How I Improved My Acne By Not Washing My Face.

Yes, it’s true.

My acne has improved 90% in the last three months. My face is no longer uncontrollably oily. How? Why? Did I stop eating chocolate? Nope. Did I stop eating sugar? Nope. Did I give up steaks and bacon? Negative. Did I start taking a miracle pill, use a new face wash, or start birth control again? No. None of it.

I gave up all the products I had been using to battle my acne. I gave up the anti-acne face lotion, the face scrub, the toners, the salicylic acid, the benzoyl peroxide, all of it. I put it in a bag and stuck it in the back of a cabinet (fearful that my new endeavor would fail). It’s been three months since I started this no-washing and I haven’t retrieved a single product from that bag.

My inspiration to do this began when I read about the Caveman Skin Regimen at The Love Vitamin. This is where you stop putting anything on your face (including makeup and water). You let your skin take care of itself for awhile, go through a chemical withdrawal process, and supposedly your skin will be awesome. I’m a skeptic, so I wasn’t convinced. At the same time, I was willing to give anything a try to 1.) help my acne, 2.) save time battling acne, and 3.) save money by not having to buy all these products.

So I modified the Regimen – there was no way I wasn’t using make up and there was no way I wasn’t going to wash my face (I actually have a job and a (small) social life). So, I ditched my products and decided I would wash only with a washcloth and water to remove my makeup at night, and in the shower I would wash only with almond oil infused with a few drops of tea tree oil. I didn’t remove the oil on my face in the morning and instead opted to put makeup on over my oily face (which actually looked fine). So, I would only ever wash my face if I had makeup on that day – either with a washcloth and water, or in the shower with the oil. If my face did not have makeup to wash off, I did not wash it.

I was afraid my skin would go through a terrible ‘withdrawal period’ at some point. This was simply not the case. To my surprise, the amount of oil my face was producing almost went to zero. My acne has changed from obnoxious blackheads, breakouts around my chin and on my cheeks, large cystic zits a couple times a month, to minuscule whiteheads and maybe a couple zits here and there – you know, like a normal person’s skin. The only issue I had was a brief build up of dead skin around my nose which I just rubbed off with my fingers.

Other products I gave up around this time that may also be contributing to the improvement: detergent (replaced with castille soap), fabric softener (replaced with fabric softening balls), and shampoo/conditioner (replaced with baking soda and vinegar).

I’m not a scientist nor a professional, so I can’t give you an answer as to what it is about the products I’ve been using that were irritating my skin and exacerbating my acne.  I’m chalking it up to ‘chemicals’ and screwing up my skin’s PH balance with them. There is solid research on the internet as to why not washing your face will improve the health of your skin – your skin builds an acidic barrier to protect itself against bacteria and fungus and by washing that off and killing it twice a day with products, you are making your skin susceptible to acne. Also, like what shampoo does to hair, you are stripping it of the sebum it produces to moisturize and protect itself, thereby causing the skin to work overtime to produce more.

So, if you have acne, or even if you don’t, consider that all those products you are buying may be a complete waste of your time and money. This might not solve everyone’s issues, as some acne has other root causes (hormonal imbalance, food allergies, etc.), but it helped me and could be worth a try for you.

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31 responses to How I Improved My Acne By Not Washing My Face.

  1. I agree – I’ve found the second I ditched all the “acne” products and just simplified my skin-care routine, my “chin-nee” cleared up. I no longer have the chin of a teenager!

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  2. 01

    DON’T wash your skin with oil (oil baths, OCM, etc) if you have dehydrated skin, it’ll kill your skin… It almost destroyed mine. Now trying hardcore caveman to repair the damage. Oil gave me fine lines.

    Like

  3. Tawny Manning

    I see that you wrote this in past tense about in reference to your routine.
    Do you still use the oil on your face in the shower?
    Or just water and a washcloth? Do you do one of the two more frequently?
    And if you don’t wear makeup, how often do you wash your face?

    Starting this new journey! I’ve been using proactive for years. Super excited. Thanks!

    -Tawny

    Like

    • Pale Osprey – Author

      I still try to use this routine, but lately I have been using vitamin E oil as a moisturizer and to try and minimize my acne scars. I switched birth control methods and found that I will break out after taking my depo shot. I still use tea tree oil frequently to tone and lessen these breakouts. Otherwise my face and routine are the same!

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  4. Irene Garcia

    Hi osprey, great post. I’ve been on a modified regimen with only washing my face in the eveningshower because I can’t show up to work or go out without make up either.
    I have very oily skin, but been patting my skin in the am with tissue before makeup because I’m so oily, maybe I should stop… but my question for you is, when you wash your face at night with water, do you moisture or tone afterwards? Or do you not use anything? I wash my makeup/face with sebamed facewash then tone with apple cider vinegar then jojoba.

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    • Pale Osprey – Author

      I have been moisturizing with vitamin E lately to try and minimize my acne scarring. In the past I’ve used jojoba oil and coconut oil, both worked well for me!

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  5. Jade Mihalicz

    I love this! I’ve just been researching the Caveman Regimen now, and I have to admit that it looks promising. I’ve battled with cystic acne for years, and after reducing my diet to lean meat and green juice for over a year I was horrified to still be dealing with the same issue no matter what I did. I’ve used every product known to man (I don’t even know if that’s an exaggeration any more) and nothing has ever worked. Ever. Plus, sensitive + acne prone skin is an IMPOSSIBLE combination to deal with. I’m pretty chuffed to hear about your success!

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    • Pale Osprey – Author

      Wish I had some great advice for you, Jade. Have you tried getting an allergy test to see if it is being caused by something in your environment or something you are consuming? If it is hormone-related, have you experimented with different types of birth control?

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  6. elijah

    I just wanted to confirm that I cured my own acne back in 2009 by not washing my face and a hardly ever do till this day. I actually Learned to do it myself. As I was studying biology at a university I realized that the oils in your skin produce an enzyme that destroys bacteria. You skin is also naturally acidic, which makes it a tough environment for bacteria to live in. So I theorized that I had been causing my own acne as I was removing my body’s own natural defense through excessive washing. Certain chemicals may be alkaline in nature, effectively altering get the pH of your skin, which allows more bacterial growth.
    I not only cured my acne, but years of not washing my face, I believe, has led to younger looking skin. I am almost 32 and people still think I am in my early 20s.

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    • Pale Osprey – Author

      Thank you for this comment! Very encouraging to continue with this method.

      Like

  7. Nancy

    What about sunscreen?

    swimming in a pool (chlorine)?

    Do you filter out fluoride in drinking water?

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    • Pale Osprey – Author

      Sunscreen causes me to break out but I wear it anyway when I have to be in the sun for very long. I don’t swim in pools often since I live on a lake. I don’t have chlorinated water, I have a well. I drink tap with fluoride and don’t buy into fluoride conspiracies.

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  8. Denise Tiara Johnson

    I have seen puss actually pour out of my pores after successional no washing showers after a few days..my guess is it was already in there and being produced but allowing it to pour out might be a good idea. Watch it and let it go on until it basically stops. And monitor temperature my own routine and strwss management further. The only time I didnt have much acne was the worst period of my life about age 27 I was so stressed physically. I am pretty sure acne “control” is a large picture matter and Spot treatment is a overall poor choice versus ignoring the puss drainage. Thoughts appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. belinda

    I do this from time to time where I don’t do anything to my face except brush my brows and curl my lashes that’s about as much make up I wear.
    Reading this i think I’ll do it again as I’ve fallen into the I’ve got to wash my face because I have to again.
    I’ll add that natural youghurt as a mask helps with redness too as I get that .
    Hope that helps.
    It’s also good as a hair masque but you need to shampoo it out.
    Belinda

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Erika

    Hi Pale! I was wondering how you got rid of your scars? I’m just starting the process of not using anything on my face

    Like

    • Pale Osprey – Author

      I haven’t been able to get rid of my scars but I do notice that when my face is clear, my pores show less. I have heard that using vitamin E oil will lessen their appearance.

      Like

  11. Dommy

    Hi Pale,

    How looks your diet? Do you eat dairy, chocolate etc.? Your skin looks great.

    Like

    • Pale Osprey – Author

      I do eat chocolate and drink a lot of whole milk.

      Like

  12. Kate

    did you have any problems with your skin when started this process? i mean inflammation, redness, new zits etc. and how bad was your acne before?

    Like

    • Pale Osprey – Author

      I frequently got very large, painful zits under the skin on my cheeks, under my chin, and on my back. I would break out around my lips with blackheads, whiteheads, and around my eyebrows. I would also have random outbreaks all around my chin. My skin was also discolored – red around my nose and on my chin. Sometimes I also experienced patches of eczema on my face, mostly in the chin area.

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    • Pale Osprey

      Yes, my blackheads have all but disappeared. I only have a few whiteheads here and there.

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    • Melinda

      How did you wash with the oil in the shower? what was your process for this?

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    • Pale Osprey – Author

      I put a couple drops of oil into my hands, rub my hands together, then massage the oil into my face. When I get out of the shower I doubt my face off with a towel gently.

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  13. Mel

    You look great! I’m battling with super sensitive skin, and I’m eliminating chemicals as well from my skin! Been washing my face with Olive Oil then water surprisingly it’s not as red! :) perhaps it’s true, the very products we think will help our skin are so chemical ridden it makes it even worse :) glad to hear your face is clearing up! :)

    Like

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