Whilst I’ve recommended quite a few great (low pH, non-stripping and hydrating) cleansers in my previous posts, today I’ll talk about cleansing WITHOUT a facial cleanser.
Facial cleanser has been a big part of my skincare journey ever since I was very young. Thinking back, it’s probably the root cause of my teenage acne which I had to combat for over 10 years. Like many of you, I’ve actually never thought of not using a facial cleanser until recently.
In recent years, I’ve been quite careful with the cleanser I use, making sure that I stay away from cleansers that are drying and would disturb my natural oil/water balance. This has made a huge difference in my skin’s condition. My skin is much more balanced and I no longer produce a tonne of oil. In fact, I would categorise myself as normal skin rather than oily skin. It is a lot more stable and resilient. My acne is almost gone. All these, I would attribute to the power of the skin barrier.
I’ve talked about the concept of skin barrier previously (here and here). Whilst there are many factors contributing to a healthy skin barrier, cleansing is probably the most disturbing action to the skin barrier. Through cleansing, you remove the dead skin cells and natural oil on the skin which forms the skin barrier. If not done correctly, over time, you could easily damage the skin barrier, causing it to lose the ability to regulate and protect the skin.
This is where cleansing with water only could actually help to repair the skin barrier. By cleansing with water only, you’re less likely to over-strip the skin’s natural oil and therefore reduce the risk of damaging your skin barrier.
Cleansing your face with water only not only reduces the oil-stripping action but also the physical rubbing action, which would reduce irritation to the skin.
Benefits of Washing Face with Water Only
- Quick, saving time and water
- No cleanser needed, reducing cost and environmental impacts
- Reduced risk of stripping the skin’s natural oil thereby protects the skin barrier
- Reduce rubbing, thereby reducing irritation to the skin
- Safe, water is unlikely to react with your skin
However, the flip side is, you’re likely to see a build-up of dead skin cells and grease if you don’t use a cleanser for some time. This could lead to dehydration of the skin’s inner layers as oxygen and water are blocked by the thick dead skin layer. As a result, your skin may produce more oil and pores become clogged.
So you want to find the balance that works for your skin. For me, I usually do a good double cleanse at nighttime, so when I wake up in the morning, there are not many impurities on my skin and I can wash the face with water only. I also found that my skin doesn’t work well with just water at night. If I don’t use a cleanser at night, I’m likely to develop pimples pretty quickly.
Steps to Wash Face with Water Only
- Carry out a good double cleanse the night before
- Wash your face with water only in the morning
- Use lukewarm water, which will melt the sebum better
- Use a microfibre cloth to gently wipe. This will help speed up the washing process and reduce rubbing and irritation to the skin.
- Monitor the skin’s condition. Check if your pores are clogged and adjust the frequency as needed.
The routine of washing my face with water only in the morning and a thorough double cleanse at night has been working very well for me. I believe most people would benefit from skipping their cleanser a couple of times a week, especially if you’re working from home and haven’t been wearing makeup or sunscreen. Give it a try and see how you go!