I Stopped Washing My Face For 1 Week On The ‘Caveman Regimen.’ Here’s What Happened To My Skin

by Caralynn Lippo
Caralynn is a writer, native New Yorker, TV enthusiast, and dog mom to Hobbes.

Like many women, I’ve struggled on and off with skin issues throughout my life.

I’m not quite at the point where I’m worrying about anti-aging products, but I do often wonder whether I’m prematurely damaging my skin.

Skincare is so individual and specific to a person’s needs that it’s sometimes difficult to know whether you’re doing the “right” thing for your face.

With so many products on the market, I thought that if I kept trying enough of them, one would wind up being the “miracle product” I needed for a flawless complexion.

Ridiculous, right?

I’m the type of person who loves to do research and be up on all the latest products and trends. I was researching new skincare ideas, finding familiar recommendations like the baking soda face wash and the Aztec clay mask.

But then, I came across something totally different and seemingly insane: the “Caveman Regimen,” a system that requires not washing your face at all.

I saw pages and pages of “Caveman Regimen” results and supposed “Caveman Regimen” acne cures. It seems like it worked well for some people and was absolutely disastrous for others. However, it was really simple (and also free) — so of course, I had to try it out.

Did it work for me? Scroll through to find out my experience on the “Caveman Regimen”!

What Is The "Caveman Regimen"?

caveman regimen
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

In the most basic terms, the “Caveman Regimen” is quite simply not doing this here face-washing activity. (Don’t worry, the above photo is pre-experiment!)

According to The Love Vitamin, the “Caveman Regimen” takes the idea of gentle skin care to the next level by advocating for doing essentially nothing at all to your face. It’s basically a “no outside interference” idea, going off the theory that your skin knows what to do and will sort itself out.

This blog’s write-up was the first mention of the “Caveman Regimen” that I was able to find online, but it has since been explored by many other sites, including Cosmopolitan and Refinery29.

Should You Wash Your Face Every Day?

college before pic - caveman regimen
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

There are varying ideas (even among experts) about exactly how often you should wash your face.

One dermatologist named Dr. Terrence Keaney told Business Insider that you should wash once in the morning when you wake and once at night before you go to bed.

Marie Claire spoke to several other dermatologists and came up with the advice that it depends on your skin type. Oily skin types should stick to morning and evening cleanses, while dry or sensitive skin types are better off with once daily in the evening. They all agreed that over-washing can lead to irritation and a lack of moisture, something I’ve unfortunately experienced firsthand.

Dr. Jeannette Graf told Stylecaster that everyone should wash their face twice a day, with no exceptions. In fact, she said that most people don’t wash their faces enough.

All of this is to say: It really just depends on your face and your skin, and nobody can 100% for sure say what the “best” face-washing regimen is.

"Caveman Regimen" Benefits

Caveman Regimen
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

Right off the bat, I saw one major benefit: Sleeping in.

It’s not like I had such a complex or long morning skin care regimen that required hours of prep time and work. But not having to worry about washing (or even rinsing!) my face meant my morning to-do list was one item shorter every day.

Also, skin care products cost money. Whether you are relying on drugstore generic products or fancy-schmancy department store or luxury brand items, not spending on those things is just extra money back in your pocket. (Or in my case, extra money for puppy treats.)

How To Do The "Caveman Regimen"

No face wash
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

The bare-bones version of the “Caveman Regimen” involves doing what the cavemen theoretically did: that is, not washing your face the way so many modern-day folks have grown accustomed to. So, you simply don’t wash your face, or even wet or wipe it.

The theory, per The Love Vitamin, goes:

[The] acid mantle — the sweat and sebum that we are taking great pains to keep off our skin [via washing] — is actually what protects you from bacteria invading your pores and creating acne. Problem is that for most of us, from the minute we see that first spot as an adolescent, we’ve been using some form of cleanser or topical to keep the acne at bay. Most of us have never given our skin a break since the time we were 13 years old.

That sounded fairly logical to me. The blogger (who is not a professional dermatologist) had the following advice:

Do nothing. Stop washing your face or putting anything on it. Let your natural oils and sweat build up and protect your face, and your acne will greatly decline or go away. Let your skin heal itself with absolutely no outside interference.

However, some people do variations of the regimen where they only use a splash of water, either a “rinse as needed” approach, or replacing morning/evening washes with water-only.

For the purposes of this experiment, I went strictly with the “do nothing” technique — no water, no blotting, no moisturizer, no hands on the face whatsoever. Nada.

Skin Before "Caveman Regimen"

before pic - caveman regimen
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

My skin hasn’t been bad at all recently, but I also feel like it could be better. Hence, doing this experiment.

I get a bit spotty here or there, but my primary issue is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which are dark marks and discolored spots left behind after a pimple heals.

That’s a residual problem from my years dealing with intense hormonal acne as a teenager. I don’t have acne scars, per se, just discoloration from where there used to be big zits that didn’t heal quickly or well.

HS before pic - caveman regimen
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

Throughout high school and into college, my skin was really bad. I’m talking cystic acne, dry patches, oily patches, weeks-long breakouts — the works.

My skin improved drastically after I went on Accutane (which has its own host of benefits and risks), but to this day I struggle with typical “combination skin” woes.

Also, the natural moisture level of my face was absolutely wrecked from years of over-washing and using harsh, heavy products. If I don’t put on moisturizer immediately after washing, my face gets tight and uncomfortable, almost like I’m wearing a mask.

My Experience Doing The "Caveman Regimen"
Day 1

<u>My Experience Doing The "Caveman Regimen"</u><br>Day 1
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

Here’s my big ol’ bare first-thing-in-the-morning face on day one of the “Caveman Regimen.”

I instinctively squirted a pump of my daily cleanser into my hand without even thinking about it — it was like second nature. Luckily, I stopped myself once I realized what I was doing. Down the drain that cleanser went. Oops.

It was pretty hot on this day, so I ended up getting fairly shiny. Unable to rinse my face off at the end of the day, it was a little uncomfortable, but not anything crazy.

Days 2 And 3

Days 2 And 3
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When I woke up on day two, I was super shiny on my forehead and down my nose — the dreaded T-zone. I had some vague idea that maybe my pillowcase (freshly washed just for this occasion) would provide some kind of minor mattifying effect. Not so much.

I walked around looking like a greaseball this whole day. I wasn’t into it, but nobody said anything to me.

Day three was more of the same. The condition of my face was basically identical, so I didn’t take a separate photo.

Days 4 And 5

Days 4 And 5
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When I woke up on day four, a miracle had happened: I was way less shiny!

I’m still not sure how exactly that happened, but it may have had something to do with my pillowcase swap (I changed them way more frequently during this experiment, and the second pillowcase was a different material).

I also plugged in my air purifier that night as well, so maybe that helped in some way.

In any event, days four and five weren’t quite as bad as days two and three in the oil department, but I started noticing some weird little bumps on my face…

Day 6

Day 6
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

By day six, those little bumps were far more noticeable.

I also recognized that my face started to have a weird, dingy look — it was around this time that my face actually started to appear (and feel) dirty.

Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

I got tons of teeny tiny bumps around the sides of my nose and mouth around this time. They didn’t seem to be whiteheads or pimples, and they weren’t extremely noticeable. I’m pretty sure they were milia.

According to Healthline, milia are tiny white cysts that appear on the nose and cheeks. Milia are typically caused by keratin getting trapped beneath the surface of the skin. I suspect that I had this issue because I wasn’t manually exfoliating by washing my facing or using a scrub, as I normally do.

I resisted touching my face as much as I possibly could, not just because I wasn’t “allowed” to on this regimen, but because feeling my vaguely sticky and dead-skin-covered face really grossed me out.

Day 7

Day 7
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

Day seven can best be summed up in one word: Yikes!

There was a temperature spike — just my luck, right? — and I decided to celebrate the near-end of my experiment by actually putting on makeup (just eye makeup) for the first time all week.

That backfired on me big time when my eye shadow and liner started running down my eyes and cheeks.

I looked like I’d dipped my face in butter… and then charcoal… and then more butter.

Problems I Encountered:
My Dog

<u>Problems I Encountered:</u><br>My Dog
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

I had two major issues during this experiment. The first was this sweet little fuzzball right here.

I recently got a puppy named Hobbes. He’s a Labrador/golden retriever mix, and he’s the cutest little guy ever (if I do say so myself). But he’s also super needy and affectionate.

Without fail, he paws at me every evening when I get home from work until I sit on the floor with him and let him climb all over my lap. Once he’s in my lap, he tries to give me kisses — right on the face.

Of course, not washing my face for an entire week meant I was trying to avoid external factors as much as humanly possible. So it was seven whole days of shading my puppy. I also didn’t let him sleep in bed with my fiancé and me.

Sorry, Hobbes!


Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

Washing the rest of my body while avoiding my face was also a challenge.

I briefly considered doing a no-shampoo regimen at the same time to make it easier to not wet my face while washing my hair. However, I quickly realized what a terrible idea that was.

I’ve been dying and/or highlighting my hair since high school, so it’s not in the best condition. It gets oily at the roots and dry at the ends really easily.

Not washing my hair would’ve been disastrous, and I wasn’t down to deal with two disasters at once.

"Caveman Regimen": Final Thoughts

<u>"Caveman Regimen": Final Thoughts</u>
Caralynn Lippo for LittleThings

Here’s the weird thing: Even though I ended day seven looking like somebody had slapped me in the face with a piece of greasy ham, I think that the regimen was actually useful, specifically for my hyper-pigmentation.

I am very light-skinned. My skin is also sensitive and easily reddened. I’m no dermatologist, but anecdotally, I’ve always noticed that my hyper-pigmentation looks worse immediately after I’ve washed my face too much, or too hard, or with too-hot water.

The first time I washed my face post-“Caveman Regimen,” my hyper-pigmentation was remarkably less noticeable. Now, it’s also possible that I just hadn’t adequately removed all the layers of dead skin yet and that the dead skin cells were “camouflaging” the hyper-pigmentation in a way. But I’m inclined to believe the “Caveman Regimen” had something to do with it.

It’s been several days since my experiment ended, and my PIH has moderately decreased.

Would I recommend the “Caveman Regimen” to a friend? It depends on the friend and their skin.

I have some friends with naturally flawless skin (lucky ducks!) who are basically already doing a version of this every day of their lives — they simply splash water on their faces and use a bit of moisturizer if necessary. For other friends with hormonal skin problems, I probably wouldn’t suggest it.

Would I try the “Caveman Regimen” again? I would absolutely do this again, but never permanently. If you treat the regimen as a temporary detox, it makes a lot of sense. The way you would do a diet detox to “cleanse” your body is pretty much the same as detoxing from skin products to cleanse or reboot your face. (Though again, your mileage may vary with this regimen.)

It’s not foolproof, and I doubt I would ever go quite this long not washing or rinsing my face again. I would either do this for a shorter period of time (three to four days) or do a week of water-only rinsing and spot-moisturizing.

If you plan to test out the “Caveman Regimen” yourself or think you know someone who could benefit from it, make sure to SHARE this story on Facebook!