I Tried Washing My Face With Water for a Month and Here's What Happened

I’ve never had terrible skin. In fact, I’ve managed to come out pretty well on the other side of teenage acne. I really only get flare ups during my time of the month or when I’m stressed and eating poorly. However, this past fall my face was the worst it’s ever been. I don’t have photo evidence, but I had more breakouts in three months than I had in all of my twenty one years. My skin was dry, flaky, red, splotchy and covered in zits. I was miserable.  

After reading some articles about skincare, I felt even more lost. There’s so much information out there about which products are best for your skin and which techniques will help you the most. I tried buying cleansers and treatments that friends swore by, but that only made it worse. Then, one day, I stumbled along a tweet by writer/director Jessica Ellis (@baddestmamajama) 

A couple of months ago, I ran out of face cleanser. I had to use just water for three days. My horrifically acne prone skin - including huge hormonal cystic zits - cleared up, 100%. It’s been two months with just water and I’ve had maybe 2 tiny zits. Is...skincare a lie?!!

— Jessica Ellis (@baddestmamajama) December 15, 2019


After reading about her experience I decided to try the same thing. I threw out all of the products I had been using (metaphorically of course, I still have them somewhere), bought some Cerave lotion, and started on my experiment. 

My new routine consisted of this: taking a clean, damp washcloth and gently rubbing it on my face to remove makeup and dirt. I would do this as many times as needed until I felt my face was clean enough. After doing some more research online about the effects of using water as a cleanser, most of the sources I read said that water is tough and slippery enough to take off dirt and any makeup. I'd rinse my face once more, gently dry it off, and then I’d take a generous amount of Cerave lotion and apply that to my face and neck. 

Reader, when I tell you that my face has never been clearer… I mean it. I’ve probably gotten three or four breakouts since starting this almost two months ago and those were hormonal, which is normal for me. I’ve gradually started using makeup wipes and adding a gentle toner back into my routine because I feel that it helps remove even more makeup/dirt, but besides that, I’ve pretty much stuck to the basic, simple routine inspired by Jessica Ellis. 

Is it a coincidence that after ditching all of my products my face suddenly cleared up? Maybe. Am I saying that all of the skincare industry is a lie? Definitely not. However, I do think marketing, capitalism and celebrity figures have tried to sell us on a super complex routine filled with expensive and fancy products. Sometimes the simplest things work best! But, please keep in mind, I am no skincare expert and I also have really easy to deal with skin. This article is mostly for anyone else who has pretty manageable skin but suddenly finds themselves breaking out more than normal. Just try using water and moisturizer for a few weeks and see if it helps! A balanced and nutritious diet never hurts, either. 

Let us know on Instagram if you try this hack out!