What I Learned From Going a Week Without Any Skincare

Sometimes in order to solve a skin problem, I use a product to “fix” it, and often end up with an even bigger problem, which I then add another product to treat. This cycle can go on and on until I get to the point of not knowing what issues are related to my skin not reacting well to a product and what problems are actually being caused by things going on in my body and environment.

 I’ve struggled with skin issues (mostly acne) for many years now, and I have tried endless amounts of products to get rid of it, from weird at home “remedies” all the way to overpriced creams and treatments. Some things kind of worked for me but for the most part I just ended up with little to no long-term relief; a lot of the time it was actually the opposite of that. Along the way I’ve learned to really simplify my skincare and ditch the “I have acne so I must only use products that say they are good for acne prone skin” mindset and instead try to focus much more on product formulation, as well as using gentle products and fewer of them. That being said, I still seem to react badly to most products I try, and I have a habit of not allowing my skin time to heal before moving on to the next thing. I have a sneaking suspicion the reason my skin seems to react so much is partially because of a damaged skin barrier and partially due to internal factors, and although I’ve been using gentler products for a while now,  skin takes time to bounce back after being continuously stripped and damaged for years on end. 

I thought for this post I’d do a bit of an experiment to see what my skin is really like when I take away all the potentially irritating ingredients for a week. I’m also curious to see how my skin will react to each product as I add them back in, which will (hopefully) allow me to pinpoint where I might be going wrong and where I need to make some improvements! 

What my skin felt like before:

Besides the usual acne, my skin has been quite dehydrated for awhile now. I know some of the dehydration can probably be contributed to winter: the air being dry, plus the heater being on can really suck the moisture out of my skin, but I do think part of the dehydration might be due to the products I’m using as well, or not using enough hydrating ingredients. 

What I am doing: 

– Changing my pillow cases every two or three days (some people say it’s best to change your pillow case at least every other night, but every couple of nights is more realistic for me) 

– Keeping my hair out of my face

– Wearing a hat when being outside 

– Splashing my face with water after working out 

What I noticed:

Day 1. I normally don’t do anything to my skin in the morning, other than apply sunscreen, and I somewhat shamefully admit that I’ve been a bit lenient on my sunscreen application lately (I know, I know.. not good) because again, my skin seems to react badly to everything! So today I haven’t noticed much difference in my skin other than a tiny bit of oiliness in my t-zone. I was home all day today so I wasn’t out and about accumulating dirt and grime from the world, but still– going to bed without washing my face feels a bit weird. 

Day 2. My skin feels a bit more oily than usual. I don’t notice any difference in acne or redness that I have. 

Day 3. I still have some extra oiliness today and I also notice a couple of small new breakouts around the sides of my face, where I normally touch my face throughout the day. I’ve definitely become more aware of how much I actually touch my face which I know can breed bacteria on the skin, especially if you’re already prone to acne.

Day 4. I splashed my face with water last night after working out and I expected to feel a bit dehydrated after that, but to my surprise my skin didn’t feel dehydrated at all. I am less oily today and the breakouts around the side of my face are clearing up a bit. I also notice some redness in my skin subsiding. 

Day 5. My skin isn’t feeling oily anymore, and my breakout is even better today. I also don’t feel like my skin is as dehydrated as it was before starting this 7 day “challenge”. 

Day 6. My skin is feeling good today. No excess oiliness or irritation. My breakouts are almost clear and my skin still isn’t feeling too dehydrated. 

Day 7. I haven’t noticed any difference in my skin today. It still feels less dehydrated than before and my breakouts have not gotten any better or worse. 

What I got from it:

I want to give a quick mention that I did this challenge a few months ago and I am very happy I did it! It gave me a lot of very useful insight into my skin health, and I noticed immediately what I had been suspecting was going wrong in my routine and reflecting back on this post now just proves it even further. I knew before doing this that I was under-moisturizing my skin (due to my reactivity), I just didn’t realize how much difference it was actually making. Once I started slowly adding in a very basic moisturizer, (this one) I pretty quickly noticed a great change in my skin. Less irritation and redness, as well as overall less dehydrated feel to my skin. Another thing I’ve changed is my second cleanser (this one). I talk about double cleansing in my “starting a basic skincare routine” post, and while I still like the cleanser I was using, I think it is nice to switch it up every now and then.

If anyone is questioning their skin health or routine, it is most definitely worth going a few days without using anything to get more in tune with your skin. Although it seemed like an overly simple thing to do, I learned a lot from it and would do it again if I felt I needed/wanted to!

Disclaimer: The information in this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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