Suds Up

January 20, 2014

skip face cleaning for 30 days and age 10 years

By Gabrielle. Image by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

Hello from Salt Lake City! I woke up this morning in my hotel room with yesterday’s makeup still on. I wasn’t wearing much makeup yesterday, so I’m basically working with some mild raccoon eyes and a general dryness to my skin (which may also be the vastly different elevation — yesterday I was at sea level).

On most nights, I’m pretty good about cleansing my face. Nothing major, but I’ll use my Waxalene (formerly Vaseline) to take off my eye makeup, and I’ll use a cotton round and my Bioderma to wipe down the rest of my face. In the morning, I use the Clarisonic in the shower for a more thorough facial cleaning.

Last night, I skipped out because I checked into the hotel at almost 11:00 and then stayed up to do some Alt Summit work, until I simply fell asleep of exhaustion. It happens.

How about you? Do you wash your face every single night, no matter how exhausted or devil-may-care you’re feeling? It’s so easy to skip it, right? I think to myself, “I’ll do it after I read a few pages…” or “What’s the worst that can happen in eight hours when I’m not even moving around so much?”And before I know it, I’m waking up with the sun and there’s mascara on my pillowcase.

But I read that washing my face is an integral step to preventing premature aging and I was fascinated. The article mentions that skipping cleanser for 30 days ages your skin a decade – a decade! Is that for real? I’d like to say that scared me into a new face washing commitment, that it prompted me to put an alert on my phone to remind me to suds that skin I’m in every single night. But, nope. I still skip the face cleaning every now and again.

Tell me: What’s the one self-care task that seems like a chore every time you do it? It’s probably the same one that causes you the most angst when you skip it! When I don’t take the best care of myself beauty-wise (like if I forget sunscreen), I don’t usually feel much guilt. But if I don’t take care of myself in a general health-wise way — say I eat too much sugar or don’t sleep enough — I tend to self-chide. What about you?

P.S. — Speaking of lack of sleep, this week will be challenging! It’s always hard to fall asleep without Ben Blair in my bed. Last night, I slept on his side of the bed. : ) Despite the lack of sleep, I’m actually incredibly excited for this week. Have you seen the schedule and speakers for Alt Summit? It’s going to be a hugely inspiring event.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Natasa January 20, 2014 at 9:43 am

I clean my face and brush my teeth Every Single Day before bed. Too guilty if not :))


2 Sonya January 20, 2014 at 9:47 am

I wash my face and brush my teeth every night before bed, no matter the time and where I am. If by some chance I am not at home and do not have my face wash with me, then I will do it with whatever is available as well, but that isn’t often. I have not missed a night since I was 13 and I will be 33 later this year. I am crazy strict about my skincare routine because my skin was pretty blemished in high school.


3 Ling January 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

For me, sunscreen is totally part of taking care of myself health-wise! I feel less guilt about not washing my face than about not wearing sunscreen. But coincidentally: wearing sunscreen will be a big motivator for me to wash my face because it always makes me feel grimy at the end of the day.


4 Jen January 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I value wearing sunscreen over face-washing any day when it comes to preventing premature aging. But I agree, it also feels like a bit of a fly-trap for dirt too.

Gabrielle–that study is terrifying! But also kind of unbelievable. Funded by Johnson & Johnson perhaps? ;)


5 Lucy Mitchell January 20, 2014 at 10:28 am

I use the Bioderma too, in fact my skincare is now based on your/Gwyneths list. I did get Avibon and loved it, but it seems to have been discontinued. Is Moms Stuff like it?


6 Vandegee January 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

I never ever skip washing my face. But that’s mostly because of skin problems I’ve had over the years. I also wear sunscreen 365 days a year.

What I’m not good about is flossing. SO easy to find an excuse not to do it. Though there are studies about flossing and people living longer, healthier lives.


7 Giulia January 20, 2014 at 10:47 am

I do wash my face every night…but even more important is brushing teeth, morning and night. I can’t imagine not doing it…the long-term health benefits are one aspect, but I think the more obvious bad breath and/or residue make it a necessity. I once forgot my toothbrush on a trip and had to call the hotel reception at 11pm at night. Thankfully they had some spare brushes.


8 Celeste Rosenlof January 20, 2014 at 10:53 am

I fell asleep two nights in a row without washing my face and I felt so gross. It was just the cherry on top of the sundae that was last week (ate too much sugar, too much meat, only exercised twice).

I just can’t skip brushing my teeth, though. I will wake up in the middle of the night if I suddenly fell asleep hours before without doing so.

Here’s to a better week of caring for my body and mind!


9 Carole January 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

I am a grandma and I do not have a skin care routine that differs much from the care of the skin on the rest of my body, except I do not use the soap I use on my body on my face. Basically I use water only to clean my face, sometimes a mild facial bar if i have been involved in really sweaty or dusty outdoor work. I also do not wear makeup except on very rare, special occasions and then it is fairly minimal. I use the same fairly innocuous intensive care lotion on my face that I also use to moisturize my body.

I recently had a skin health analysis and the professional said she had not really seen skin in such great shape as mine for someone my age. I am by no means bragging – I just think it proves genetics, more than anything I do or do not do to my skin – because face it (no pun intended), I don’t do much – is the biggest factor in skin health.

However, I am much more concerned about what I do put on my skin. Since our skin is our biggest organ, and allows many of the substances we do put on to be absorbed directly into our blood stream. There are so many chemicals in the many products we put on our skin without ever thinking about them. I believe the next wave of “healthy living” will start looking at these things, the way we are now looking into the additives we consume in our food.


10 Chrissy January 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Your lack of interference with your skin may have more benefit than you think. I do very similar things and have been complimented on my skin all my life and now…by dermatologists as well. It isn’t genes for me…my mother and grandmothers did not age well.


11 KK January 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

Yes! I think you should wash your face everyday but there is NO WAY that not cleansing your face for a month ages your face a decade! Not a chance. And I’m proof of that! I am lazy about washing my face on a daily basis and my skin looks better than most people my age (45)–people often comment on my great skin! I believe good skin has to do with genetics and protection from the sun–both of which have worked in my favor.


12 Louise January 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

Don’t believe that not washing my skin ages it for a second! I’ve been very lazy about skin care most of my adult life and every time I get a facial I’m told what great shape my skin is in -just before they try to sell me a slew of expensive products!!!


13 Fiona January 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I wash my face, with a product, once a week, if it’s lucky. More often in the summer I guess when I do use sunscreen daily. BUT I hardly ever wear any makeup at all. So think my skin is still doing ok??


14 Tania January 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I don’t wear make-up, but I have to have a shower before going to bed, especially in the summer. I feel so dusty and clogged if I don’t wash away the deodorant and other daily build-up… and clean my feet! I’d rather skip the morning shower than go without the evening one.


15 Kate S. January 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I can honestly say I have never skipped a night of washing my face since I was 12 or so. I am now 47 and think I have pretty good skin but my mother had great skin until she passed away at 84 so I don’t know if it’s genetics or not. I have always been a beauty product junkie too so I like to try new things.


16 Cate January 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Flossing! I know it’s so important, but it definitely feels like a chore to me. One other great “green” body product is organic coconut oil. You can buy a jar for about $6 at Trader Joe’s and it’s wonderful for skin. I use it on my face everyday. I leave it on for 10-15 min in the morning to absorb then use a warm cloth to blot my face before putting on face cream with SPF & makeup.


17 Melissa January 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I don’t buy that aging thing for a second! I NEVER wash my face at night and in my late 30s I often get told how young I look. I think it’s a ploy by the people who make face-washing products to get you to buy more.

I also only use coconut oil on it as a moisturizer and it’s been amazing for how much less oily and prone to breakouts my skin is now.


18 Iren January 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm

My words are about the same like Melissa’s.
I’m over 40, my skin looks younger and I wash my face very rarely in the evening (hot, sticky summer days in town). I wash my face only in the morning with pure water and then I put a moisturizer with sun protection on. My skin type is normal to dry.
This article you mention is for me a big laugh! Moist, not too much sun and no nicotine is the best against skin aging! (Apart from the genetic stuff.) From my part, I don’t believe in this skin washing philosophy at all. Even the opposite: Ten years ago, I bought very expensive, good qualitiy, natural skin products from the cosmetic studio and I started washing my face on a regular base, with other care steps. – My skin started to suffer, became problems. I stopped.

Why all this stuff you put on your “face organ” should be better than pure water?! – This is not my cup of tea. My face can breathe the whole night, no products, no cream. And my skin looks great.


19 Melissa h. January 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm

If it makes you feel better, my mom is 63, and she looks younger than most of her friends who happen to be at least 5 years younger than her. I think sun matters much more, but that is just me. :) ….And diet. than her.


20 jovana January 20, 2014 at 4:16 pm

i stopped regularly cleansing my very dry (20-something year old) skin a couple years ago and it’s made a huge difference in how my skin feels. less taut and dry, and it doesn’t go flaky anymore. i think it’s the quality of the water – in my area the water is very hard, and even washing my hair makes the skin on my forehead itchy. i read once that cameron diaz washes her face with evian because regular water dries out her skin. i can totally relate. i use dove soap and an expensive moisturizer once or twice a week and rarely wear makeup. my skin is not prone to breakouts, so this system works for me. i think everyone’s skin is different and everyone figures it out for themselves.


21 Lisa P January 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I am 45 and have been lucky with my skin so far. My only struggle is with dry skin, especially in the winter. I use Cetaphil cleanser morning and night. It serves as my makeup remover as well. I found a serum at Whole Foods called Accure and it is fabulous. Similar to Melissa and Cate above, I have also fallen in love with organic coconut oil and buy it from Trader Joe’s as well. I use olive oil on my cuticles, sometimes on the ends of my hair and my knees and elbows. I’m with others who have posted that flossing is the step in my routine that I most dislike or sometimes skip.


22 Ruth January 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm

I’m with some of the other commenters in wondering how the research about washing your face everyday was funded, and I don’t believe it for a second.
This post has brought a lot of thoughts about how my skincare regimen has evolved. As a teenager and in my early 20′s I wouldn’t dream of skipping a day washing my face or hair. Now at 35 and with four children (ages 6 and under) I wash my hair once a week and try to wash my face once a week, usually at the same time. I use the poo-free way of washing my hair, and homemade oil cleaner for my face along with sugar to exfoliate. Then I just put oil on a cotton ball for moisturizer. I think my change in routine is because I hardly ever wear make-up anymore, and I now reach for a hat before sunscreen. For some reason having kids has made my skin more sensitive and I now struggle finding a sunscreen that doesn’t irritate it. I feel like I look pretty good for my age and I really like my current, simpler routine. I’ll try to get away with it for as long as I can.


23 Danielle D. January 20, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I rarely forget/forsake washing my face, but when I do, I usually wake in the middle of the night so guilty I wake and wash my face at 3am.


24 Jenny also January 20, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Funny how those “statistics” stick with us even when we suspect they are industry funded. Ever since reading that the sun causes 90% of facial aging I have been very devoted to my tinted moisturizer with SPF. ( is it possible to kill 3 birds with one potion?). When I really think about it gravity seems like it should be more than 10% of the equation. They’re not selling anything to combat gravity (yet) so I guess I’ll stay with my cc cream.


25 Angela January 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I don’t believe that not washing your face ages you 10 years. I don’t wear makeup, wash my face once in a while, and still get comments that I look like I’m 12 (I’m mid 30s).


26 jen January 20, 2014 at 9:46 pm

i’m 40 and it’s only been the last 5 years that i washed my face every night. i used to skip washing my face at night mostly because i rarely wore makeup. now i wear makeup almost every day so i always wash my face at night. now flossing, that’s something i’m still working on to make it my daily habit.


27 susan January 21, 2014 at 4:32 am

I keep CVS cleansing and makeup remover towelettes on my night stand. When I fall into bed I take off my make-up and cleanse my face in several swipes of my face. I follow up with Garnier Skin Renew, which I also keep in a drawer of my night stand. If I kept these 2 products anywhere else I would either forget to use them or use the excuse I was too tired to get up and cleanse:)
I know you will do a fabulous job at Alt. I can’t wait to here how everything is going and of course what you are wearing.


28 Cecilia January 21, 2014 at 7:29 am

Through your link I found two videos—one on how to wash your face, the other on how to moisturize—by Isabelle Bellis. I found them incredibly interesting as she focuses less on the product than on the technique, which includes different kinds of facial massage or “caressing,” as she calls it. I’m going to try it!


29 Kelly January 21, 2014 at 7:47 am

I have the bardest time remembering to brush my teeth before bed. Then I pay for it, when my kids come in to snuggle in the morning and complain! I have fairly dry skin, so I do not use any soap on my face, water only. I do use extra virgin coconut oil routinely on my face and body. Since starting this a year ago, I have had no acne. I have suffered from acne since 13, and it is nice to be free of it at 38. I am careful of what I eat as that affects acne, but no matter it still would occur. Coconut oil completely took that away. I use in morning and night. It is amazing, and sounds like it is too good to be true. I have also not told anyone other than my tween age daughter my secret! I was worried people would think I was a quack! It also works on fungal infections (read Yeast infections) and my son’s eczema. Nothing works on eczema, and yet it does as a “base” coat before moisturizer.


30 Katherine January 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Just water for my face both in the evening and the morning. I also use coconut oil on my face and it helps it from being too dry in the winter. Working on the flossing side – been pretty meticulous for the last 6 months and I’m loving the oil pulling (thank you for the tip on that!).


31 Rosamond January 21, 2014 at 8:39 pm

I’m another one who questions The Doctors’ conclusion. I would think it depends on what kind of makeup she was wearing, and what kind of skin care she did in the morning, too. I am in my mid 30s and almost never wash my face at night, and am still frequently carded, told how young I look (which can get annoying in professional situations), etc. I also wear very little makeup (just some light concealer around my eyes and some cream blush), and it seems to wear almost all the way off through the course of the day. Washing your face too much can lead to dryness, which can lead to redness and flaking and requiring more moisturizers and products, and it’s all a vicious cycle. I wash my face in the shower every morning, put on some SPF moisturizer and my minimal makeup, and I’m pretty much good to go until the following morning. Unless people have actual problem skin (like acne, etc., which I did when I was young, so I know how that is), I think they make it too complicated with rules and regimens and products, and sensationalizing shows like The Doctors just prey on insecurity.


32 Laura January 21, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I literally jumped up out of my chair and washed my face with my new clarisonic that I got for Christmas and only used once! For shame! Your post might’ve just changed my routine for good!


33 Susan Magnolia January 22, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I do not wear make up so I don’t wash my face at night. I wash in the shower then apply argan oil afterwards. That is it but I should be wearing sunscreeen! I never remember and I walk everywhere so it should be part of my routine. I should try to start applying to it to my daughter and I before we leave the house and not just in the summer.


34 Chrissy January 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I grew up in a very relaxed house when it came to personal grooming. My mom raises horses and was always dirty, just showered or about to get dirty. She scrubbed dirt off of her face every night…because she had to. She told me not to wash my face with anything but a wet washcloth unless it was visibly dirty because she thought it would dry out my sensitive skin. So…very laid back. I still do that, rub my face with a warm (never hot) washcloth, rinse it well with cool water, brush my teeth and off to bed. A close friend is a dermatologist and she says I look several years younger than my age and I am the only one of us she would never allow to have Botox. Lol. I would never do that anyway…I like my expressive face…but it is nice to know I look good. I am 37. For what it is worth, I also don’t wear sunscreen unless I am at the beach or out all day at a park without shade or something. The chemicals cannot be all unicorn breath and rose petals…so, no thanks. Besides…I like the vitamin D…it is good stuff. Also, my husband and I detest makeup…how it looks on my skin, how my skin feels (it is naturally very smooth and soft…my husband says it is supernatural…lol), even how it smells…so there is that. No cleansers, a little cream in the dead of winter if it starts to feel a bit dry, exfoliate a few times a week (no, not every night…I often forget or don’t care), I shower twice a week to keep from drying out my hair and skin…simple. And no, I don’t have a large health and beauty budget…HA! I don’t know if I am just lucky or if my routine has something to do with it.


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