Saturday, August 13, 2011

Healing Acne With Simplicity

As each year passes I move more and more down the path to simplicity. Each step seems to ease a small load off my back and clear just a little bit of my mind. I document some of my steps here but most I choose not to. This next one wasn't going to be one I shared, but the results have been great and I'd love to pass this on in case it could help anyone else out there.

I have acne. I'm 27 and it still plagues my face. The second puberty hit the little beasts arrived, and they haven't gone away since. Until recently there hasn't been much that has offered any relief either. I have religiously washed my face every morning, and every night for just about as long as I could remember. I've even had friends comment on their amazement of my ability to make it a priority even after a night of drinking and staying out late (something which is no longer part of my life). Instead of crashing right to bed and passing out, I always made sure to wash my face and drink as much water as I could stomach first.

It never occurred to me that all this washing could be part of the problem. Though the years I moved from nasty paraben filled toxic concoctions to more "healthy" brands of cleaners. My first breakthrough came when I thought "maybe my skin is just sensitive" so I started trying ultra calming soothing cleansers and moisturizers. I saw a slight improvement and thought I was on to something. Then I went to visit my sister. She lives states and an expensive plane flight away so I rarely get to see her. While visiting her she casually mentioned during one of my face washing fits that she never washed her face. It struck me as amazing! He face is a beautiful porcelain, seemingly perfect. I just assumed other factors were at play...she got the "good" genes, her body chemistry changed after giving birth, she had found the perfect combo of foods that works just right for her body.
I filed this knowledge away and continued washing my face. Slowly I started meeting more and more people who simply never wash their faces. "I just throw a little water on my face every now and then" or "I only wash when I shower...which is about once a week". Once a week??? I had been washing mine 14 times a week!

Finally my curiosity got to me and I decided to give it a shot. With very little confidence and bracing myself for it to "get worse before it gets better", I began simply wiping my face with a wet washcloth (cold water) every morning and night. If needed, I still added moisturizer. Even if I had put on makeup that day, all my face received was a cold washcloth wipe down. Once or twice a week, when I showered I would wash with an ultra gentle cleanser. You know what happened??? My face NEVER "got worse before it got better", it just got better!

This is an ongoing process of course, but at this point I'm no longer washing, even in the shower. No cleansers touch my face, just water. I've even moved from store bought moisturizers to an amazing homemade one using coconut oil infused with calendula (grown right here in my front yard).

This small act alone has made my skin smoother than I ever thought possible, dramatically improved  my acne problem, dropped two expensive items from my shopping list, stopped a trail of energy use and waste, saved me a little time everyday, and given me just a few less things to worry about. I really wish I would have tried this sooner!

I'm not going to show you before and after photos. It would be impossible to give an accurate representation of something that is constantly in flux. And I don't want to give the impression that my face is magically cured and will never have a pimple again. They still show up, but a lot less often and they seem to heal a lot quicker now too (I think that's due to the calendula).  I just wanted to share this and let people know there are other options. Other things you can try beyond just buying more products and hoping that the next one will work. As time passes I grow more and more convinced that letting everything in life go as naturally as possible seems to give the best results.


  1. I firmly believe that Americans overdue the anti-bacterial thing except in hospitals and doctors offices where infectious diseases are likely to be encountered. Some of those places need lessons in hand washing but for everyday ordinary living some never give their bodies a chance to develop anti-bodies and that are necessary for survival. I wash my face with water to remove surface dirt except when I've been working on a bike when for some reason I manage to get grease on it.

  2. I'm curious to know what you use as a sun screen? I wear hats and sleeves when possible, but I usually put a bit on sunscreen on my face in the AM, even if my makeup (which usually consists of only a light mineral powder and mascara) doesn't contain an SPF. I'm outdoors a lot, and I bike daily for work and play, plus I pull recess duty. The sun is ever-present and I don't see myself giving up that chemical on my face soon.

    I'm scared to take the plunge into no-washing-regimen, but a week trial might not be too bad.

    1. I do use a sunscreen when I feel I should and in the evening I simply scrub my face with a wet washcloth like I do every morning and evening. Nothing else.

  3. i'm 35 and had acne most of my adult life. i think i tried every acne product on the market and nothing worked. then after i had my son 5 years ago, call it a super hectic schedule or mommy neglect, but i stopped washing my face except for the occasional splash of water. my skin has never looked or felt better! a pimple will appear every once in awhile but it is usually stress related and goes away quickly. i too wish i would have stumbled upon this sooner!!

  4. I wash my face with a little honey once every day or two. (I use the local, unprocessed stuff because the honey imported from China gives me hives.) It works wonderfully! As long as I wash with honey and keep my hands away from my face, I have clear skin. A bit of herbal oil or coconut oil makes the perfect moisturizer. I'm a big believer that "less is more" when it comes to skin care.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. it's really helpful. A great reminder that simplicity is usually best :-)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I struggled with this all of last year and for at least the first half of this year because my skin went nuts after I graduated college and moved back to California ... I never tried the no-wash method and and am way too scared to, to be honest, haha. But I've learned between all the facial care regimens I tried within the last couple years, that there are also other important factors to helping keep your skin clean, including making sure you wash your bedsheets (pillowcases, most importantly, since that's where your face rests for x hours every night) frequently — try once a week maybe? — and if you use makeup brushes, clean those once a week ... the dirt adds up even if you keep it in the cleanest place in your house. Also, I tried to keep my hair away from my most acne-prone places during these times (I had longer hair), so if you have thick and/or oily hair, keep that in mind.

    There were a couple homemade facial care recipes I tried that I really liked. Once a week, I did a mask that was just plain white yogurt (I'd have to double check if it was non-fat ... I think it was) and crushed up oats. It was really calming/soothing, and gentle enough to use it more than once a week. Stress is another factor for my acne, at least; I noticed within the past years that the more stressed out I was at a job, the more likely I would have the massive acne attack once a month. That has improved significantly now. : )

  8. LLB - I do use sun screen, though admittedly not as much as I should. It's nothing fancy, just a face specific block by a pretty well known brand (it was given to me). At night I simply take a wet wash cloth and wipe down my face. It's been working great so far

    Rae - It's wonderful how simple it is. But of course, doing nothing doesn't sell products so its something that needs to be shared by friends in order to be known about.

    Sharon - I couldn't agree more :)

    Jess - no problem, I hope it works for you.

    mary b - I'm sure it won't work for everyone. Each person has their own issues going on and will need to personalize their routine. This is just an easy option to try out and I hope it helps a few people out there.

    MADE (Mayene Design)- I was told about the pillow case thing when I was a teenager and have been pretty good about changing my pillow cases often. I have two pillows. I keep track of which side I sleep on and flip each night then change once each side has been slept on. Now it's just habit and I completely forgot that its even a part of my skin care routine.

  9. The title of your post really struck me. You and I know that acne is a common problem, which means that you can try several ways to treat it. Because of that, many go too far and still fail to get the result they want. That’s why it’s important to stick to the basics. The cause of your acne might be a simple diet problem. Or like in your case, you just needed a change in your cleaning routine. :D

  10. I agree with you, Francis! There are a lot of cosmetic products available in the market today, but it doesn’t mean that we can rely on these skincare solutions at all times. Of course, you also need to help yourself in order for you to achieve a healthy and radiant skin.

  11. One reason why a person encounters acne problem is lack of sleep. While you are sleeping, your skin tries to repair your cells, so that it will be healthy and glowing the next day. If you want to keep your skin healthy, you should get enough rest. And with the help of skin care products, you'll stabilize your skin even more.

  12. Seems a bit odd to me when you said that your sister's face looks like a porcelain. I heard the same story not just once but a couple of times but do you know that there are so many factors why people are suffering from acne - stress, hormones, poor hygiene and diet etc. But anyway, I highly recommend that washing your face regularly is a great way to get rid of those unwanted spot.

  13. Acne Blemish Drying Lotion with Tea Tree Oil and natural anti-oxidants for clear, healthy skin.
    Tea Tree Oil Combines with powerful anti-oxidants to reduce inflammation, unclog pores, clear whiteheads and blackheads, and quickly heal acne blemishes. Natural acne fighting treatment and effective blemish concealer in one.

  14. do your pores got better also after tryign this regimen?