Part I: Are Facial Products Absolutely Necessary?

Published on Nov 15, 2017

Women and men spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on skincare products every year and there are always brands that come out with the latest products that claim to instantly give you bright, clear skin.

Are they really effective though?

We hear about the miraculously youthful 51-year old Chuando using only water to wash his face and it got us thinking if facial products are really absolutely necessary. 

What better way to find out than to do a real-life experiment? 

Hi! I'm Agent C.W. I'm always writing about hair because that's what I'm familiar with in the beauty world. I don't do my nails, wear makeup, or get my eyelashes/eyebrows done.

Agent G has been trying to get me to use moisturiser and sunscreen because I am always in the sun, but my skin is so sensitive that it reacts to everything. Like, everything. I have not found a moisturiser/sunscreen/serum/anything besides a cleanser that doesn't break me out. Hence, I try not to use a lot of facial products. After all, my skin is normal and clear, so I don't want to mess it up by constantly using products or trying it and getting a terrible allergy. FYI, I had a dry patch of skin on my face from a metal allergy that lasted for 4 months! Never again.

This got me thinking... do facial products actually work? 

I know it's just a sample of one (myself) but I'm thinking of doing an experiment to determine what happens to my skin if I use zero facial care and what happens when I do. In order to make it as accurate as I can, here are the steps I followed:

1) Stop using facial products totally for 1 month

2) With consultation from an experienced skin professional, I will then start using recommended facial products for yet another month to see if there is a visible difference in my skin. 

In this part 1 of the experiment, I'm going to share with you my results on using ONLY WATER to clean my face... only water and nothing else! Apparently, this is a valid facial routine and it's called the Caveman Routine.. simply because Cavemen obviously wouldn't have a full-on beauty routine. 

So here goes... wish me luck!


Before we start, I thought that I should first document how my face looked like so that you'd know what to expect. 

My normal skin on (left) and my skin after my dive trip (right). I had multiple insect bites and an uneven skin tone due to sun and sea exposure. I decided to try the routine after my dive trip since my skin was already spotty and I also had redness between my eyebrows caused by an allergic reaction, so I easily could see if it made it better or worse. 

I would say I have normal skin, not oily and not too dry that it is flaky, but I would say it leans towards the drier side because I don't feel any sebum when I touch my face. The texture is soft and smooth, but I do get occasional bumps when I go overseas or it's the time of the month.

It is also thankfully quite clear most of the time. 

Uneven Skin Tone from Sun Exposure

Week 1

With only one step in my routine, it was easy to kick that out and test the Caveman routine. I started the routine with a splash of water in the morning, wetting my face during the day and wiping off any dirt, and washing thoroughly at night. 

I'm sure you have had at least one day where you forgot your face wash or were too tired to wash it. It definitely felt weird at first. I found that using warm water and softly rubbing my face did the trick. I finished with cold water to close my pores.

My skin felt refreshed and not tight after every rinse. It did not feel dirty or clogged. My bites healed and my spots cleared up. I must say that my skin usually bounces back to normal after a few days so I am not sure if the lack of cleanser sped up the process or not. The first week went by like usual, so I forgot to even take pictures.

Week 2

In Week 2, I found that my skin looked its best. I was back to my normal skin and with the help of moisturiser on just the dry patch between my eyebrows, it cleared up too.

My skin still did not change in terms of smoothness, dryness, or oiliness. When I perspire or am out during the day, the area that gets some sebum is my nose. I found that with this routine, my nose did not get oily.

Under yellow lighting (left) and natural sunlight (right).

2 Weeks After Using Only Water to Wash Face

New hair thanks to 99 Percent... totally love the ash purple balayage

Read more about my experience at 99 Percent Hair Studio here.

Week 3

When I researched about the routine, the issue that popped up the most was texture. Many people that tried to routine explicitly said to exfoliate as they were left with rough textured skin that no longer reacted to moisturiser. Not wanting to over exfoliate, I used a face sponge once when I was sweatier.

Week 3 is where the weirdness I was warned about happened. Some bumps formed on my forehead and cheeks, the areas where I get reactions. These bumps usually occur when I test creams, lotions, moisturisers, or oils as they are too rich for my skin. I suspect that this happened due to oil sitting on my skin. However, it should be noted that I had my period that week, so hormonal bumps occur too. The cause can be determined by how fast my skin clears up as hormonal breakouts clear up within 1-3 days for me.

3 Weeks After Without Using Any Facial Product

Week 4

True enough, my skin did clear up slightly. My skin was at its peak in week 4. I was worried that prolonged use of just water would make my skin bad, but it was as good as usual. Exfoliating is the most important step when doing this routine!

My skin looked clear and less shiny as my sebum production definitely reduced. When I sweat I get some oil, but my skin is a lot less oily when I sweat after starting this routine. It regulated my sebum production while leaving my skin glowy and not tight.

The only problem I see is that the pores may be slightly bigger than before, maybe because water cannot clear the skin as well as usual cleansers. 

1 Month After Going Without Facial Product on Skin


You may throw eggs at me but I think that skin complexion has a lot to do with genetics, lifestyle and age... perhaps even more so than the facial products you use. 

If you drink a lot of water, go for adequate exercise, am not too stressed at work and am blessed with relatively OK genes, I suspect that caveman routine is sufficient, especially if you're around my age :D

As you can see, it seems to work relatively well for me. No major breakouts and my skin actually glowed more (maybe because my previous facial cleanser was not suitable... who knows?). I do have some blackheads which are very stubborn but it's not a major concern for me. 

This may not work for everyone though. I read reviews of other people trying the caveman routine. While some had good results, others took months for their skin to recover. I guess it really depends on the individual as it has got to do with age, genetics, habits, and the fact that I don't use any other products. Many people who get clogged pores use SPF and moisturiser daily so the water was not sufficient to cleanse their face. It depends on your skin and what works best.

Also, I would also like to add a disclaimer: I tried this for only a month. There could be longer-term effects I haven't seen yet but this is just based on my experience alone. Agent G cautioned me against going caveman for too long because she saw the effects on her 2nd sister who is in her 40s. Compared to her eldest and third sister who used varying amounts of facial products, her 2nd sister has a lot more wrinkles and facial lines because she did not use much facial products AT ALL in her life. No moisturizer and all in her 20s or 30s. When she began using facial oils and moisturizer with Agent G's advice, the wrinkles improved significantly. 

So that concludes the first part of my experiment. The second part now requires me to go to a facial salon to get my first facial done + use facial products for yet another month. Read on to find out if there are any changes to my facial condition!

Are you willing to try this out or are you on looking for your next facial appointment?

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