The Gross Change I Made to My Skincare Routine

I’ve recently made a change in my skincare routine and it has drastically improved my skin. The change is more extreme than any product I’ve ever tried. And honestly, it’s kind of gross.

The Gross Change I Made To My Skincare Routine

After years of battling acne, I was hard-wired to wash my face every morning and night. I never sleep with makeup on (I can’t think of one time that I ever have, it gives me the heebie geebies just thinking about it). I change my pillowcases religiously. I border on neurotic about it. Just kidding, I’m completely neurotic about it. Touch my face and die.

Years later, my once oily skin is now fairly dry with occasionally breakouts. Tack on this bitter winter we’ve been having and my face was a constant flakey mess. I’d established some habits to help battle the flakes but still, I was losing.

One day at work I was talking about skincare with my coworker and mentioned that I could not get my face to stop flaking, when she asked me, “why don’t you stop washing your face twice a day?” Um, what? This had never occurred to me. Ever. Washing my face morning and night is such a part of my routine, such an assumed action. I’d done this every day since the dermatologist told me to when I was about 13. I was certain that it would make me break out if I stopped my twice a day habit.

But I tried it. I stopped washing my face in the morning. Each morning I wake up and splash water on my face, sans cleanser. Then I moisturize and do my makeup as usual.

The flakes are gone. Not a little gone. Not slightly better. Completely gone. A drastic improvement. As a result, I’ve also had almost no pimples since I stopped my morning wash. I had always suspected that my dry flaky skin was actually causing me to break out. Looks like that may have been exactly what was happening.

I’m a little squeamish about it still. Like any new habit, it takes some getting used to. I have to fight off the heebie geebies each time I apply more moisturizer after just rinsing my face. But when I can apply makeup smoothly without it emphasizing my dry skin, those feelings instantly disappear.

As we get closer to summer, I may reassess my routine. But for now, WOW, I can’t believe such a simple change has made all the difference.

How often do you wash your face? Was I the weirdo before or am I the weirdo now?

  • I go through my full skin care routine at night (cleanser, serum, moisturizer) but only moisturize in the morning. Unless I go to the gym in the morning and then I also use cleanser. I sometimes have the same issue as you — the dry, flaky skin. I thought it was just a winter thing, but now that you mention it, when I don’t cleanse in the morning, it’s much better. Hmmm.

    • It had never occurred to me that washing twice a day was what was making my skin so dry. I even use the most gentle possible cleanser so I thought there was no way it could be a contributing factor.

  • Pam

    I only wash my face at night. I shower in the morning and then put on face lotion and make-up and Im good to go!

    I think it would be strange to wash my face in the morning since Ive done nothing but sleep since I’d last washed it!

    • That’s very true. I think from years of having acne I just thought it was good to wash away the oil that your face has produced overnight.

  • I do the same thing! I also struggle with dry skin that occasionally flakes and peels, especially around my chin and nose. I stopped washing my face in the morning and instead apply my moisturizer and eye cream before continuing with primer and makeup. I do my full skincare routine at night, exfoliator, toner, a heavier eye cream, moisturizer, serum and spot medication. My skin looks like a baby’s butt in the morning, and I definitely notice a difference in the dryness.

    • My chin and nose area are exactly what gets dry on my face too. I’m shocked by how many people are mentioning using a serum and a separate eye cream. I thought I was doing okay by moisturizing every day but it looks like I need to add a step or two to my nightly routine.

  • Ola

    I think it depends on what sort of cleanser you were using before, though… I think cleansing – not splashing – is THE most important part of a good skincare routine, but certainly not if the cleanser isn’t well suited for your skin type. Anyway, each to their own – I’m glad you found this works for you! I just wouldn’t do it myself 🙂

    • Maybe I should look in to a better cleanser for my skin then. Do you have any suggestions for dry skin? I use Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser, which I thought was supposed to be really kind to my skin. I’ve heard of people using oil based cleansers for dry skin but those scare me a little because of my history of acne.

      • Give LUSH Ultrabland cleanser a try. It has very little ingredients and is a cream based cleanser so it takes the hassle of rinsing right out! My winter skin routine is this:

        Morning // LUSH Imperialis Moisturizer

        Night // Ultrabland cleanser
        Burts Bees Sensitive Skin Cleaning Wipes to remove the cleanser
        LUSH Eau Roma Water Toner
        LUSH Imperialis Moisturizer

        & I exfoliate with LUSH Ocean Salt twice a week. I’m obviously a huge LUSH fan … I’ve never found anything better for my skin, and the fact that it’s all natural ingredients with expiration dates make me feel confident that I’m using the best thing I possibly can be for my skin.

      • Ola

        Hi Nadine, I honestly think that a good cleanser can make an incredible difference to your skin! I use Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser – have been using it for about two years now and it’s the best thing for me (my skin is combination, but I have dry-skinned friends who also fare well with it). I don’t know how easily available it is in the US, I buy it online and I’m in the UK, and it IS an investment, at least for me, at around £35 for 500ml. We don’t have Neutrogena Ultra Gentle here, but other Neutrogena cleansers cost around £5-£6 for 200ml, so there is a big difference… but it last for a while and my skin’s better than ever.
        I don’t have problems with acne, but my boyfriend does, and his skin is drier than mine. He uses the same cleanser and likes it too (but I’d struggle to get a proper review beyond “it’s good” from him;)).

        Anyway, sorry if this isn’t really helpful… but I would say, try the oil cleansers if you’re curious about them! I used to be worried about them screwing up my skin but have tried a fair few before settling on the Alpha-H and they actually were great for calming skin down when I had some breakouts.

        • Ola

          By the way, I really recommend for anything skin-related – it’s a brilliant blog and I took a lot of good advice from there.

  • Lauren Harrelson

    I do the whole spiel at night, but in the morning I only moisturize – the pillow case thing! I hadnt really thought about how that might affect my face. Does that make me an idiot? I mean, i wash my sheets and all like a normal person, but it had NEVER occurred to me how much my face touches that pillow case. *adds pillowcases to online shopping cart….*

    • Not at all! It is something that I got in to the habit of after my dermatologist told me to make sure I was changing my pillowcase regularly. Apparently they harbor a lot of bacteria so it’s good to change them more frequently than you’d change your sheets. I have tons of extra pillowcases and they rarely match my sheets.

  • I only wash my face once a day (in the shower). I have to use Proactiv because my skin still thinks it’s a teenager (and I STILL have the oil to boot!) but I noticed that if I used it more than 2x a day for too long I’d have too much tightness and MORE breakouts. I definitely have to watch my skin care routine in the winter. Come summer, though, 2x a day is the minimum for me!

    • Did you ever try the Proactiv+? I remember we talked about it a while ago and it’s paraban free. I meant to ask you if you’d tried it and what you thought. Proactiv made my skin super dry, even as a teenager so I haven’t given it another try. I do use 2.5% benzoyl peroxide on zits and I feel like it helps them go away in half the time.

  • I LOL’ed at “touch my face and die.” I don’t have BAD skin but I would not say I have good skin either. It’s prone to breakouts and is combination so sometimes I’m dry and flaky and sometimes it looks like I have Vaseline slathered all over my face (oil blotting pads are my savior). Washing my face twice a day is CRUCIAL so I can’t imagine not doing it, but it DOES make sense to skip the morning wash if you think about it. As long as you use cleanser at night to get the gunk off, using just water in the AM should work. I admit I’m scared to try it but perhaps I will give it a shot……

  • Welcome to the club – I only do the whole rigmarole in the evenings, and have done so for years. Mornings are a splash and dash affair.

  • Kim

    I only wash my face when I’m in the shower- but to be fair I don’t wear makeup on a regular basis. If I do wear makeup I use makeup remover to take it off then splash water. I just never mastered washing my face in a sink without getting everything covered in water!! Glad that cutting down to once a day has helped you!!

  • i used to work for a skincare company and as i have dry // dehydrated skin I was always told to not wash my face as it dries it out further. In the summer its fine, but in the winter I use a cream cleanser and pads and its so much more comfortable.

  • I only wash once a day and I’ve never had bad skin problems. I’m glad you found a solution! Another thing is people usually use wayyy too many products when cleansing- a gentle soap/cleanser and plain old water work well!

  • I only wash my face once a day (to be honest… if I’m lucky) and I use a more moisturizing face wash and it’s really worked wonders! i think as we age our skin needs more moisture so this totally makes sense!

  • For me, the trick of all tricks is kicking it old school – like what my Grandma used to do, old school. I shower in teh mornings so need to wash my face – it’s kind of a ritual – and I use a bioglycolic cleanser that works great but would be way too much to use twice a day.

    To wash my make-up off at night I use Pond’s cold cream, liberally. It removes everything and while my face feels a touch greasy after, I don’t care because I’m going to bed. It does double duty cleaning my skin and keeping it ultra-moisturized.

  • I only wash my face at night too. My skin has a tendency to get a little dry, and it’s helped so much! I’ve realized my skin isn’t near as high maintenance as I always thought it was.

  • Ugh, my skin is so fickle too. I only wash my face in the shower, with Cetaphil, otherwise I use Neutrogena face wipes. Regular cleanser makes my skin go crazy!

  • Haley

    I KNEW it was going to be something like this. I really only wash my face in the shower, but I mostly just splash my face with water to freshen up (I don’t wear makeup) and coconut oil to moisturize. I’ve found that the less I wash my face, the healthier my skin feels.

  • For the majority of my teen years I never had terrible acne, but had terrible blackheads. I washed my face regularly with a wash infused salicylic acid (the products ever revolving), rarely slept in makeup, and took pretty good care of my skin. I blamed the hormonal changes and the daily sweating from softball practice for my skin.

    By college I was beginning to feel fed up with my skin care routine. So many girls around me had lovely, clear skin. I was growing tired of being the girl always sporting at least one blemish. I began to add moisturizer to the mix, exfoliate regularly, and began washing my face 2x a day. In addition, my parents gifted me a pricy clarisonic brush to use at night.

    My skin improved, but it still wasn’t where it should be. It was far from lovely and though I was sporting less blemishes and time between them grew a bit longer, I still always felt like I was just between one breakout and the next. So, feeling a little helpless, I sought out a dermatologist for the first time since my early teen years.

    His solution was surprising. He told me I was actually overworking my skin and being too rough with my skin, which was causing more breakouts than it was preventing. He told me to ditch the salicylic acid and the clarisonic for daily use. He told me to wash once a day, use a gentle face wash made for sensitive skin, and a moisturizer for sensitive skin. Me? Sensitive skin? No way. My skepticism was quickly put to rest. My face cleared up and my complexion started looking better. The time between blemishes is exceptionally longer and I find myself breaking out randomly 10x less.

    It’s crazy how simple skin care can actually be. How actually going for a simpler approach can make a world of difference.

  • I had a similar problem. Now I usually wash my face in the shower and then just use jojoba oil and a damp papertowel to remove my makeup at night without washing my face. Kind of creeped me out at first too but after a month and a half, it’s working well.

  • Iiiiiinteresting! I hadn’t thought to try that, but I just might have to! I use an acne cream (Epiduo) at night though, so it would definitely give me heebie jeebies to not cleanse it off in the morning, even though it probably disappears into my skin overnight anyways! I think I’ll try it for week though and see how I fare. 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

    xo Melyssa
    The Nectar Collective

    • I would feel like I needed to wash too, if I applied medicine. I do think that a really good rinse in the morning might still be enough to take off what is left of the medicine. By then your skin has already absorbed what it needed to so you’re just rinsing off the rest.

  • I love it when we find things like this! I’ve recently stopped washing my hair so much, and it is much smoother and healthier in general. It’s funny how the products that are supposed to help us, sometimes just make the situation worse.

    • That was true for me also. My scalp is really dry and when I wash my hair every other day instead of every day, my scalp stops being itchy.

  • Julia

    Hi! I’ve been reading for a while but haven’t commented before. I don’t think it’s weird at all to only wash your face once a day! Probably because that’s what I do, haha. I actually sometimes use coconut oil as a moisturizer at night and WOW, my face is most definitely moisturized from it! It’s weird-feeling at first, because my face is literally covered in oil, but by the next morning it’s all soaked in and my face is soft and smooth. I’ve noticed that I get fewer pimples if I do this 2-3 times a week, but sometimes I just don’t do it because it’s so weird/gross feeling. I read somewhere that coconut oil has anti-bacterial properties, so maybe it helps fight acne that way or something? IDK.

    • I’ve heard that coconut oil helps acne too and I use it as moisturizer on my body and sometimes as shave gel in the shower. I love it but have always been scared to put it on my face. I’ve read conflicting things about it being anti-bacterial/anti-fungal but also that it is super comedegenic. I should still try it one time. What’s the worst that would happen?

  • Moe

    I’ve actually only wash my face once a day for as long as I can remember. I figured since I shower at night (and never put on anything besides skincare after I shower), I don’t see why I need to wash my face with a cleanser in the morning as well. The only thing my face is exposed to from the time I was my face during shower to the time I wake up are skincare products. And in the morning I rinse my face with a wash cloth and go one with my day. This also extends the use of your face cleansers since you’re only using it once a day now!

    • Also, true. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I’ll go through cleanser half as fast. That’s a good bonus! I’m shocked by how many people said that they also only wash once a day. I really thought what I was doing (2x a day) all along was the norm.

  • Meg

    I just don’t wear makeup, except on special occasions, and those times are the only time I wash my face with and kind of cleanser. For the most part I just wash my face with water and a face washer. My skin has been almost flawless ever since I gave up putting stuff all over it. I also don’t use any fancy moisturisers, just a bit of coconut oil with lavender oil, because it smells nice, or sorbolene, (and sunscreen if I’m going to be outside for any length of time) depending on how I feel on the day. Don’t stress, your skin’s pretty good at looking after itself. I swear, I sound like the biggest hippie, I’m not really.

  • JC

    I stopped washing my face daily in high school for this reason. I have major issues with dry skin so less cleanser helps. Now I only put soap on my face if I’m sweaty or particularly dirty. I also use an abrasive scrub once a week or so to help get rid of some of the dry skin.

  • I do the same thing! I actually wash my face (with cleanser) every night, but in the mornings I wet a wash cloth with warm water and gently run it over my face – no cleanser, just warm water. Then I moisturize and do my make up. :]


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