So I mentioned last week that I’m doing something called the “caveman regimen” (more of an anti-regimen, really) to clear up my skin and give it a much-needed rest. The premise is simple. You do nothing. You don’t wash your face. You don’t touch your face. You don’t wear makeup. If you want to be really hardcore, you don’t even let water touch your face. The idea is that you let your skin naturally balance it’s oil production and PH. It also replenishes the skin’s natural barrier against bacteria that aggressive cleansing can strip away.
Does it sound ookey? Yeah, it’s a little gross, but I have to admit that it works. My skin tends to be at its best when I do… nothing. There are a couple of reasons why this might be the case. I could have sensitive skin and not realize it. I could be going too far with cleansing. In any case, I usually only have to do this a couple of times a year for a few weeks– typically after I’ve gone a bit haywire with trying out different creams and cleansers and masks. I get ADHD with my skincare routine, and my skin suffers. So I take a chill pill and let things happen (mostly) naturally, and then I slowly work one product per week (or two) back into my routine.
With all this in mind, things are not pretty, particularly during the first few days of the anti-regimen. Your skin is going to be dirty, and of course you’ll have a few new and very small pimples. This is normal while your skin adjusts. They’ll usually last less than 24 hours. You also get dull and flakey skin. You might even wear a little makeup, and you really don’t want to go to bed with all that gunk on your face.
So how is a girl to “cleanse” when you’re not supposed to be cleansing?
If you’re going the full caveman route, you don’t even use water, but then you weren’t supposed to be wearing makeup to begin with. You started this path with clean skin, and nothing has touched it. If this is you, then you’ll be okay taking a soft, dry facial cleansing brush (read: NOT A CLARISONIC) or washcloth and using that to gently exfoliate away any dead, flakey skin.
Slightly Modified Caveman
Most people who go caveman still at least use water. Just as you would with true caveman, you’ll use a soft facial cleansing brush or damp washcloth and go over your face in gentle circular motions.
This is my preferred method, because I can very rarely go without doing SOMETHING. I use one of the two above methods for exfoliation when needed, but if I feel I really have to use a cleanser (and I sometimes do), I’ll go for something simple and gentle. Here are three cleansers I actually use while cavemanning it, in order of how likely I am to use them:
Simple Micellar Water
I’m a little late to this particular party. It seems everyone knew about micellar water before I did, but ever since I discovered it for myself, I’ve been a huge fan. I particularly like the wipes, but I find that buying the bottle instead is a much better value. To use it, you simply apply some to a cotton round and then wipe your face with it. It cleans AND removes makeup all with one little cotton pad (two if you’ve got heavy makeup), and you won’t even need to rinse. (And yes, it gets your face clean. I’ve put this stuff through the toner test.) All the while, it’s super gentle and won’t dry out your skin. Link
Back when I was a teen with horrible acne, this was the very first cleanser that was recommended to me by a dermatologist. I’ve kept a bottle on hand ever since, and I’ve even gotten my husband and daughter into using it. It’s a great super-gentle all-in-one that removes makeup and dirt while leaving behind a moisturizing film, it requires no rinsing, and it has only eight ingredients. Smooth it on. Wipe it off with a tissue or dry washcloth. No water needed. Link
Julep Love Your Bare Face Cleansing Oil
I’m pretty new to the “clean your face with oil” movement, too, but I love this stuff. I’ve reviewed it before, and it’s made it into my favorites. It’s my regular cleanser even when I’m not cavemanning it because even if I’m washing with a more thorough cleanser or scrub at night I still prefer something gentle in between those washes or if I need to wash my face the next morning. (Usually I skip washing in the morning and simply rinse with water, but occasionally I feel the need to wash.) Like the other two, there’s no need for a separate makeup remover. This gets everything. Work 1-2 pumps of the product onto your dry face, including your eyes. Rinse. Link