How to Clean Your Face Without Washing It

Since the big reveals a few weeks ago—when Siobhan and I told you our play-by-play morning routines—some of you have asked me to describe how it is that I go about cleaning my face without water.

Much like not washing my hair, not washing my face is just where things kind of went for me on this path. I’m not particularly evangelical about it, cause, well, it’s not for everyone. People wash their faces for all kinds of reasons; it can be refreshing, change a mood, get the city grime off…

But for me, between the clean makeup I wear, the dry climate I live in, the untrustworthy water in my tap, the onset of my thirties—and because I’m admittedly lazy before bed but toothbrushing is non-negotiable—face washing just began to fall by the wayside most evenings.

I’ve tried a lot of things I like, though: washing with raw honey (lovely), gentle creamy cleansers, oils and warm washcloths. Sometimes I go back to these methods, all of which are pretty great, and none of which are overly drying.

But most days I’ve simplified even further: I use these Organic Cotton Face Rounds by Better For Grownups, which is part of this Better for Babies brand. Someone sent us a box of these rounds to try out, and they have changed my life.

To clean my face, I take one of these pads (from the standup reusable container that lives on my sink) and put a little oil on there—basically whatever’s around, be it argan, coconut, the neroli I’ve been using lately—and then I wipe my face down with it. If I feel like I didn’t get everything off, I repeat with the other side.

Now, sometimes the buck stops there, since this routine leaves me both cleansed and oiled up for bed (I only do this before bed). Other times I’ll go the extra mile and spray with one of my lovely toning mists, maybe add a tad more oil or a favorite moisturizer. I then rinse the pad with some soap and water and put it in the little laundry bag that came with the rounds, and which hangs from my bathroom window hook. I love the laundry bag! Once that fills up, you throw the bag in the washer and dryer and then refill the stand. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I can’t wait.

So that’s the whole shebang! I definitely feel like I get off any makeup and grime, while keeping that whole top layer of skin happy and hydrated. I don’t breakout or get greasy from this process, if anything it seems to help balance my skin. I obviously wet my face when I shower and sometimes give it a splash for fun, but most days just don’t involve a whole lot of washing for this gal.

How do you clean your face?

Image via

39 Responses to “How to Clean Your Face Without Washing It”
  1. Aleigh says:

    I am a lazy face-washer, too, and I am definitely coveting these little cotton goodies now!

  2. Marci says:

    Well, I only recently stopped washing my face in the morning and just rinse with warm water and apply an oil and moisturizer and my face love it! I still wash at night to remove makeup and city grime and use the Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser along with my Clarisonic Mia brush (I use a makeup wipe to remove most of the makeup before using the cleanser). I then use one an oil (Pangea/Tata Harper/or Argan Oil) and apply a moisturizer. I am currently testing out Tammy Fender Neroli and Orange moisturizer which I kinda like so far (it has only been 2 days). My skin has been doing immensely better since switching to clean skincare products, I just wish they did not cost so much! But I have taken advantage of your Friday deals, please keep them coming!!!

  3. Aileen says:

    I do wash my face because it relaxes me and I love the clean feeling, but I use creamy cleansers (like Pai!) that don’t dry out my skin. I would also like to re-iterate a love for those face rounds. They are soft, double-sided, and I love that I am not contributing to a landfill by throwing out cotton balls every day (small, but still). I put oil on them to remove makeup at night (mostly eye makeup, but lately I’ve been using it over my entire face), but I still wash my face afterwards.

  4. Katie says:


    What brand of makeup wipes are you using.
    I love makeup wipes but have had a hard time of finding a clean brand to use.


  5. nancy says:

    You might call you lazy but that would be only by industry standards.. the same industry that wants you to use a ton of must-put-on-your-face or else…
    My routine is different from morning to night..AM : manuka honey on a dry face, few minutes before gently removing with a warm wet washcloth(that I might substitute by these rounds) . PM : slightly wet my face, apply either Kahina Cleanser or Tata Harper Regenerating cleanser, massage it a little &remove it all with a warm washcloth.

  6. Caralien says:

    I don’t wash my face at night–just add a few drops if argan-patchouli-lavender-blue chamomile oil (summer), or that plus a balm or thicker oil or butter (coconut, Shea, cocoa) during the winter.

    Do the cotton rounds smell in their laundry bag? Or do they dry in the bag while waiting to be laundered? It’s been a hot & damp summer, and my fear is that there would be a moldy smell.

  7. nancy says:

    in time… I meant * yourself *:(.. on an unrelated topic..if anyone is looking for 100% Pure ,Hautelook is having a sale on the brand and prices are tempting..

  8. Andreina says:

    My deal is a bit similar than yours, Alex.
    I use vegetable sponges, which I re-use until they look like, well, they’re done.
    I wet it with water and then apply oil. I go ahead and remoce my makeup with it, and once I’m done using the side where I put the oil, I flip to get an even clean skin. I do not hidrate after this, as I often feel tgat the oil residue on my skin can be just the trick. Like you, I’ve learned and experienced that less really is more!

  9. Alyssa says:

    nice! i just started stopping (ha) washing my face in the morning. most mornings i just use dr. alkaitis herbal toner on a cotton ball and swipe it over my face, then apply moisturizer and makeup. i find that my face often looks really good when i first get out of bed, but gets red and splotchy after i wash it. using the toner prevents that and keeps the dewy glow without my face feeling all icky or over-moisturized from the night before. yay!

  10. jess says:

    Ooh I am so excited about these reusable face rounds! I’ve been using oil and a square of toilet paper to remove eye makeup at the end of the day and even though I only use one square for both eyes, I still hate the waste. A washcloth never really works the same way for me. Thanks for bringing these into my life!

  11. connie curtis says:

    I dont wash my face. I dont wear makeup since i work at home. I wear clean and little of that when I do wear makeup. I might try the rounds to put oil on. I found that wash clothes are rough on the face but have thought about buying a Muslim wash cloth to use to exfoliate my face. I use oil more in the winter. I use vegetable glycerin in the summer to balance it out since my face seems to go in my face better. any thing that someone has used to help their hair seem thicker that is clean?


  12. Beka says:

    For those that use oil to remove their makeup, do you use the oil for your eyes/mascara as well? If so, how do you remove all the mascara without getting the oil IN your eyes? I’m really interested in trying the whole oil washing thing, but I am afraid of getting a bunch of oil in my eyes and not being able to see for a while.

  13. Alexandra says:

    @Beka re mascara: It’s a bit hard to explain but I just wipe over my eye with my eye shut and then under my eye to remove the makeup that spread there… Not sure that translates, and I definitely got a little oil in my eye at first–but no longer!

  14. EMs says:

    ‘Scuse my laziness and threadjack, but I’m just wondering if anyone out there has looked into the cleanliness of Eminence? It seems to be taking over the spa market, and has the advantage of being Hungarian? Or at least European, and thus more highly regulated. YES I should absolutely go ingredient by ingredient, but wondering if anyone has done that already! It’s not on EWG.

  15. Marci says:


    I am currently using baby wipes as a makeup wipe (not so clean) until I can find a clean brand that I like. I am a work in progress! I welcome any suggestions.

  16. Beka says:

    @Alexandra, So do you get all the mascara off, or just the mascara that smudges to your skin? I think I have an idea of what you are saying, though. Thanks!

  17. S. Elder says:

    I just have to wash…just don’t feel clean otherwise. I use to use the make up wipes but now have switched to coconut oil… I think it does the job… even with mascara.

  18. Rebecca says:

    Kahina Cleanser removes any dirt and make-up. Sometimes I use Wee Bee honey as mask/wash – best honey I’ve ever tried for skin or eating. Argan oil follows, at night I add a couple drops of Pai Bioregenerate to the argan.

  19. Alyssa says:

    @EM – I have done some reading about Eminence and they seem to be on the track, although I’m not educated enough to really look into how clean they are. I have, however, used their products for the most part for the past eight years or so, and they did great things for my skin, especially in helping clear up my acne. My mom used their products during chemo and radiation and her skin didn’t get crepe-y or wrinkly, so I’d say they are pretty solid products!

  20. So funny to hear you raving about the Better for Grownups face rounds. When I was in beauty school, I became pretty addicted to washing my face with the totally-not-green cotton rounds (we called them “burgers” because they were shaped like handburgers) that we went through by the dozen every hour there. (You buy big rolls of cotton, rip up sections, soak them and shape them into a burger shape, then use 6-8 every time you give a facial.)

    BUT I was not excited about all the waste — we went through a roll of cotton per night, easy. I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, who is a prolific knitter — and she knit (or technically, it might have been crochet) me a set of reusable cotton yarn rounds, which I keep on a little tray on my bathroom counter and use to wash my face. They are the cutest! And so awesome.

    I have five, so the set gets me through the week (and then I tend to slack on face-washing over the weekend while I do my laundry), but one thing that has stumped me is what to do with the wet cotton round after I’m done face washing…they tend to get draped over the edge of the sink and start to look um, sorta gross as they pile up. A little laundry bag that can hang on a hook in my bathroom = genius solution. I am off to do this immediately.

  21. Naomi says:

    I use the Kahina cleanser but have been using Kaia bamboo cleansing wipes to remove my mascara. I tried coconut oil before to remove eye make up but found it left me with an oily film actually in my eyes so gave up on that pretty quickly. I think I’ll try just the Kahina cleanser to remove make up, thanks to Rebecca’s post.

  22. Moksha says:

    How does the whole ‘not washing regimen’ apply to people who are very acne prone?

  23. We know what we use;) Our Regenerating cleanser is fab and our Refreshing Cleanser is great for sensitive skin or as a make-up remover. Love this post Alexandra- you’re hilarious!

  24. Andrea says:

    Love this site!!
    Moksha: How does the whole ‘not washing regimen’ apply to people who are very acne prone?
    I was thinking that too. Actually I can’t EVER go without washing my face. Sometimes in the summer I have to wash it twice a day, when it’s really hot/humid. Twice a week it gets scrubbed and washed. I love Derma e products. :)

  25. cecelia says:

    I use Jane Iredale pink mitt cleansing cloth and water. Takes off every bit of make-up; it’s fabulous. No cleansing creams needed!

  26. Jaime says:

    @Andrea- I have oily/acne prone skin with roseaca and ezcema and just recently stopped washing my face as much and it has done wonders for my skin! I have tried everything from going to a dermatologist and being on meds ,proactive, etc. I think I was using too many products and being too harsh and messing up my skin’s natural balance. So now I just use natural products and for my face I do the “yes to blueberries” line facial wipes/makeup remover in the morning (figured my face doesnt get as dirty while I sleep) and then at night, I just rinse my face a little lukewarm water with no face wash and/or a super gentle cleanser and I am sure to not scrub or anything, have to be super gentle! and then I put on an Aubrey Organics moistruzier and that’s it. So far that has made a huge difference, my skin doesnt feel so inflammed.

  27. I wash my face with Naki Nagi Milk and Honey Sugar Scrub, or Chocolate Cinnamon Sugar Scrub. Each of these scrubs nourishes and deep-cleans your face, while providing just the right of moisture. Naki Nagi Scrubs are handmade to order in NYC at

  28. Denise says:

    To those trying to find clean wipes, would you consider making your own ? Same concept as making your own baby wipes, Glycerin to distilled water ratio, 1 to 3, pure aloe vera gel. We get these thick disposable industrial cleansing towels I cut up but a coworker uses generic swiffer type dusting clothes cut in half. Make up about a weeks work and store in the fridge since no preservatives are being used and water is. If you decide to use oils etc, with no water, this is not needed

  29. zizihua says:

    @Alexandra – I have been cleaning my face at night with coconut oil and trying not to wash my face in the morning but my dilemma is that I like to work out in the morning before work. What do you do in that sort of situation? I am acne-prone so I am paranoid about dirt clogging up my pores. Also, I use the Evan Healy green tea clay mask as spot treatment at night. When you use this, how do you wash it off in the morning? I don’t want to wash my face but I find it very hard to get the mask off otherwise.

  30. rosacea wash says:

    I only wash my face when it gets really itchy, this is to preserve the skin’s natural moisture. But your idea of using oils seems very interesting. I’m sure it’s great for women to wipe off any make-up. Coconut oil seems a great choice of oil, as it may also smell nice. Don’t you have to wash your pillow cases more often or does the oil get absorbed into the skin enough?

  31. Cutepiggy says:

    I’ve just discovered your website, and was reading about the better for babies re-usable cotton pads with the laundry bag which I have wished existed for about 3 years, so I was obviously mega excited to find out they did exist!! But am now really sad because it seems like I missed buying from their website by about an hour – they have just closed their doors! :o((( Do you have any other reusable cotton pads you can recommend? Thanks!

  32. Mariam says:

    Do you notice that leaving oil overnight on your face, seems encourage facial hair growth? Or is it just me? Whenever I leave olive oil on my face overnight, I notice there there is a lot more growth of facial hair.

  33. Reader says:

    I don’t trust tap water.

  34. Essence says:

    I do not wash my face either. I use lukewarm water (colder than hotter) and rinse my face daily. Then I follow up with a small amount of light moisturizer. When I am ill, I do breakout, and then I use a cream cleanser a few times. I find any type of cleanser strips away everything from my face and it feels unbearably tight. I am still looking for the best routine for me, but for many years, simply rinsing with water has been ok. I know people who think not using cleanser and toner daily is unclean. We are not unclean. In fact we are more clean as we strive to put only pure things in and on our bodies.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] I only recently stopped washing my face in the morning and just rinse with warm water and Apply an oil and moisturizer and my face love it. I still wash at night to remove makeup and city grime […]

  2. […] are beyond excited about these toners and here’s why: Unlike the water in your tap (which Alexandra almost never uses), these ‘living waters’ do not mess with skin’s pH balance (for a recap on why […]

  3. […] WireSunday, August 28, 2011How to clean your face without washing itBy Alexandra Spunt for NoMoreDirtyLooks.comSince the big reveals a few weeks ago—when Siobhan and I told you our play-by-play morning […]

  4. […] dive right in. Are you guys not using water? Do you make Alexandra’s DIY honey face wash? Have you also spent a small fortune on your […]

  5. […] By Alexandra Spunt for […]

Leave A Comment