Updated: Apr 14
The Start Of It All
The same Aveeno face wash I picked up when I was 12 currently sits in my skincare bin on my bathroom shelf at 22. It's always kept my breakouts tamable and my complexion at its "best", you know, for a teenager.
As a self-appointed beauty editor I've taken it upon myself to try a range of facial cleansers and read up on reviews and ingredients of competing cleansers to know the in's and out's of a "good" cleanser.
Just so the information is out there, I mostly have oily/combination skin that isn't sensitive or acne-prone. So trying new products never effects me harshly and luckily allows the opportunity to explore freely in the skincare aisles.
Like majority of the female population in 2020, I stopped wearing makeup completely, or almost completely in some cases. It's an unnecessary bother at this point with the mask and all the transferring. Exhaustion.
Combined with my uncontrollable binge of artificial sugars and processed confections in an attempt to cope with the unannounced pandemic. That unleashed a terror of cystic blemishes and boils across my once pristine canvas.
If I'm being completely honest here--and I totally am so please give me a round of applause for my bravery--I just stopped washing my face. The shock! The horror! The betrayal! I know.
I internally cry at night when I think of how far I have fallen on the beauty spectrum. But I discovered minimalist beauty (through pure laziness) and it is truly humbling. Hear me out, stay with me.
I haven't touched a facial cleanser to my face in a calendar month; and before then I was sparingly using a cleanser 1-3 times weekly since roughly January. For almost 5 years I have used my platform to preach, scold, and beat it into women's heads that they must wash their face everyday twice a day to correct their biggest skin concerns.
"It's about discovering your one true pair with your facial cleanser," I would insist. I was immensely wrong.
Our bodies are built with the necessary nutrients and processes to cleanse, exfoliate, and hydrate our largest organ. It's such a no brainer we literally overthink it to the maximum.
Sebum is needed to retain elasticity and buoyancy which allows your skin to snap back on its own. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in the body and we aren't participating in too many activities that deplete the nutrient from our systems.
When I started religiously wearing SPF my skin tone and complexion evened out. Dark marks faded into almost oblivion. Not a single need for a retinol or brightening vitamin c cream.
And pores?? What are pores? We no longer know her. If you someone told 14-year-old Amanda she would be pore free in less than 10 years by not washing her face, she would flip her shit and call you a liar.
And yet she would still be just as amazed as I am.
The Foolery Exposed
We were all fooled by capitalists to believe our pores are too large, the "crows feet" by our eyes are unattractive, and the invisible-to-the-naked-eye facial hair can be shaved for "optimal cell development". And here they are, our shining heroes with a product to make it all better.
Girl, the hair is supposed to be there. Skin is supposed to fold. We all know you aren't getting younger by the day so stop trying to hide it. There are only superficial reasons for wanting to correct those things, nothing legitimately beneficial.
My beauty journalist muse and self-appointed mentor, Jessica Defino, said it best in her Beauty Is Meaningless post on her blog, "the beauty industry at large has a language problem".
What Jessica is referring to is the dialogue between producer and consumer. The skincare industry has dedicated the last 4 decades to building rapport with "clean", "non-comedogenic", "FDA-approved" (a TOTAL lie), and "anti-aging" to name a few.
Beauty industry terminology is one of the first ways companies get us to shop with them. Common terms are regurgitated throughout the industry through articles, bloggers, products, services offered, and beauty communities which then circulate to more sectors, creating billion-dollar trends in less than a calendar year.
"Dermatologist recommended", "certified clean", "certified organic", "hypoallergenic".
Basically anything they think you want to hear to buy their product, they will say. To be clear, no cosmetic is FDA approved unless it contains an active ingredient, like sunscreen or salicylic acid for example. The FDA doesn't even define "clean" or "non-toxic" in legal circumstances regarding cosmetics.
I considered this idea along with the point that if these skincare products with the best of the best ingredients and practices were so effective we wouldn't keep recreating them. There would be no need for brands to pop up every week with their own spin on what clean or eco-conscious actually is.
So I simply stopped participating. Cold turkey.
I stopped wanting to correct things. My adult acne was more cystic, and I'm a picker. Every night and morning in 2020 I was zoomed into my bathroom mirror as close as I could get without knocking my glasses in the reflection. It was a compulsion that began in quarantine because, well, there was nothing better to do!
My skin began scarring horribly and I kept turning to all of my cleansers, exfoliates, moisturizers, serums, and masks to "regulate" my skin and get it back to looking and feeling amazing; but, the more I did the worse things became.
After months of effort I finally said I didn't care. No one sees my skin anyway under this mask when I'm in public so I'm really the only one that will have to look at it. Then I stopped cleansing my face altogether.
"I’ve never loved my skin more."
The once 9-step routine--I worked incredibly hard in 2019 and 2020 to build that 12-step skincare routine that K-beauty started--became 3 steps overnight.
In one month my skin did a complete 180 flip. Breakouts phased into one or two blemishes every month, pores shrunk, sebum production regulated, and my dark marks and scars smoothed into an even complexion. I’ve never loved my skin more.
What Does This Mean Now?
Will I ever return to washing my face with a cleanser? I can't answer that yet. As of this moment, I see no need to return to what wasn't working for my skin.
The products I have kept in my routine are not here to stay, they are just leftover from what I had.
One thing I do know is that when the time for me to replenish my beauty goods comes I will be shopping with smaller brands. Brands that I can personally research and support as they usually are connected to a good cause.
It's important for me to live a better life that is beneficial to my surrounding environment. I work at that every day by finding a new initiative, brand, organization, or alternative to my natural ways.
By doing just that I was able to reveal my best self when I looked in the mirror.