I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month - The Acne Experiment

What Happens When You Don't Wash Your Face For a Month | The Acne Experiment

. I've completed phase one of The Acne Experiment which means I haven't washed my face for 4 weeks. I haven't worn makeup - aside from one day when I broke down and wore red lipstick - and I haven't used anything outside of a washcloth and water on my face skin.

In summary, I've decided I'm onto a new trend: The Paleo-Face-Diet™. It's a glorious water scrub, like the cavemen used to do. I'm going to move to Malibu and open a day spa that only sells washcloths and terracotta jugs of water from local, sustainable streams. I'm going to be a millionaire.

Yeah no. Here's what really happened:

Week 0Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
  • Week 0 - For the first few days my skin decided to be a whiney teenager. I distinctly remember it telling me to "suck on some excess oil, you hag."
  • Week 0.5 - My skin understands I'm not going to cave and is regulating itself. The oil is still there, but I don't look oily anymore.
  • Week 1 - I've realized that not washing my face isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It takes me 5 minutes to get ready in the morning, and 2 minutes to get ready to go to bed. This is what it's like to be a man.
  • Week 2 - I've realized that simply not washing my face is not going to be enough to rid me of all the acne. Dammit.
  • Week 3 - I am ready for this experiment to be over. I miss my creams and salves and gels.
  • Week 4 - My face smells like the sidewalk after it rains.

I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month (Before and After) | The Acne Experiment
For some extra fun, stare at the top center of this photo, right at "The Acne Experiment" text. Let your eyes lose focus and my two faces will start looking like Mr. Bean.


I never thought not washing my face was going to completely clear my acne, even if I secretly hoped it would. This month was meant to provide me with a control group. The slight improvement was gravy. In general though, my skin is neither better nor worse, which means either: a) the stuff I was using isn't doing anything -or- b) anything it is doing is counteracted by the irritation it's causing. I do, however, notice less redness on my chin which I attribute to the products I wasn't putting on it. Less irritation = less chin mess, apparently.

I surmise that most of my chin redness is Perioral Dermatitis related.

Aside from the changes I saw in my skin, this month was a learning experience. I now have a real, tangible confirmation that I was washing my face too much. Multiple washings and/or using harsh cleansers will strip the face of oil. The skin will then produce even more oil to compensate. Also, not being able to use any products drastically reduced my urge to touch my face. I knew that I couldn't treat my skin with anything, and I knew I wouldn't be able to cover up any mess I made with makeup. 

Lastly, I am proud to say that I know what it's like to be a man now. This whole "Acne Experiment" thing started because my husband suggested that I stop using all products on my face to see what happens. Like many men, he almost never uses cleanser on his face, and of course he gets maybe one zit a year. So, scratch that, I know what it's like to be a man who has acne.

Next Steps:

The Acne Experiment - Phase 2 is where I test out various products to see what agrees with my skin and what doesn't. If you didn't read the "Zit Creams in Review" post, you missed the part where I reviewed all the products I've tried in the past. I'm not going to paraphrase here because I refuse to do your homework for you. Shame on you. (Shame on me. You can read it here.)

I plan to spend approximately one week on each product, but it depends on how my skin reacts to everything; I may have to spend more or less time on certain products. I'll post a review of everything I try.

ALL Acne Experiment Posts, Guides, & FAQs are in The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB

I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month | The Acne Experiment


  1. Hey I really like your story!
    I have suffered from acne for awhile and have spent so much money on treatments.
    If your trying New things, I suggest trying living clay as a mask. I did it every day for 2 weeks and now I do it like once a week.
    SERIOUSLY got rid of my acne. I have small break outs now and then but never those deep ones.
    Everyone's different but it worked for me And I know the feeling of frustration acne causes.

    Anyways if you try it I hope this helped!!!

    1. I realize I'm replying a good month after you wrote this, but is "Living Clay" different from plain ole bentonite? I really liked Aztec Healing Clay (I have a link to my review of it above); it's 100% bentonite, super cheap, and I absolutely love it.

  2. Your blog is really the only one I read and laugh at. You're an excellent writer and guinea pig and I very much appreciate your suffering for the good of many. Your skin and coloring as well as skin texture is similar to mine.

  3. Im wearing a mask right now and just reading your introduction cracks me up! My mask is ruined. Haha but that's ok. I love your blog anyways :P

  4. This oil, once a day (usually at night), and only washing once with a mild bar of soap is MAGIC! It is inexpensive, simple and my skin has cleared unbelievably. I also only use a lightweight BB cream to sunscreen/cover small blemishes.

  5. one of the superb blog i have ever read!!!! love it!!!

  6. Replies
    1. Kind-of, but not really (a nice noncommittal answer, right?). I discuss it on my jojoba oil review: http://www.crappycandle.com/2014/12/jojoba-oil-review-acne-experiment.html

  7. I use Mary Kay. I love the product. Doesn't remove all oils off the skin. Creates a good balance. My skin always feels amazing after I use it. I had been suffering with acne forever!!! But using MK for the last 2 years has really helped. :)

  8. You are awesome. I really admire your guts. well, my granddaughter struggles with acne but its tiny dots everywhere. I bought her two things and you may be interested in them. Also, its bad to overdo the cleaning. Some background on the one first. At Sally Beauty Supply I was given a sample I thought was for my face so I put it on every night. The print on the sample was so small an ant couldn't read it if ants could read. So I took a pic of it and enlarged it and discovered it was a 12 in 1 Daily treatment for scalp and hair. Well, its amazing for face. Use it every night.Been using for 3 years now. It's One'N Only Argan Oil.
    Second for day use, Ahava for your skin type daily moisturizer. Good luck.


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