You might be familiar with the three-step skincare regime every beginner should know: cleanse, tone, moisturise.
As adults, most of us probably prescribe to that routine. But remember the days when we were younger and didn’t have to slap on a tonne of facial products and still look great?
Don’t even get me started on packing for a one-night staycation, much less for a holiday. I’d have to bring along my face cleanser, serum, hydrating lotion, mask and the list goes on.
It gives me minor anxiety each time I have to pack for a trip because I’d have to choose which bottles get left behind to cut down on baggage weight, and that will usually mess up my skincare routine.
I thought to myself, there must be an easier way to maintain my face without this many facial products, and chanced upon articles online about the benefits of not washing your face.
So, I decided to put myself through another beauty experiment: to stop cleansing my face.
But before you judge me and think I’m dirty, I’ll not be washing my face only in the morning for an entire week. My usual skincare routine of cleansing and moisturising will still be done at night.
I have combination skin, so my face gets oily in the T-zone and dry in other parts.
I started the first day of my experiment on a Sunday, knowing I’ll be home the entire day. So if my face feels uncomfortably oily or dry at any time of the day, I know I can remedy it quickly or maybe even call it quits.
I wasn’t quite used to just washing my face with water, but I enjoyed how quick it took to freshen up in the morning.
I had skipped putting on serum and hydrating lotion altogether too.
My joy was very short-lived when my face started tightening up and feeling like a prune from being too dry. But I wasn’t going to let it deter me.
To make up for the dryness, my face started becoming excessively oily midday. I couldn’t wait to wash my face in the night and give it the usual TLC.
I had a good 10 minutes more to sleep in because prep time is shorter.
This time, after washing my face with water, I applied a thin layer of aloe vera gel on my face to prevent it from drying up like the previous day.
I went on to apply sunscreen lotion and light makeup consisting of foundation and blusher.
Usually, my face gets really oily right after lunch, especially after having fried food.
But with this new routine, I noticed my skin produces lesser sebum. Even though it is still slightly oily, I don’t feel the need to wipe it or clean it with a tissue paper.
Surprisingly, day two went pretty well, even though some parts of the face like the chin area were slightly dry.
DAY THREE & FOUR
I’m all for lazy girl hacks, so by day three and four I’d become accustomed to the idea of not washing my face with cleanser in the morning. Anything to spend time more efficiently.
But because my chin and nose were dry, it started becoming itchy and a pimple or two broke out.
Though, I must say it cleared up as quickly as it appeared and didn’t stay on for more than a day.
DAY FIVE & SIX
By day five and six, I could feel that my skin was getting used to this new regime.
Before embarking on this experiment, I had tiny oil bumps around my jawline and cheekbones.
I thought the bumps would only go away if I go for my facial appointments regularly, but after being coerced by pushy therapists into buying their overpriced packages one too many times, I’ve since shunned facial treatments altogether.
Day six into the regime, the tiny oil bumps started clearing up and my skin looked brighter. Perhaps it was starting to balance out itself, and because it wasn’t excreting too much sebum, my pores weren’t clogged.
I even toyed with the idea of not washing my face with a cleanser at the end of the day because my face still felt fresh and clean.
Maybe one day I’ll get rid of my cleanser and stop washing my face entirely? We’ll see.
One week into the experiment and I almost broke the cycle. This happened after vacuuming the floor and breaking out in perspiration.
I instinctively reached out to get my face wash when showering. I kid you not when I say I had a “shoulder angel versus devil” moment.
A part of me wanted to place the face wash back on the rack, while another part of me was tempted to wash my “post-workout” face since the experiment would be over by the end of the day.
For the sake of accuracy, I reluctantly washed my face with water alone. I did, however, take a little more time to rinse my face under the water, fooling myself into thinking it’ll remove every trace of dirt and oil.
I thought my face would be disgustingly grimy throughout the day, but all was well even after putting on a full face of makeup.
My skin is nowhere near perfect after washing it only with water in the morning for a week, but my complexion has never been better.
If you do try this, my advice would be to stick it out for a week, as I did see my skin improving from the fifth day onward.
Instead of feeling like my pores are clogged with oil, the natural sebum produced by my skin now feels like a protective layer of moisturiser that isn’t overly greasy or intolerable.
The best thing I got out of this experiment is that my makeup looks almost matt, as a result of my face being less oily and my pores becoming smaller.
I’m confident I’ll reach the day when my face is shine-free, and hopefully, I’ll be less dependant on skincare products.
I don’t think I’ll ever wash my face in the morning again since this has worked out for my skin. Also, with this regime, I foresee saving more money on skincare products since I’ll be using lesser of it. Little wins in life!
Do note that different skin types will yield different results, and perhaps consult a dermatologist or skin care professional if you intend to try this out.
Text and images: Melissa Goh / AsiaOne / August 2019