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What Finally Worked: Bathing Less Drastically Improved My Skin!

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#1 Luno

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 02:55 PM

Hey all,

I've lurked on these boards and conducted a fair amount of research here over the years, but I've never been compelled to post until now. I finally discovered an unlikely solution that's actually got my skin feeling healthy and nigh acne free...not bathing as frequently or washing my face! I'll explain in more detail below.

Warning: You're in for a long read. I was motivated to detail my history with acne now that I've found a method that's actually working and improving my skin--all the products/methods I've tried, and everything I've learned thus far, all in one disgustingly long post. My aim is that all those who feel like you've tried everything can compare and contrast with my experience to determine if this solution is likely to help your skin!

I need to mention that I've seen other posts about this and the most common response that tends to drown out any useful information is, "That's really gross dude." I'll address this concern later, so please read on, but know that the reality of hygiene on this "regimen" is that it doesn't have to be "gross." In fact, this ties into some speculation as to why it's working for me.

---

About me

Anyways, let's start with some useful background information so you can determine if your problems are relevantly similar to mine, and therefore whether this particular solution is likely to help you before you try it. I'm a Caucasian male with blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. I've had acne for more than a decade now (I'm 25).

It started out as typical moderate acne on my face and neck throughout high school and most of college. Over the years I've had acne cysts, acne on my chest and back, and more recently on my scalp. In the last 3 or 4 years the acne has primarily been on my jaw, neck, around my mouth, and chest (consistent with hormonal acne).

I don't think my acne could ever have been described as severe (to those folks I extend my deepest empathy/sympathy), but I've always felt completely disgusted by it; It shits all over my confidence and it's the only thing I hate about my body. It feels like some kind of disgusting invasive species on my face.

I suspect many of you are like me--I'm neurotic and a total neat-freak. I have what I would consider great hygiene, and like my parents I always keep my living space super clean. I also have a ton of food allergies, asthma, and eczema. There's increasing evidence (vague reference, I know, but you can look into it on your own) that suggests this cleanliness is at least partly responsible for the above issues...so my intuition is that excessive cleanliness is also terrible for your skin. But what is excessive? More on this later.

I'm instantly suspicious of anything that may be considered "hollistic" or "homeopathic" (AKA woo-woo), so I've tried to keep my approach rooted in scientific method. Unfortunately I did not have the foresight to try and document any of these treatments with photos (as if these various acne routines/treatments aren't obnoxious enough already). When trying new treatments I did my best to make sure to isolate the variable I was testing, but the information I've collected about what works and what doesn't is largely based on my anecdotal experience...so fair warning.

Methods/Treatments I've Tried

Salicylic Acid Acne Washes
I've been off and on with these over the counter acne washes most of my adult life. This was the first product I ever tried and over the last 10 years I've probably experimented with the entire range of treatments possible using these "oil-free acne wash" products. I've tried various durations and intensities of washing with the soap, various frequencies and times of day to apply this product, various quantities...everything! All that any of these methods every really achieved was drying my skin out (from moderately, to intensely, which was mostly related to duration of scrubbing, but to a lesser extent quantity of product). This can seem effective in the short term, as it did greatly reduce oil on the surface of my skin, but I suspect that the resulting dead skin and irritation only serves to reverse any benefit of having less sebum present.

For those who are curious, after all my trial and error, I found this product was most effective when I just mixed in a tiny tiny dab of it for <5 seconds on my face while showering, once a day. This approach reduced breakouts a bit, but it was still drying my skin slightly, and the total acne reduced by applying it was tantamount to nothing when you factor in the inverse amount of irritation.

Benzoyl Peroxide - Dan's Regimen + Spot treatment
At one point I followed Dan's regimen to the tee for two months on my face (with a substitute for his moisturizer, which I was definitely allergic to), plus various over the counter washes that contain benzoyl peroxide, and a spot treatment cream (don't remember the brand). The spot treatment thing was right out, I must have been allergic to it cause it left HUGE crusty red welts on my face everywhere I had used it that persisted for an entire week (while I was on vacation no less). Bullocks.

I will say that Dan's treatment consistently reduced the quantity of acne on my face (albeit a fairly negligible amount), but I looked even worse with my skin as irritated as it was the entire time I used the treatment. I persisted in the hopes that my skin would calm down a bit and that the acne would be reduced further, but no luck there. On top of that, the regimen was basically agony the entire time, bleached a few of my favorite sweaters/shirts on accident, and was a huge pain in the ass. I watched all his videos, and yet in the end i think this treatment lacks any real efficacy and is probably too harsh for most folks.

Using milder washes and other products that contain benzoyl peroxide pretty much yielded the same results as salicylic acid. Dry skin, no consistent change in my acne.

Antibiotics
I was once on antibiotics for strep throat that i developed after a 3-day hospital stay. I was feeling terrible the following week, was really stressed, and expected to look like absolute shit. On top of that, I suspected the antibiotics were responsible for a weird anxious side effect, plus my stomach hurt...BUT after a week, my skin was 100% clear. I remember thinking, "Woah, what happened? Is this finally the end to my acne?! Yesssss!!!" Then I remembered the antibiotics and when my acne returned in full force over the following weeks, I concluded that they were ultimately responsible for getting me clear.

I suspect treatments with a hormonal component, corticosteroids, accutane, and oral antibiotics are highly effective. I was strongly considering going to a dermatologist for antibiotics recently, but given the risks/side-effects and discouraging long-term outlook on these more intense treatments, chose to avoid it.

Lifestyle Changes
With the exception of changing my showering habits, I have conducted a multitude of experiments regarding various lifestyle changes in an attempt to cure my acne. I've been extremely disciplined about these too. I've tried avoiding all dairy for an entire summer (my younger brother is allergic to dairy and has had what I would consider perfect skin for a few years now), gluten-free diet for a month, changing my sleep schedule, exercise habits, etc. None of this really conclusively changed my acne for the better.

To make a long story short, the only thing I ever determined to improve my acne was cutting out my orange juice habit.

I should also mention that I went through several phases of avoiding all acne-products and dietary restrictions, and just trying not to worry about it. Focusing on avoiding my picking/squeezing habits, and trying to avoid touching my face at all costs. This is effective! It's not gonna' get your skin clear, but it will reduce the amount of acne and irritation on your face (though, I doubt it could reduce the severity), and you will feel, at least, slightly better about yourself. If i could impart one thing I've learned to anyone on these boards, it would be to start with this.

Stop Washing Your Face...Completely

OK, so finally on to the method that has given me consistently better skin and less acne over the last month. And it's actually still improving! I want to start by mentioning that, if you're still in your early teens/puberty, I suspect that there really isn't an effective AND safe treatment for your acne, re: hormones. Feel free to experiment with some of my suggestions regarding hygiene, but my intuition is that people 18+ with a similar history to me will truly benefit by bathing less.

Until recently I showered every single day, almost without exception. Very occasionally I'd miss a shower, and sometimes I'd have two showers in a day (if I was sick, or was doing excessive physical stuff, etc.) Let's be honest, we love showers--they feel jawesome. I've probably had this showering habit since I was 14. I think for most Americans this is pretty typical, and for all adults with acne I imagine it's a requirement. Many of us are at the very least washing our face with water once a day, maybe more. I also like my showers on the hot side which has undoubtedly been even worse for my skin.

I noticed for a long time that my acne always looked worse immediately after the shower, my skin was always a little redder and dryer, but I just assumed it was a temporary thing. Recently I had a day off where i spent all day in my PJs doing some recording stuff, and went to bed without having a shower. The next morning my skin looked remarkably better. I thought more on it, and my friend with the worst hygiene/showering habits seemed to get rid of his acne the fastest after puberty. In fact, everything about showering less made sense to me from a biological/evolutionary standpoint, and I decided to try to experiment with reducing the frequency of my showers to improve my skin.

Lo and behold, several weeks later, I'm clearer than I have been in years! Currently, I shower every other day, but when I do shower, I pull my hair back to shampoo and am careful to avoid getting any water, shampoo, or shampoo run-off on my face or chest. I'm also trying to get in and out as quickly as possible, and to have the water be lukewarm. This is all based on intuition, I haven't tested any of these things to see if they make a difference because this method is working so well for me. Once my body adjusts further I'm planning to try going down to once every 3 days to see if there's even more improvement.

At first my hair looked kinda crappy on the days I wasn't showering, but as bathing very infrequently is sort of the natural state of things for you skin and hair, it slowly adjusts. It's really not gross at all provided you don't sweat much and are wearing fresh clean clothes and deodorant each day. In fact, I haven't had a problem with BO at all, the main thing is your hair getting used to not being shampoo'd every day...it looks dirty during the interim where it adjusts.

In many other developed nations (mostly EU) showering happens once every 2-3 days or less and it's really not that bad. Fortunately for me, I don't really sweat all that much, but the summer's coming soon so it might become a concern. My intuition is that, if your face gets extra sweaty from activity, washing it gently with water very quickly and drying gently will be more beneficial than not washing, but thus far I've been avoiding washing my face at all.

I should also note that prior to trying this, and during, I haven't been using any acne products or medications, but I had been squeezing/scratching my acne...only when there was a very visible head to the pustule, or it was really sore and felt like I needed to squeeze out the contents to alleviate the pressure (sorry, mega gross description there). I haven't had any new acne since trying this, It's just existing stuff that's still healing, so I haven't really had a problem with these habits.

I should also note that I'm down to shaving once every 3-4 days now, and very gently when I do so. I can't speak to this, but if you wear makeup, my suspicion is it would be a very very good idea to stop using concealer! I dunno, to me when people use extra make up to cover up their acne, it looks bad. What you're trying to do is instantly transparent to everyone, guy or girl, and often looks worse than the actual acne...but yeah, my preference is no make-up at all, regardless of acne, so I'm a bit biased I suppose.

Finally, some speculation on why this is effective
Well I hope you've enjoyed reading about my experiences, and hope you were able to learn something that might help you with your skin. I encourage others to attempt similar tests and see what sort of results you get.

I'm tempted to attribute my success to letting my skin regulate itself a bit more. One thing Dan had right is to avoid irritation at all costs...primarily because I think most irritation/dry skin results in more dead skin on your face. The current learning is that acne occurs when your pores are clogged with sebum and dead skin cells, resulting in bacteria growth. If anything in that equation of dead skin cells, sebum (oil), and bacteria on your face is off, you're going to have more acne issues. I think for younger folks, sebum is just going to be in excess because of your hormones, but as you get a little older, the day to day irritation of showering and washing your face resulting in more dead skin cells takes over as the primary cause of your acne.

Best,
Luno

#2 DaftFrost

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:47 PM

I completely agree! We whould just stop washing our faces, there are people with clear skin who showers once aweek. or wash their face once aday.

I stopped washing my face so often, it helped... ALOT! I just wash it in the morning and thats it.
For those newbies out there, bacteria really doesn't cause acne. bacterias don't clog your pores.

Just change your lifestyle and acct like someone who has a clear skin that means stop using over the counter products, and just let your skin be natural.

#3 Thehoper

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:23 PM

Wow oh wow, low and be hold as I just finish a post about stop washing your face another success story pops up. Glad you had success bro. I wash my face once a week with aztec clay mask/acv/RO water. don't wash my face anymore then that except for after I shave I gently go over my face with RO water. I use an electric razor, from your post it sounds like your still using blades, throw that shit out dude, everyone with acne or sensitive skin should have electric razors, trimmers and what not, I actually don't mind shaving anymore and it takes less then 5 minutes, no shaving cream or any bull shit needed, just lightly go over beard with electric razor and then RO water after.

Taking cold showers also works wonders for bacne. It will also circulate your blood which a lot of people with acne and skin problems have bad blood circulation, which is why some say when they drink their skin looks better for the time being, that's because the alcohol moving around your blood evening your complexion and allowing your skin to cleanse toxins, breaking down the build ups. I buy organic soap made out of all oils, coconut oil, hemp oil, bunch others you can find them in every health store, thats what I wash my body with. I wash my hair with nothing but water as well, my hair is 10x better then it ever was when using products.

Edited by Thehoper, 01 March 2012 - 10:29 PM.


#4 SamIman

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 01:38 AM

i bet if we washed in clean water then it wouldn't make a difference. now days they put fluoride and chlorine in the water, it might be irritating our skin.

#5 Luno

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:15 AM

Yeah, I also considered the possibility that my current city's water is really crappy for my skin too. At least, my skin had been noticeably worse when I moved here...not sure if the water was to blame though.

Since reducing my bathing frequency three weeks ago, I've noticed only ONE new pimple! Most of the existing red marks on my face are finally healing (whereas before they'd be replaced with fresh pimples). Furthermore, I've noticed that I'm less prone to scratch or pick at my skin because it isn't itchy or irritated.

I don't expect many people to get 100% clear using similar methods, but certainly great results for me thus far.

#6 mcc0y

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:57 AM

I think I need to give this a go. My situation is similar to the OP. At 23, I have had acne situating primarily around the jaw and mouth region for 6 years now.

Every time I have a shower I get very dry skin around my mouth. I also ashamedly have 2-3 showers a day on average. I live a very physical life so it's hard not to. If I cut it down to once a day before I go to bed, with lukewarm water instead of hot and much shorter periods in the shower(instead of 5+ minutes) hopefully I'll see some good results!!

#7 dizzyabby

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 04:27 PM

Yeah, I also considered the possibility that my current city's water is really crappy for my skin too. At least, my skin had been noticeably worse when I moved here...not sure if the water was to blame though.

Since reducing my bathing frequency three weeks ago, I've noticed only ONE new pimple! Most of the existing red marks on my face are finally healing (whereas before they'd be replaced with fresh pimples). Furthermore, I've noticed that I'm less prone to scratch or pick at my skin because it isn't itchy or irritated.

I don't expect many people to get 100% clear using similar methods, but certainly great results for me thus far.

 

Hey there, was just curious if this is still working for you??

 

Abby x



#8 Luno

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 06:17 PM

Yeah, I also considered the possibility that my current city's water is really crappy for my skin too. At least, my skin had been noticeably worse when I moved here...not sure if the water was to blame though.

Since reducing my bathing frequency three weeks ago, I've noticed only ONE new pimple! Most of the existing red marks on my face are finally healing (whereas before they'd be replaced with fresh pimples). Furthermore, I've noticed that I'm less prone to scratch or pick at my skin because it isn't itchy or irritated.

I don't expect many people to get 100% clear using similar methods, but certainly great results for me thus far.

 

Hey there, was just curious if this is still working for you??

 

Abby x

 

I stuck with it for 6 months or so, and it definetly helped. I never got 100% clear, but it was a pretty decent improvement compard with other methods I've tried. I've since returned to using a low sulphate shampoo every other day or so. I've noticed a return in scalp acne, but no one can see it so it's not as big a deal. In the shower I still avoid washing my face.

I've also since visited a dermatologist and had great success with Clindamycin gel. It's very light weight, and for me caused some mild itching, but I've been using it sparingly as a spot treatment and it got my back and chest clear. I only have a few small pimples now and some remaining red marks...plus one very stubborn acne cyst below my lip that is still healing...dunno how long it'll take for those to go away but I hate it eusa_wall.gif

 



#9 dizzyabby

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 06:43 PM

 

Yeah, I also considered the possibility that my current city's water is really crappy for my skin too. At least, my skin had been noticeably worse when I moved here...not sure if the water was to blame though.

Since reducing my bathing frequency three weeks ago, I've noticed only ONE new pimple! Most of the existing red marks on my face are finally healing (whereas before they'd be replaced with fresh pimples). Furthermore, I've noticed that I'm less prone to scratch or pick at my skin because it isn't itchy or irritated.

I don't expect many people to get 100% clear using similar methods, but certainly great results for me thus far.

 

Hey there, was just curious if this is still working for you??

 

Abby x

 

I stuck with it for 6 months or so, and it definetly helped. I never got 100% clear, but it was a pretty decent improvement compard with other methods I've tried. I've since returned to using a low sulphate shampoo every other day or so. I've noticed a return in scalp acne, but no one can see it so it's not as big a deal. In the shower I still avoid washing my face.

I've also since visited a dermatologist and had great success with Clindamycin gel. It's very light weight, and for me caused some mild itching, but I've been using it sparingly as a spot treatment and it got my back and chest clear. I only have a few small pimples now and some remaining red marks...plus one very stubborn acne cyst below my lip that is still healing...dunno how long it'll take for those to go away but I hate it eusa_wall.gif

 

 

Ah yeah,  iv used clindamycin gel before that also had 2.5% benzoyl in it (duac), and i found it really effective for a while, and then sadly it stopped worked for me :-

 

I definitely notice my face is far less irritated and red when i don't wash it so much.



#10 onefatalgoose

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 09:44 PM

Great post Luno

 

This is what i have firmly believed and religiously followed for a few years now.  We shower way too much as a society, and in chlorinated/fluoridated/contaminated/hot water.  And for people prone to acne, this is disastrous.  

 

I totally agree about the makeup as well, as in, girls...don't wear it unless it's 100% organic.  And there's actually many makeups i've seen that use herbs as their main concealment ingredients

 

The reason people end up smelling is largely because of the shit food they are eating, not because of poor hygiene.  Obviously it's going to catch up to you if you're working out and sweating alot, and/or living in dirty environments.  Which is why occasional showering is necessary.  But in luke warm water and extremely fast.  

 

Not sure what your diet is like Luno, but doing this on top of eating organic nutrient dense foods (as well as eliminating certain others) has completely killed any acne for me.  And it's been like this since i switched my hygiene habits/eating habits two-three years back


Edited by onefatalgoose, 06 May 2013 - 10:34 PM.


#11 russc56

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 08:17 AM

I am very glad others are seeing the benefits in this method as well! I DO believe that a healthy lifestyle (proper nutrition and exercise) is beneficial to the skin and essential for proper organ function (our skin is an organ as well)! That being said, diet alone likely can not eliminate someone's acne when their skin is being abused by harsh chemicals on a daily basis. As a healthy, fit, female collegiate athlete, I can attest to the fact that my skin has never been better since I quit washing!! I shower every 2-3 days using baking soda/ACV as my shampoo/conditioner, and rinse off with just water in between. I rinse my face with lukewarm water once a day (at night), let it air dry, then rub a drop of jojoba oil on my blackhead-prone areas. My acne has always been very mild, but I can now say that I don't have a single inflamed acne, and the jojoba is clearing out my blackheads consistently. I have been on the caveman regimen for a month, and added in the jojoba oil during the 5th week. Going on 2 months, and still clear as can be!