Just to recap, I've pretty well been clear of inflamed/active acne since.. I guess 2011? At that point I'd still regularly get a few zits, and near the end of that year and into 2012 is when those periodic breakouts grew further and further apart until they no longer concerned me (a zit, maybe two, occurring maybe once a month or less). But during this time I still had issues with some flesh bumps/clogged pores, mostly on my forehead but also on my chin and a bit on my cheeks. My marks were also still quite prominent, although fading pretty well over time. I also was still dealing with some oiliness on my forehead and nostrils, a bit on my chin, but overall the oiliness was much less than when I was using products. I was also still having problems with dehydrated and flaking skin, especially on my cheeks and forehead (an issue which I'm sure exacerbated the flesh bumps and redness of my acne marks).
Now onto my progress AND an important bit of news...
I've discontinued the strict Caveman/no-wash routine, but I am still water-only. I've pretty well gone back to the type of routine I had in early 2011 (I will outline my routine below) and so far I'm happy enough with the results but I know that I still need to maintain more of my Caveman mindset with this routine in order to really get the most out of it.
Why did I stop? Ultimately it was a combination of factors: my clogs, while better than they were pre-Caveman, were still there. This bothered me mostly on my forehead and chin. I was also finding myself wanting to rub my face with my hands to remove any flakes more than I would have liked for that routine itself. And to be honest, I definitely missed the feeling of washing my face. My acne was still a non-issue but those little things resulted in an unplanned return to water-only, probably for 1-2 weeks now.
So what did I learn from all of this? I pretty well learned that I really don't need to be so hands-on or thorough with cleansing in order to maintain clear and happy skin. My skin does not retaliate if I skip a shower (which is the only time I will wash my face), and in fact it's probably good for me to take breaks sometimes. I've also learned that unfortunately my skin just seems to benefit from exfoliation, despite the fact that it can lead to irritation, redness, and flaking/dehydration - these issues, however, may be more so related to technique than to exfoliation itself. During high school I used a cleanser that exfoliated my skin, and I used it twice a day. For the most part my skin was pretty well clear with periodic outbreaks (a few zits to more of a cluster of them). I'm not sure if my skin's preference for manual exfoliation, which I never needed to use prior to using skincare products, is due to the use of said cleanser or if it is because I also have keratosis pilaris which affects a rather big portion of my body.
What is my current routine then? Like I've already mentioned, I've gone back to a water-only routine, which in reality really can just be seen as a more approachable subset of the Caveman method. When showering I maintain the no-water-on-face rule as I go about the rest of my shower duties, and just before stepping out I will take a clean face cloth, soak it, wring it out entirely and then scrub my face with it. I don't really do any particular method of scrubbing, just... scrub. I tend to go up-down or side-to-side more so than circular. I then turn off my shower and let whatever moisture is on my face air-dry. I found that the more wrung out the cloth the better for my skin.
My current skin progress:
1) My clogs are almost gone. Especially on my forehead, where I feel and see virtually no bumps. I suspect that in a few weeks any sebaceous filaments or remaining clogs there will be gone or mostly gone.
2) My skin texture and red marks have improved a fair bit. I haven't been documenting with pictures so it's hard to tellsubjectively but I definitely feel better about those two things, especially on my cheeks. My forehead still has a bit of a rough look between the brows but I think that's more to do with a few remaining clogs there that can look more visible if I get a bit oily.
3) My skin overall doesn't seem to be much oilier. I don't know if this is due to weather, how I am washing, how I am drying, or any other factor but I'm ok with the level of oiliness I am getting on my skin. I don't really feel the need to blot either unless I did not shower the day before and will not shower that day (or until later), at which point I might blot my forehead. The oil that I do get does not feel uncomfortable nor do I think it looks bad; it's fairly minimal in my opinion so I doubt it's that obvious to others, especially those my age range.
4) I have noticed some flaking again, but I think it's due to how I have used the cloth a few times - I can't always get around the idea of really WASHING my face as opposed to just quickly scrubbing with the cloth. Sometimes I will find myself scrubbing for too long and I am certain that does not bode well for my skin. It does not stay visible as time goes by.
5) In regards to inflamed spots I am still clear but there was for a short time a bit of an increase in inflammation PRIOR to using the washcloth. I'm not sure why but it's since toned down and I don't have anything new. I have a small thing clearing up on my chin and some minor areas I picked on my cheeks that are just flat and kinda red.
I do not regret doing the strict version of Caveman, and I will definitely continue updating with my Caveman-light routine. It's definitely taught me to look at my skin in a new way and as time passes I am still getting more and more comfortable with my skin. Thinking back to a picture I took of myself for last Christmas, I feel like my skin, if the image were taken in the same lighting and same camera and same variables, would look significantly improved. So I'm really glad that I went product-free pretty well 2 years ago.
Anyways, I thought I'd share some pictures too! They are phone pics but I used natural lighting and tried to get as clear an image as I could. I am a bit oily and red - I haven't showered today nor blotted and the heater is on because it's very cold here (like -15C probably? Which is not actually that cold for a Canadian but.. compared to what we had last month I am missing the warmth!) You can view them larger in my gallery as well
And as a side note to anyone who saw a previous update, my cat did in fact have to be put down earlier this month. It was quite sad, my mom cried, and I do miss him But he was clearly in pain, was not really eating much. I don't really have much else to say about that, I'm actually ok about it, I just miss him!