Skip to navigationSkip to content
REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
How to get clean without soap and water.
NO SCRUBS

The trick that beauty experts never reveal: Don’t wash your face

Noël Duan
Member exclusive by Noël Duan

Some of you may remember the #NoPoo movement, which, contrary to its worrisome name, is actually about not using shampoo. The idea is that traditional shampoos are fairly harsh on your hair and disrupt your scalp pH, so you just skip them altogether—washing your hair with just water instead. But what about washing your face—especially if you regularly wear sunscreen or makeup, or live in heavily polluted areas?

“I think you should wash your face twice a day,” New York City-based dermatologist, Sejal Shah, MD, explained on the phone. “As the day goes on, things build up on your skin. Plain tap water is not enough to get that off—and plain tap water can be very harsh on your skin.” She doesn’t mean you should start slashing your face with bottled water—many brands are too mineralized anyway—but she does think an inexpensive face cleanser is better than nothing.

Yet an informal conversation with my fellow female co-workers revealed that some of them—more than I can count on my fingers—don’t even wash their faces with soap and water. This shocked me as a beauty writer who’s always trying new ways to wash my face. Korean double cleansing, oil cleansing, foam cleansing, bar soap, electric sonic brushes, face wipes, crying over the kitchen sink—I’ve done it all (particularly since I suffer from acne).