What happens if you stop cleansing and moisturising your skin?

Inspired by reading an interview with Adina Grigore where she puts the argument for doing nothing to your skin forward, I decided to ditch my skincare products for a week to see what would happen. After all if those wanting to detox their bodies cut out foods, so if I wanted to “reset” my skin it makes sense to stop using products… right?

During my skin detox I didn’t just stop washing my face, I stopped using anything on my face. All I did was splash my face with water twice a day and that was it. No cleansers, no serums, no makeup, nothing!

Before we get into my diary for the week, here are some quick facts about me and my skin.

Skin Profile

Age: 28

Skin type: Dry to normal. Prone to the odd blemish or spot.

Regular skincare routine: single cleanse in the morning followed by serum, SPF moisturiser, eye cream and lip balm. Double cleanse in the evening using a muslin cloth, followed most days by an acid toner, rosehip oil, eye cream, moisturiser and lip balm.

Skin concerns: hydration, dryness, blemishes, early signs of ageing.

Skin Diary

Day 1

Within half an hour of splashing my face with water my skin felt very tight and dry. My lips felt especially dry and uncomfortable. After a few hours my skin settled down a bit although it still felt a bit tight, but my lips felt awful.

In the evening when I washed my face with water my skin felt tight again, but my lips felt so awful and uncomfortable I caved and used some lip balm. From this point on I used nothing on my face, but I continued to use lip balm twice a day. Lips and face aren’t the same thing right?

Day 2

I headed out for a morning run. I was a bit concerned about going out without an SPF, but went anyway. I didn’t use water on my face before the run, but washed it with water in the shower afterwards. My skin felt tight again afterwards, but not as tight as the day before… maybe my skin was getting used to fending for itself?

Day 3-4

Headed into work and gave my colleagues a disclaimer that I would not be wearing makeup this week as I was conducting an experiment. I noticed that my skin was beginning to adjust to its new routine, although it was still feeling tight around my forehead and eye area. I also noticed that my existing pimples were drying out and miraculously no new ones had appeared.

Day 5

My skin was starting to feel rough. Probably because I usually exfoliate 4-5 nights a week and this coupled with a lack of moisture was giving it a rough texture. Suddenly I felt that a week without my skin products seemed an ambitiously long time. But just two more days to go.

Day 6

I mentioned that my skin felt rough to my other half who replied that because my skin was used to being treated like royalty, the new rough texture was just how “normal” skin feels. Hmmm maybe some truth there.

Day 7

The last day of my experiment and I break out in a huge spot. My previous belief that not using so many products was making my blemishes disappear is clearly a lie. I cannot wait to do a good old double cleanse, I have definitely missed my skincare products.

What did I learn?

During this experiment my skin felt dry and uncomfortable throughout the week. Clearly a moisturiser is an essential part of my skincare routine. I was worried that not using a cleanser would cause my skin to breakout, but this did not happen (apart from the last day). In fact any existing pimples that I had tried out throughout the week, so I think this could work for oilier skins.

I definitely see some benefits in cutting down my skincare routine. Moving forward I am going to skip my morning cleanse in favour of a splash of water – what is there to cleanse away in the morning anyway? Although since my skin detox I have continued with the rest of my usual routine. One final thought, since I have started using my products again after my “skin reset” my skin feels better than ever. Maybe there is some benefit in doing a skin detox after all. Even if only to shock your skin into appreciating all the products you treat it with.


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