How Often Do You Wash Your Face?

This morning I was poking around one of my favorite style-photography sites (the toujours-charmante Garance Doré’s) and saw the headline “Water.” In it, she pays her dermato a visit with a long list of questions and skincare concerns and comes away with just one startling piece of advice:

“Your skin is very good. It’s just exhausted. The only thing you need is to: Stop water.

I almost started to cry. I’ve been told for years that water is not good for my skin (is it good for anybody’s skin?) but I resist. I rebel. For me, being clean equals using water and something that foams a lot. I knew that one day at the turn of my century, I would pay the price of my mindlessness, but not unlike Pete Doherty, I prefered to ignore the advice of people who cared for me.

I was always choosing the dark side of the force, and that is to say : WATER

I’ve heard of this before and I think it’s definitely a French thing, but it got me thinking. How do you keep your face from getting wet in the shower? And if you’re not using any water but you are wearing makeup, then whaaaa? Using a cream cleanser and wiping it off with cotton? Wouldn’t that leave residue that you would then need a toner or something to get off? Seems laborious to me! And it also seems like it would necessitate more products, not fewer, which is not in keeping with my less-is-more philosophy. Maybe Garance’s skin is exhausted from the foaming cleanser she’s using? Who knows! My suspicion has always been that water is less of a problem; it’s what you use with it that can make your skin sad.

We’ve talked about being dirty over here before. We even roped you all into a no-soap challenge that was, in our estimation, a pretty big success! But we exempted washing your hair, your face and your underarms/privates because, well, that seemed the right thing to do.

There were times (years, actually) when I didn’t feel clean unless I washed my face upwards of three times a day, and wiped it down with alcohol-laced toners. Now I know better, and what works best for me is if I only wash my face at night, to get off my makeup, sunscreen and grime from the filthy city I live in. But I don’t wash it in the morning; I use a clean muslin cloth and wipe down with…water. At night I use Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser.

What’s your take? Do you wash your face twice a day, and if so, why? And have you ever forsaken water?

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What a great challenge! We got DOZENS of amazing testimonials from you brave souls and it was tough to choose a winner—but we did. First though, here are some highlights from your responses:

—Virtually none of you had smell issues without soap. If you did, they seemed to pass quickly.

—Only one of you felt you really needed to go back to soaping your pits after a few days, but you saw drastic improvements elsewhere.

—Many, if not most of you, reported softer, less dry skin.

—Some of you saw pimples, bumps, and dry patches disappear. Another said it was the end of her legzema.

—Many of you made people smell you, which is awesome and hilarious.

—Some of you were sneaky, and hid it from the men in your lives to see if they’d notice. They didn’t.

—Many of you were able to ditch your moisturizer.

—Two of you reported that your cracked heals were cured.

—Another mused about your suddenly soft elbows.

—Two of you tried this in Brazil during a heat wave. (Kudos!)

—One of you didn’t hear about soap until your teens. (Fascinating!)

—Some of you have been soapless for years.

—One of you wrote a poem. (You’re our new hero.)

—One of you is pregnant, and going soapless soothed your itchy skin.

—One of you used to be an adult escort, and frequent soaping gave you major problems. Those are gone now.

—Some of you thought 100 words was too short.

And you’re right, that was certainly part of the challenge. We’re writers (and editors), so we know that it’s harder to use fewer words. But you all did great. Especially our winner who made quite the impact with her 94 words. She also made us laugh. Not surprisingly she’s a writer with her own blog. Miss Shine, maybe you can buy something nice for your boyfriend’s mother with your gift certificate from NuboNau. Here’s her response:

You’d think I said I’d robbed a liquor store for crack money.  I thought I had heard it all when I stopped washing my hair five months ago.  You haven’t lived until you’ve told your Nana that you don’t use shampoo.  Maybe she would have taken my atheism news better?

Maybe not.

Last weekend I met my boyfriend’s parents for the first time.  “So you don’t…wash yourself?”  Look to her son. Look to the heavens. I just told my boyfriend’s mom that I don’t wash my vagina.  And I’m not going to give her any grandchildren. In the same weekend.

We’re already gearing up for our next challenge, so stay tuned. Apparently prizes are a motivator. We’ll keep that in mind.

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Inspired by Sean Bonner, our friends at GOOD who are braving the stink, as well as our own growing disdain for soap, we have a challenge for you, dear readers. And this one could have serious payoff! Here goes:

—For the next two weeks, or for at least 5 days between now and January 26th, we want you to give up soap entirely. You can still shower, rinse, rinse, do your thing. But hands off the bar of soap and body wash.

—Then, instead of sending us a picture as we’ve done in the past, send us your story. 100 words or less, please. We want the gory details: pit tests, boy/girlfriend reactions, coworker complaints, praise etc…

—Our favorite testimonials will be published here, and one of you will win a $100 gift certificate from the amazing natural beauty store NuboNau. They carry some of our favorite products, including natural and sweet-smelling body washes, should the experiment leave you jonesing for one. Or you can just buy some great makeup if you decide to swear off soap.

The rules: No soap, no body wash, nada. This one isn’t about hair though, so you can totally shampoo—just don’t be cheating with those suds. (And yes, for the sake of basic human decency, we encourage you to continue to wash your hands and private parts, obviously.)

Instructions: Send your no-soap experience  to nomoredirtylooks (at) gmail (dot) com, with NO SOAP in the subject line, and keep it to 100 words or less. Please include your first name and city of origin. We need all stories by end of day, Wednesday, January 26th. We will post the best testimonials on our site, as well as on our Facebook page. The person with the most compelling one, be it good or bad, will get a $100 gift certificate to shop at the killer natural beauty store NuboNau.

Pretty please: Help us spread the word! Tweet it, Facebook it, scream from the rooftops, and tell your friends to get on board with you. Besides, it’s better not to stink alone.

The reason for the challenge: Just to test conventional wisdom. More and more people are choosing to go without soap and other conventional cleaning methods. We still use a little, but less than we once did and our skin is happier for it. Give it a whirl.

So are you game? Will you be joining the no-soap challenge?