I haven’t washed my face in three days.
No, I’m not stranded in the wilderness. And no, it’s not do to some slovenly habit I picked up from my travels. And no, I don’t look disheveled—I looked quite tidy today, thank you. I’ve just chosen not to wash my face.
You see, I’d really like my skin to clear up.
Before you decide to point out the apparent flaw in my reasoning, allow me to explain. Once upon a time, I had clear skin. Then second puberty kicked in right before I turned twenty one (no one ever warns you about second puberty) and my face was a mine field. My conventional face wash no longer worked, and I felt pretty disgusting about how I looked.
I know that the typical solution is to hide the problem with makeup. But I’m not typical. I have never worn makeup, nor do I plan to. Not that my face couldn’t use a little help, especially these days. My reasons for choosing not to wear have evolved over the years, but that’s another post for another day. The simple explanation is that I don’t wear makeup because I don’t want to.
So I changed face soaps. When that didn’t work, I tried stronger face creams that my dermatologist gave me. Those sort of worked— most of the bumps went away, but the oil spill didn’t, and I still felt disgusting. I was getting welts on my face and neck now. The mild acne had crossed the line from embarrassing to painful.
Librarian hippie that I am, I started researching alternative, natural skin care. I tried all kinds of things. I started with “all natural” bottled face washes from Walmart (read labels, folks), but eventually tried washing my face with honey, egg whites, oils, whatever I read about that might help. I had mixed success. But I still didn’t look the way I did over a year ago. I missed that face.
It’s occurred to me over these past several months that worrying about my skin is probably 80% of the problem. The more I was willing to see problems with my face, the more problems I saw.
So I let it go. My skin’s still a mess, but I don’t care as much, which is pretty freeing.
I stumbled upon a skin care solution called “The Caveman Method.” Many people have had incredible success by trying this strange trick. It’s weird and brave and radical, but the science behind it is so interesting that I’m willing to give it a go.
Ladies, listen to this: don’t do anything to your face and watch what happens. Forget the special washes and the creams and the concealers and blotting sheets. Don’t even let water touch you face. Do nothing for a month, and your skin might heal itself.
I’m going to back up and explain.
Our skin produces a fine protective coating of sebum and sweat called the acid mantle. This acid mantle protects our skin from invading toxins and bacteria. As children, our acid mantles have a pH of 7, but during puberty the number drops to 5.5. We start getting blemishes at this point, and conventional wisdom says to start scrubbing our faces with whatever product promises the best results. But the scrubbing destroys the mantle, and the added chemicals don’t give it a chance to rebuild itself. Scrubbing destroys our skin’s best defense system. So we break out even more. So we buy more products. So we scrub more. So we break out more still. The cosmetics industry has us pegged, dudes.
But stopping all attempts at cleaning—even using water—allows your skin to heal at its own pace. Our skin regenerates every 30 days. Let your skin rest for 30 days, and it builds a layer of dead skin cells that protects your skin while it heals itself underneath. After 30 days, this mask flakes off. Go another month to see what happens. Go back to splashing your face with water after this point.
Take care of your diet. Exercise. Go live. Don’t think about your face. Don’t worry about what people think about your face. Other people have bigger problems on their plate than your skin problems. Let it all go and see what happens.
So I’m letting it go to see what happens.
Which is why I haven’t washed my face in three days.