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  • Writer's pictureChin Ling

Does No-Cleanse Work for my Skin?

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Every so often I try a skincare trend just to see what all the fuss is about and this year, I was interested in no cleansing.

It’s a bit like detox for your body. The idea is we tend to over-wash and remove more than just excess oils and dirt from our face, therefore this washing can make skin worse. If we leave it out altogether, our skin will find its own balance and will improve all on its own, almost like a self-cleanse.

The beauty therapist in me somewhat agrees with the principle but only 10% of the way. Yes, there is over cleansing. Once a day suffices for most of us and that happens at the end of the day when we take off all the dirt that’s accumulated on our skin from pollution, air conditioning, heating, general sweating, bacteria and dead skin cells. But the principle of no cleansing at all doesn’t make sense to me. I wanted to try it. For a month.

I wear very little make-up, just Colorescience powder SPF50 or SPF30 and a bit of lippie. I decided to not use serums (as they wouldn’t work very well through a barrier of dirt), just moisturiser. My skin can get dehydrated but is otherwise soft, smooth, bright and with little signs of previous acne. I still get the odd spot which disappears quickly.

The first 3 days was a novelty because I didn’t have to set aside 3 minutes to cleanse (that’s how long I take!). I just slapped on moisturiser at night. Morning was sun cream and powder. My skin felt no different.

End of the first week, spots were starting to appear. The general texture and look of my skin was no different.

Come the second week, I barely wanted to put on moisturiser. It felt like I was adding another layer on top of the dirt. More spots were appearing, not the small ones or even the blackheads that you can extract. These were the below-the-skin ones that you daren’t touch because you’ll spread more germs, make them worse and they hurt loads. At the end of the second week, I no longer had a fine, smooth texture but rough patches. I was glad I had powder to cover up the grimyness and the spots. My skin looked tired and sallow and I found myself having to wear more make-up to cover up.

I made it into the third week but I felt dirty. I didn’t make it into week 4 because I decided I couldn’t wait to feel clean and soft again so I gave in and did a double cleanse.

Why does the no-cleanse routine work for some people?

If you’re using the wrong products for your skin, these could be causing inflammation which shows itself as redness, dryness or even spots. Stopping the offending product allows the inflammation to die down.

If you’re a fan of scrubs and exfoliators, the particles may be causing spots to appear because they could be getting into pores and causing inflammation in that area.

If you over-cleanse or over-scrub, you could be taking off the oils that your skin needs for its protection, so disrupting the acid mantle. It’s a bit like making holes in the roof of your house.

If you feel the above resonates with you, there are 2 things you can easily do now.

1) cleanse just at the end of the day. In the morning, rinse your face with water.

2) Change your cleanser.

If you want to do simple cleansing.

1) Use a gentle cleanser that removes excess oil without upsetting the acid mantle.

2) If your skin reacts and goes red, wrap oats in gauze to make a small ball, dip in water and use to cleanse. If you haven’t gauze, tights or stockings also work as they won’t scratch.

If you want to use absolutely no cleanser.

1) Wet a soft cloth in warm water and use that to rub gently on your face.

Whichever method you go for, your skin needs to be cleansed. At some point.

Imagine you take a bath every day and you rinse out the bath tub using only water, or you don’t wash it at all. Every time you take a bath, your dead skin cells and dirt will add to the layers of grime that are on its surface. At the end of a week, will your bath tub look and feel the same as at the beginning?

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