I Tried the Caveman Regimen for 1 Week and Here's What Happened
December 19, 2021
by Kali Kushner
What's The Caveman Regimen?
If you haven't heard of the caveman regimen, it basically means you stop using any skin care or products on your face and you avoid scrubbing or picking at your skin for 30 days. It is suppose to work by giving your skin time to rebalance itself.
So yes, I basically stopped washing my face for a whole week.
I noticed my skin went thought a lot of changes during that week.
A skincare addicts worst nightmare? Going without cleanser, serums, moisturizers, spot treatments, or masks for the rest of their life.
A severe acne sufferers dream? Clear skin for the rest oftheir life without spending all that time and money on skincare.
As both a skincare addict and someone with acne, I feel a bit conflicted on this process.
I've always thought an expensive and excessive amount of top shelf skincareequaled clear skin, but inreality, sometimes overuse of products can actually irritate our skin and make conditions worse.At least this is the theory behind theCavemanRegimen.
If you religiously stalk acne community boards on reddit andacne.org, you’ve heard about it by now. Its popularity began a few years ago andit's kind of fizzled out a bit since.
Ihaven't actually seen a whole lot of personaltestimonies or before and after acne photos (like you do with extreme diet or lifestyle changes),thesuccess stories aremostly word of mouth.
The cavemanregimen is basically like the paleo diets of skincare, it urges for acne sufferers to go back toextremebasics.
I'm talking absolutely nothing touching your face, no makeup, no skincare, no hands, not even water for a whole 30 days. Youcan't pick, scratch, ortouch your face during this timeperiod while your skin rebuilds and rebalances itself.
The theory being thata lifetime of chemical filled acne treatingproducts may be irritating your skin and disruptingthe skin barrier. There is some suggestive evidence that an impaired skin barrier function tends to correlate with more acne.
By giving your skin a break, your allowing it to function on its own and naturally heal itself as nature intended- without the disruption fromother topicals.Of course, thiswon't work for everyone but if you've tried everything it might be worth a shot.
The cavemanregimen is also theoretically about ditching typical acne rules.
You don’t have to wash your face every single morning and night, apply zit cream, moisturize, or do any of that stuff! It's about letting go, not worrying about strict routines or diets, and not letting acne control your mind and thoughts.
If you get spots, screw it! Don’t pickem, don’t treat them, and stop obsessing over your skin,just let the spots be and see what happens.
Why I Decided to try the Caveman Regimen
I mean think about it. When is the last time youdidn’twash your face? Ever since my first15 year old pimpleI've been taught- cleanse,tone, moisturize.
Sobasically, for the past 10 (ish) years my face hasn't gotten a break,I've been treating it every single morning and night with the FEAR that skipping a wash would lead to a breakout.
In reality, I may have been doing the opposite of what my problematic sensitive skinneeded. From what I can tell the cavemanregimen is recommended for those who have oily, dry, dehydrated, and acne prone skin. Its recommended as a last resort- for those who have tried absolutely everything. It seems especially helpful for the treatment ofchronic adult acne / cystic acne.
This is why I decided it was time for me to give it a go;I've triedeverything. Antibiotics, birth control,Accutane, veganism, low carb diet, high carb diet, dairy free diet, gluten free diet,exercising every other day, 2 step skincare routines, aha/bhas, 12 step skincare routines, only using essential oils, washing my face with bottled water,retin-a,epiduo, andall-natural skincare (and probably many other things).
My acneisn't hormonal,it's not really triggered by foods other than dairy,andconsideringI'm the only one in my family that has cystic acne-I'm pretty sureit's not genetic. Confused, right? Me too.
I've exhausted all of my options and while natural skincare works forme mostof the time, the past 3 monthsI've beenconsistently breaking out in apre-Accutane manner.
Whiteheads andblackheads, I can deal with no problem, but 4 cysts at a time the size of quarters that take 3 weeks to go away (and scar when they do) - not okay.I started looking at the rest of my skin, my jawline, my neck, legs, chest, and back are all blemish free.
The difference between these areas on my body and my face?I'm not constantly manipulating, masking,lotioning, and washing them. I leave them alone and allow them to regulate themselves, why would the skin on my face beanydifferent?
A few other reasons I decided to try the caveman regimen are:
Many men have clear skin and lack a skincare routine. My husband for example lets water run down his face in the shower every couple of days and hasn’t had one pimple the entire 4 years of our marriage.
It’s the simplest andcheapest cure ever, less really is more.I've tried just cleansing and moisturizing, but I have never completely cut outall skincare. For the past 10 years my skin has never gotten a break.
I've been breaking out anyways and driving myself crazy with countless cures,diets, and topicals,so what do I really have to lose?
I've never noticed a difference with dietary changes (besides cutting out dairy). I can be a fully raw vegan or eat hot dogs for a week, I want it to make a difference but most of the time it truly doesn’t. The only wayI've ever noticed a difference with my diet was cutting out dairy and upping my veggie intake- and Istillget cysts.
I've noticed my skin always clears up when I ignore my usual routine: whenI'm sick, camping, or accidentally sleep in my makeup. It could be a coincidence or it could be the answer to everything.
The acid mantle. We have a protective layer on our skin that protects from harmful bacteria and prevents acne- this is called the acidmantle. The face washes and moisturizers we use for acne may actually destroy your acid mantle overtime if they are not properly pH balanced (making your skinfeel squeaky clean). Ifyou're interested in the role the acid mantle plays in having acne and balancing pH, you canread more about that here.
Giving up and letting go. I just don’t really feel like being restricted to such an intense routine anddiet anymore. The more I research about acne, it feels like the less I know and the more conflicting information I find online about what actually causes acne and what cures it. "Do try this, don’t try that". Screw it,I'm going to try.... nothing!
My One Week Caveman Experiment
Every caveman experience is different, some people go withoutanythingtouching their face- not even water. Others use only waterevery day, and some even use spot treatments or makeup butdon't rinse it off whenthey're done. I have been virtually makeup free for the past 7 months so going barefaced wasn't going to be difficult for me.
However, not letting anything at all touch my face wasn’t going to fly.I am used to daily serums, moisturizers, cleansers, and toners; skincare has been in my life so long, its apart of my identity.
Iactually enjoy the experience of pampering myself daily so giving up everything was going to be tough. I decided to just use water occasionally butI'm not going to make a point of it;
I wasn't going to scrub or use anything else other than occasionally water.
My 7 Day Caveman Experience
Are you guys ready? Becausethe results are ridiculous.
Day 1:I honestly didn't go in with a positive mindset- being thatI've tried everything Ididn't expect something as simple as not messing with your face to actually help your skin. I mean, it makes sense but acne products are specifically designed to improve skin conditions, not make them worse!
My skin felt fine the first day, no life changing events. It wasquite weird to go to bed without cleansing my face, I felt dirty and greasytbh. My skin was breaking out when I began thisexperiment so I thought- screw it, itcan't get any worse!
Day 2:So, I'm not sure what happened overnight but I woke up to my skin being completely dried out. It felt itchy and tight but looked a lot calmer. Redness was gone and my cystic spots looked a lot less aggravated.
Day 3:Okay at this pointI'm craving a good ole face wash. My skin feels disgusting but again,it's actually clearing up and looking a lot calmer. There are patches of dead dry skin around my mouth, but that’sa part of the whole process while your skin works to balance itself out.
For the people who don't wash their faces at all, they build a "dead skin mask" that is washed off after 30 days and reveals clear, baby soft skin.
Day 4:I caved. Today I decided I couldn't stand the feeling of dead skin on my face anymore- I don’t know how regular people do this?So, I washed my face with warm water and let me tell you, it felt amazing.
I just used my fingers to exfoliate gently and a bit of water coming from the showerhead. When I got out of the shower and looked at my face there were dead pieces of skin literally hanging from the sides of my face, it was gnarly but at least that means its working!
I got a decent sized pimple under my nose that had been waiting to pop up for a few days, it was large and throbbing.I've also been having some textural issues on my forehead and my chin, but nothing major and nothing really ever comes to a head. If it does, its only lasting about a day or so.
Day 5:So far so good, I don't know if this is just a honeymoon phase or what but almost all of my acne has cleared.
My cysts are flat, notinflamed and a little piece of dead skin flakes off from my spots as they healevery day.It's been crazy to see such a fastturnaround time. Today I feel like my skin is producing oil, maybe?
It feels a bitgreasier in my T-zone area but the rest of my skin is still pretty dang dry and flaky (especially around my mouth).
It's been exciting to wake up and not have a new cyst every day or every other day,I've actually been cheating on my diet a little too andhaven't experienced any negative consequences so far.Iworked out for the first time this week today so it'll be interesting to see how my skin reacts to the sweat and dirt that’s accumulated on my face.
Day 6:I knew going into this experiment that my skin would go through lots of changes, however day 6 has been the roughest so far.It's actuallybetterand less inflamed from when I started butit's not as clear and bright as it was yesterday. It looks rough, dry, and has some red skin patches.
I'm chocking this up to lack of sleep as I got a totalof1-hour lastnight and sweating duringexercise thennot washing my face. Some of the under the skin spots I had been dealing with are now purging and finding their way to the surface, mostly on the chin (which is odd as my breakouts are always on my cheeks).
I have two under the skin small bumps right next to old cysts I had-butI'm unsure if they’ll turn out as cysts or just go away as theyaren't veryinflamed.I'm thinking about rinsing my face with water again the next timeI'm in the shower butI'm trying to hold out until tomorrow!
Day 7:I'mcommittedy'all, I have no new cysts. Last night wasvalentine's day and thoughI felt the urge to slap foundation all over my face, I resisted. In allhonesty I did putconcealer under my eyes, but other than that I was virtually makeup free. My skin felt and looked so good at one point in the night my husband actually asked me if I was wearing makeup!
I've basically decided that for the rest of the experimentI'm not letting anything else touch my face, not even water.It's going to be hard butI've seen such amazing resultsI'm hopingit'll be worth it!
I'm actually flabbergasted that this experiment is workingsoowell. I haven't exactly been eating the healthiest and had a few drinks to celebrate the holiday. Completely ditching my skincare routine and not worrying about whatI'm eating has completely freed up my mind and help me feel more at ease. I hope it only continues to get better and I can provide a30 day update!
my conclusion on the caveman regimen
The biggest takeaway for me was to not worry about my skin. There are so many different factors at stake when it comes to what causes acne, itdoesn't help toobsess over it. Not constantly pickingor staring over each and every pimple I got made me feel more relaxed and grounded.
It has been really good for me psychologically to just stopworrying!It'salso been eye opening for me to realize that I touch my face way more than I thought.I'veconsciously left my hands away from my face during the whole experiment and whenever I messed with a spot it immediately becomes inflamed.
You've got nothing to lose, if you’ve tried everything might as well try nothing. You can modify the cavemanregimen as you see fit, even washing your face with an oil every few days!
I've seen such great results thatI'm going to continue it for the full 30 days to completely rebalance my skin and repairthe acidmantle.
If my skin clears after an entire month then I willbegin to reintroduce skincare a little bit at a time, masking once every two weeks instead of every other day.This timeI'm going to takeALOTof time with each product I am using to make sure that it doesn't break me out.
And maybe- Iwon't wash my face ever again, who knows?!Sofar, thecavemanregimen has taught me that sometimes we need simplicity, to take a step back and get out of the way so our bodies can regulate themselves.
Don't overwork your skin!It's meant to heal itself and sometimes we can get in the way of that bylayeringon products and over exfoliating the skin.
I actually continued this experiment for a full 30 days, with some modification, you can read it on the link below!