secret: i don’t wash my face.

February 26, 2013
face brush
Here’s a secret: I don’t wash my face. Or I didn’t until recently.
I know. I live in the big bad grimy city and I almost never touch soap to these cheeks of mine. 
Matters of the face are personal, no surprise. What’s good for mine will undoubtedly not translate to yours. But, I stopped washing my face about six years ago and I haven’t looked back. Ceasing to use all manner of sudsing, bubbling cleansers has done wonders for my complexion. But in these last days of February, I began to feel like I needed more help. In case you’ve also found yourself looking at your face in the mirror and wondering where your youth went, I thought I’d share my latest discovery:
Maybe I should start by saying that I’m not a products girl. Scoping out Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database is enough to steer me away from most things stocking pharmacy shelves forever. These are the exceptions, currently: It doesn’t have a perfect rating, but after nearly 15 years of using the stuff, I’m still pretty reliant on Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel toner (I keep on saying that I’ll make my own stuff that doesn’t include the “natural rose fragrance,” but that hasn’t happened yet). I also have at my raccoon eyes with a cotton swab and hand soap (no doubt helping along those crows’ feet…). And while I’ve used natural oils to moisturize in the past, this winter I guess I got lazy and I started using Burt’s Bees Radiance Day Cream. Like just about every other product anywhere, the inclusion of fragrance ups this product’s hazard rating. Sigh. If you’d also like to obsess over the potentials of your beauty routine to be disrupting your endocrine system, head here
But don’t despair! There’s a happy ending:
Over the weekend James and I did some small apartment storage overhauling and went to Muji to buy a new under-the-bed storage thingy. Has there been a study linking that store and endorphine production? No? Well.
While purring over the neatly stocked shelves, I stumbled upon this small wooden brush, which I mostly just liked the look of. When I read that the label called it a face brush, I was sold.
Four days of using it and I’m already ready to shout from the rooftops. I’m not ready to start using any real cleanser with it: just a little bit of the same olive oil-based bar soap we’ve been using lately in the shower. But really: a few small circular motions in the morning and I have the softest skin I’ve felt on my own face in years, and I’m not spending any time worrying about words I can’t pronounce. Also: it’s cute.
If you think you’d dig, you can find one here.

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  • Reply Chloe Moon February 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I'm so lazy when it goes to cleaning my face. I've never had much acne even as a teenager so I would just run my face under the shower and use my make-up removers. I've never tried face brush but I'm intrigued…I'll have to check them out!!! =) Thanks for sharing!

    Ergo – Blog

  • Reply Miya February 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    LOVE muji! i've been using these cheap-o japanese washcloths for years on my face (same idea–scrubby & wonderful) and swear by them. happy tuesday! xo

    • Reply Erin February 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      ooh! those sound terrific!

  • Reply fibreandspice February 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    If I use any sort of face wash, my skins immediately feels like it is going to crack. This sounds brilliant, like it will remove dirt and impurities without stripping all the natural oils. Thanks for the tip!
    Tia –

  • Reply Charlotte | Charlotte's Web February 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Ah I want one! I don't tend to use face wash either.. every so often I'll use a scrub but other than that I don't bother. It just always makes my skin feel so tight and irritated when I do xx

  • Reply LQ February 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    This may sound disgusting, but I've been cleansing my face with a paste of powdered milk and water for about a year now (subbing with the lightly exfoliating power of baking soda on occasion), and I'm very, very happy with the results. I'll likely never use a store-bought cleanser again! Liking the sound of this brush, though…

    • Reply Erin February 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      sounds inventive! i'm not shy about introducing food stuffs to these pores! bring on the powdered milk!

  • Reply Katie February 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I am having the same problems…. I never, ever wash my face due to laziness, habit, and my distaste for all things chemical but I am starting to get blackheads and worry about looking like an old lady. My routine consists of washing my face with Dr Bronners and slathering egpytian magic all over my face (which seems pretty safe to me). Going to try the brush! Thanks!

  • Reply kay* February 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    the BEST investment i've made in my skin recently has been a clarisonic. for me, it's really an investment but the difference in the appearance and texture of my skin has been incredible. i was using a brush similar to the one you bought and wanted to take the next step and honestly – i haven't regretted it once.

    also, i don't think it's bad not to wash your face. i had a dermatologist who suggested i only wash my face if it feels particularly dirty and instead suggested just rinsing my eyes in the morning.

  • Reply Julia (Color Me Green) February 26, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    i haven't washed my face since i was a teenager – it's a fallacy from big companies who want to trick us into thinking we need their products. as for moisturizers without parabens and unfamiliar ingredients, i've been very happy with the nubian line, which i think you can get in whole foods – basically just shea butter and natural oils, but it's not greasy – thought i would share because my search for a moisturizer took me so much time

    • Reply Erin February 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      glad to hear it! i've used their body lotion before, but never on my face!

  • Reply forefrontfashion February 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    i am madly in love with this face cream. made in maine and 76% made from all natural, organic ingredients. its SO glorious.
    i am slowly trying to go all organic with my beauty products – but alas, I am a mascara junkie.

    • Reply Erin February 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      mmmm. sounds awesome.

  • Reply Lauren Ashley February 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I recently purchased a clarisonic – similar theory? I love the brush idea for people who my not want to make the purchase (now or ever, because – hey if it's workin …)

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic February 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I don't use a lot of products either, and I don't wear makeup; I must admit, though, that one reason I don't wear makeup is that even though I'm in my 30s, I still don't really know how to put it on without looking like a five-year old did my makeup. I used to try those products like ProActiv and Neutrogena to wash my face, but they didn't really help me very much. What did help was good old-fashioned soap, water, exercise, and healthy foods.

  • Reply Katie Ann February 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Yes, yes, YES! I don't remember the last time I used face wash. I just use olive oil or coconut oil with my brush.. or nothing at all. It really does make a world of difference!

    Take care,

    • Reply Erin February 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      amazing! so, just a little bit of the oil right on the brush? with water? or no? curious!

    • Reply Katie Ann February 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Yeah! If I'm exfoliating at night, then I'll rub little dabs of olive oil/coconut oil on my face, and let the brush do the work. I dab off excess oil with a cloth, but leave it on as a moisturizer over night. In the morning, I start fresh by just using water and the brush, and then use a regular lotion to replenish moisture/block it in for the day. It's wonderful!

  • Reply Elise Martinez February 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I definitely need to use a face wash, but I've been trying to do things more naturally. I really like the sound of this brush. My skin is sensitive, but I'd like to see if this type of thing would brighten my face a little. Great post!

  • Reply Bostongemmie February 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I havent used soap on my face in years. I wash daily with St Ives Apricot Facial Scrub which scores a 6 šŸ™ in the database!!! But no info given way!!!!

    I really love it! I use warm water at night to clean my face and havent had any issues in years. Occassionally pimple usually in the same spot which i contribute to resting my chin on my hand at work. So afraid to check out my face lotion.

    great info though..thanks for sharing and i need that brush@ šŸ™‚

    • Reply Erin February 26, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      hey there, if you click on the product name you'll get a more detailed explanation!

  • Reply Fey February 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    I have been using jojoba oil on cotton balls to clean my face. It's great! It cleanses and moisturizes at the same time. It unclog pores and does n't get oily since it is an oil with closest resemblance to our own sebum. On days when I get pimples I add a little tea tree oil to the mix. I love it.

    • Reply Erin February 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      i am so intrigued! i've never considered oil as cleanser–might have to give it a whirl!

    • Reply Fey February 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm — this is where i learned it from. Olive oil is a little too oily for me so I switched to Jojoba which I buy from Trader Joes. Any oil with low clogging probability should be fine, i.e. Almond (Sweet Almond) oil, avocado oil, castor oil, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Peanut Oil, Safflower Oil, Sesame Oil
      Sunflower Oil. I also add a few drops of Tea tree oil on mine for it's antiseptic properties šŸ™‚

    • Reply Elaine R. February 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Yes! Oils are wonderful. I love jojoba with a touch of tea tree, lavender, or calendula. And jojoba also makes a wonderful eye makeup remover!

  • Reply A Pearl In The Making February 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    This place looks amazing.

  • Reply George February 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Can't even remember the last time i used soap on my face. In fact i don't even use shampoo or anything else for my hair for 2.5 years now.

    All those chemicals the put in soaps and stuff can't just be good for your skin. After i stopped using shampoo dandruff that i had for as long as i can remember disappeared in weeks.

    Don't know about a brush but as a guy i may have to worry less about these things šŸ˜‰

    • Reply Erin February 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      oh, i don't know about that. baby soft man-cheeks aren't so bad either.

  • Reply magnoliaamber February 26, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Oh your question about endocrine is so interesting!! I am studying endocrine in female reproductive system, hmm, you make me ponder now.. I use baby oil, and other baby product and used old-fashioned brands (the kind that my mum used) but yes I have withdrawn more and more from the soap…

    thanks for sharing šŸ™‚

  • Reply nancy February 26, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Oh, my goodness – this comment stream makes me feel so much better about my decision to stop cleaning my face! My partner encouraged me to stop using cleansers while we were in South America and my acne issues weren't improving. I haven't looked back either. šŸ™‚ If my skin feels particularly dirty, I'll gently massage it with my loofah puff, but that's all! I'm glad you found something that works šŸ™‚

  • Reply Debs February 26, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    How in heavens name do you all get makeup off without soap? I cannot get mascara off without soap.

    • Reply Erin February 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Ha! Sounds like a lot of folks use oil to remove makeup. Myself, I've been using soap…

  • Reply richelle February 27, 2013 at 12:27 am

    this is great! i have problem skin and no matter what cleanser i use it is always read. thanks for this info!

  • Reply dear olive February 27, 2013 at 2:21 am

    I started using an amazing oil cleanser about 6 or more months ago, and I will never go back! It's by planet eve organics, if you're interested. It's truly lovely, although I have friends who simply just use olive oil and love it too (and the savings). Kellie xx

  • Reply Jenna February 27, 2013 at 2:41 am

    just to add a suggestion based on all the above conversations – if you haven't tried Aesop I would really recommend šŸ™‚ their purifying facial cleanser is beautiful, my skin personally goes nuts if I attempt to use cream cleansers and what not – but I have slowly been swapping over to all things Aesop and it's made a huge difference. The stores here in Aus are very generous with samples for you to try enough for a week to make sure a-is-all-ok pre-purchase!


    • Reply Erin February 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      Hey jenna, Aesop packaging is so lovely! I've always been a little wary of their ingredients–so many things I can't read. Maybe I should look again!

  • Reply Amanda February 27, 2013 at 6:30 am

    I use the same Thayer's Witch Hazel Rose Toner. It makes my skin so smooth is is great at removing makeup. I don't wash my face anymore either!

  • Reply Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I totally agree! I can't believe there are so many that stopped using soap on their face. I stopped using any kind of cleanser on my face about 7 years ago, when my husband told me I should stop using harsh chemicals on my face and let it rest a bit. I did exactly that, and now my face is blemish free, and feels younger with less wrinkles! Now, I use olive oil for cleansing, and use lavender essential oil like once a week. I actually use natural cream of any kind for moisturizing as well. I agree about the Muji store, it's wonderful… YZ

  • Reply Georgie February 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Can you get Neal's Yard products in the States? They only use natural, organic oils, and I swear by them. The Rose Facial Oil is amazing as a moisturiser (I only use it in the winter though) and they have a great oil-based make up remover. I'm like you, I don't like to use chemicals round my eyes, but soap's too harsh too; this oil is great, it really soothes the skin! Also, what you said about muji? SO TRUE. I go in there just to calm myself down if I'm stressed. All those storage solutions!

    • Reply Erin February 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Ha! It is calming isn't it? …I don't think I've ever heard of Neal's Yard, but I'll keep my eyes peeled!

  • Reply Reagan Bowman February 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I've been using coconut oil for the past two weeks! My skin is clearer, oh so soft and it feels amazing! No harsh cleansers and no chemicals! I was using Burt's Bee sensitive skin line, but stopped cold turkey one day and switched to coconut oil and saw immediate improvement in my skin. It works great as a cleanser: just rub a small amount all over your face before your shower and rinse it off right before you get out. It will leave the perfect amount of oil on your skin. It can also be used just as a moisturizer after your shower. I also use it all over my body every night. Try it!

    • Reply Erin February 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Fascinating! I've used oil-based eye-makeup removers before, but I've never used oil as a cleanser more widely. I've used coconut oil in the past, but it hasn't always been enough in the depths of winter to keep my skin hydrated!

  • Reply Faith February 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I've never thought of using a face brush before! I have always used over-the-counter facial cleansers. I may have to give this a try. šŸ™‚ Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply emily @ cabin fervor February 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    At our house, we look up every product on EWG before buying it — great resource. We don't use anything with fragrance, and I also tend to refuse petroleum-based products. It's amazing how limiting those criteria can be, but we've found some great products and truly our skin has never been better since paying much closer attention to what we put on it. My favorites: good old Dr. Bronners for washing face and body, my trusty Clarisonic (also lathered with a bar of Dr. Bronners), various skin-friendly oils like jojoba or grapeseed for makeup removal and moisturizing stubborn dry spots, witch hazel for toning and California Baby Calendula Cream (available at Target) for soothing, deep moisture. My husband, our baby and I all use the same products nowadays — very convenient!

  • Reply Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I've stopped washing my face with cleansers and applying lotions and potions and have never looked back. I'm also of the oil as cleanser and moisturizer and mascara remover (I don't wear much of any other makeup). I use pure jojoba oil on my face while occasionally adding some tea tree for the stray premenstrual pimple. I have used those tiny round reusable cotton face pads but I notice I need to change them out often as they just never dry properly without taking on a stale smell after some time. This brush might be exactly what I need! Thanks for sharing! Love Muji yet somehow never noticed this brush there before.

  • Reply Anjali Kochhar Lipman February 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    I also stopped using cleansers and only use coconut oil to clean my face now. I have had problems with acne since my teens and at 32 I was still fighting the battle. Since the switch a couple months ago, I've had few actual zits and my face stopped being excessively oily in areas trying to overcompensate. The trick is to massage it on and then remove with a hot steamy cloth, after letting the cloth sit on your face for a few seconds and open the pores. Then I use a small amount of the coconut oil afterwards as a moisturizer. My complexion has finally improved after 15 years! Its a fantastic makeup remover too, easily gets off mascara.

  • Reply shelbyisrad March 1, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    don't even want to look at the cleansers I've been using but I'm totally going to toss them right now (i'm bad at using them anyway, always forget) and use some olive oil most likely. But I just stumbled across a brand S.W. Basics and just about all of their products are a 0 at the cosmetic database! Might be trying out some of those is olive oil doesn't work for me

  • Reply shararehali March 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I just stopped washing my face a month ago and my skin has never been better!
    I wish I had found out earlier then I would have to look at a few blemish skars less.
    Probably around the age of twenty I started to get blemishes although I never suffered from acne in my teens. So I started to use face wash in the morning and evening. Also I used an antiblemish daycream. I couldn't stand any oily feel on my skin because I was thinking oh this is the reason of my bad skin. So I was obsessed stripping all oils off it with my regimen not knowing that I was causing it going worse over the years.
    This winter one day I looked into the mirror in broad daylight and it scared me: redness, flaking skin and the blemishes of course. Immediately I ditched all the masses of creams, stopped washing my face (only around my eyes in the morning with pure water)
    Know I only use cleansing milk to get rid of my make up and blackheads and some facial oil (NUXE) after showering. I am so satisfied now with my perfectly moisturized skin and happy that I don't have to invest money into expensive creams anymore.

  • Reply karentempler March 4, 2013 at 2:21 am

    I can't stop thinking about this post and discussion! As someone who's lived her whole life with problem skin, it's unfathomable to me the idea of not washing your face. But my skin is so different now than it was two decades ago, who knows what might be possible! I'm just terrified to even think of trying it.

  • Reply Sarah Dee March 4, 2013 at 4:49 am

    I too am a EWG skin deep buff and I love Thayers rose witch hazel toner! Seriously it sounds like we have the same face washing (or lack of) routine! Gonna go check out that brush now šŸ™‚


  • Reply Celina March 10, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Eek! I would love to be able to get used to not washing my face again but wear a bit of foundation most days so it's hard for me not to wash my face before going to bed. šŸ™

    Do you wear foundation? If so, do you just use your brush to get it off now or do you use the toner?

    • Reply Erin March 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Celina! I don't wear foundation, which might make not using a cleanser a little easier. That being said, I imagine the brush would do a good job of scrubbing away the extra layer, too!

  • Reply Linda March 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    I don't understand. How can one go without washing their face? And by not washing do you just mean not using any sort of cleanser? What about when you're in the shower and water gets on your face? Isn't that washing as well?

    I'm super curious!

    I've also stopped using chemical-based cleansers and have been using raw, organic honey to wash my face with. I follow up with avocado oil or Pai moisturizer.

    • Reply Erin March 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Right, I mean that I typically don't use a cleanser….but now that I have my new brush, I'm scrubbing regularly!

  • Reply JC August 28, 2013 at 4:26 am

    This makes so much sense to me. I am not completely cleanser free – I have oily skin and sometimes need more than just water to get it feeling clean, but I generally just use water and a hand knit linen washcloth on my face most days, and use the cleanser maybe twice a week or on days that I wear makeup. People always comment that I have really good skin, and at 37, most people think I am in my early 20s. My younger sister on the other hand buys every trendy product on the market and goes through atleast a dozen products a day (special cleansers and makeup for her face for when she was pregnant?!) and has absolutely horrible skin that is constantly red and breaking out. Most people think she's 40 (she's 30!) Yet she refuses to cut back on using all those products, she's convinced the next one she tries will work miracles for her.

  • Reply sudha elumalai May 31, 2014 at 8:48 am

    HI I use the same Thayer's Witch Hazel Rose Toner. It makes my skin so smooth is is great at removing makeup. I don't wash my face anymore either!

    Natural Facial Cleansers

  • Reply thefolia December 8, 2015 at 3:42 am

    Happy brushing, but do you use a soap to wash the brush?

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 8, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Just a mild castile soap every once in a while!

  • Reply shannon January 17, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    For the past six months, I’ve been in a skincare battle after going off the pill. Enter adult acne – ugh. Your natural beauty posts encourage me to keep trying new ideas before turning to chemical-laden options. Next steps: face brush and rosehip oil. Thanks for the ideas!

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