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Can You Treat Acne By Not Washing Your Face?

Posted in General Health 14 Apr, 2015

We are bombarded with beauty and fitness adverts day-in-day-out, claiming they will give us glossier hair, better abs and, you guessed it, clearer skin. However, are most of our beloved products doing more harm than good? After all, cavemen and women did just fine, and they were rocking some seriously good bedhead too.

The Caveman Regimen Theory

This philosophy is based on the idea that leaving your skin alone is best, and it works as follows:


- The 'All In' policy: no water, no wash products, no moisturising products, no picking and no makeup – nothing!

- The 'Water Only' policy: one splash of water once a day, no wash products, no moisturising products, no picking and no makeup

- The 'Moisturise Only' policy: minimal water, no wash products, limited moisturising products, no picking and no makeup


Whichever you decide to opt for, one thing is for certain, for a large percentage of us it means radically evolving our current skincare routine. But what does limiting your contact with manufactured products - and even H2O - do to your skin? Can it cure acne?


Our 'acid mantle' and why it's so important

The theory surrounding the 'Caveman Regimen' is extremely valid. We never needed all these products in the past because our body has a pretty foolproof way of looking after itself. For your skin, when you hit puberty it develops a layer called 'acid mantle'. Consisting of sweat and sebum - an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands - this acid mantle has a PH of 5.5 and acts as a protective layer on the skin. In contrast to the severity of the name, the acid mantle is only slightly acidic and overall fairly neutral. Due to this delicate PH balance, you are discouraged from washing with an alkaline substance such as your average bar soap – it disrupts your acid mantle and body's natural equilibrium.

So this oily layer we're often so keen to remove is actually aiding our skin in the fight against acne, wrinkles and bacteria filling up the pores. It appears we have some apologising to do...


Does it work?

A-Listers such as Lady Gaga have openly admitted to steering clear of cleansers and even sleeping with a full face of make-up – shocker - but rather than leaving our argument to celebrity hearsay, we decided to do a little digging for ourselves.

For those embracing this new lifestyle choice, there might be an initial struggle but it's the change in attitude that can be the most liberating. No more time, energy and money wasted on products that you have now proven have a limited effect on your skin. Here are the pros and cons:


Positive effects

Those who have found it successful admit it is hard work, but the difference includes reduced redness, clearer complexion, less shine and less breakouts too.

No longer will you fall victim to bold claims of flawless skin, revolutionary ingredients and the latest fads. You know better, and your wallet will reap the benefits too. Whilst most tend to readopt certain habits – wearing makeup or a daily moisturising sesh for example – there is definitely a shift in the amount of products used and time spent thereafter. Those that are motivated by this tend to try other aspects of The Caveman Regimen such as not washing their hair and stripping back on unnecessary products potentially exacerbate their issues – body washes and even adjusting their existing dietary regimes.


Negative effects

Even for those not entirely on-board, there were still no cases of the regimen having many negative side effects. You may not have won, but you haven't made your situation worse either. Whilst some noted an occasional breakout, they also clarified that this is something that was very likely to have happened anyway, and could in fact be more closely linked to diet than the lack of washing. The majority agreed that the worse stage of the Caveman Regimen is the start when your skin is regulating. This may include breakouts and the simple fact that you're not used to seeing yourself without your usual barrier.

There is no conclusive evidence that the Caveman Regimen makes a huge difference, however, it does suggest that all your lotions and potions aren't working as effectively as you think. Going without can create an amazing U-turn in your current time-consuming, money-guzzling struggle against acne. If you have seen a slight improvement, or none at all, during your time without the usual creams and washes then it could be time to discover alternative remedies that are proven to significantly help control breakouts:


- Avoid alkaline rich formulas: bar soap is the biggest culprit

- Alter your diet: calcium rich foods such as broccoli and orange could help

- Leave it alone! It can difficult but refrain from picking and squeezing

- Try mineral makeup solutions

- Try prescription treatments for effective acne relief


Our beauty regimes can often act as a wall whether you are a male with moisturising tendencies or an avid female makeup-wearer. When we go through these routines, we feel ready for the day. However, opting for the minimal approach can be a liberating process you will only discover if you give it a go. It isn't for everyone, and if you do suffer with chronic acne, you may need additional help from your dermatologist regardless.


Why not try it yourself and see if you notice any difference?

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