involved.

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 1:03pm

Thank you ! I have the same problems I am going to try that begening tomorow, if I have the same resuslts as you I will be for ever thankfull.

anonymous Jan 11, 2016 12:52pm

I have not washed my face in years. My skin has never looked so good. I do splash with water in the morning and the 'oil cleanse' at night, which is slightly different than what you are doing. I also massage my face with light oils from time to time and also do a raw honey mask every couple of weeks. The raw honey really pulls any gunk out. Thanks for sharing. Too many people have been brainwashed by the cosmetics industry to think we need all these products. Time to set the record straight. Well done.

Tweetest Tweetest Aug 16, 2017 6:13am

As a man ..I learned this on my own 30 yrs ago. I was breaking out all the time. I started to just let the water hit my face from the shower washing soap. Everything cleared up in a month. I do dry my face with a towel ..a little rubbing when doing so ..a little exfoliation is good. I'm 46 and still get carded for alcohol's keeps the face young. I also don't use soap on my body except arm pits, feet, groin and neither region BUT not on my butt ..very important. My body would break out here and there ..this stopped that as well.

Sharon Miller Apr 24, 2016 6:45pm

Totally agree! See a real difference in just using coconut oil only...

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Lealyn Papaya

Lealyn Papaya is a curious lover of life who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. Recently she “consciously uncoupled” with her husband of 9 years and now enjoys pondering and studying the art and meaning of love by diving into the teachings of OSHO, Rumi and Thich Nhat Hanh. She is challenging herself and others to drop limiting beliefs about love that have been passed on for generations. In addition to writing, she enjoys practicing circus arts, eating vegan food, starting cuddle puddles and causing a scene. To find out more about Lealyn, please visit her website.