Photo by Mitya Ku on flickr. license: attribution-sharealike
If you’ve ever had problems with your skin, and even if you haven’t, you are probably familiar with facial products. Moisturizers, cleansers, exfoliators, poor refiners, toners; the list is really endless. Like many people, I grew up with cystic acne. It was drilled into me early that having acne meant your skin needed to be kept as clean as possible (as recommended by my doctors and dermatologists). I spent most of my teenage years vigorously scrubbing, washing, moisturizing, picking, and popping my acne to no avail.
One day I stumbled across some information on the internet that had the exact opposite approach. It said that all those face products can make acne worse! At first I thought it sounded crazy, but the more I read about it, the more it made sense! Thousands of years ago people didn’t spend hours per week washing and obsessing over their skin, and acne was very rare in those days (you can read here on why this is). So, I gave it a try and it definitely helped my skin!
Here is an outline of what the caveman regimen is and how to get started.
What is the Caveman Regimen?
The caveman regimen is a skin care routine that isn’t much of a routine at all. It involves avoiding touching, rubbing, or picking your face or pimples, and avoiding the use of most or all facial products such as cleansers, moisturizers, toners, etc.
How Can Washing your Face Contribute to Acne?
Our skin has what is known as an ‘acid mantle’ which is a coating of sweat and sebum that helps protect our body from harmful bacteria. It is known as an acid mantle because our skins natural pH is slightly acidic (source). We also have beneficial bacteria that live on our skin (similar to the friendly bacteria in our colon and other parts of body). Using harsh face washes (which are often anti-bacterial) will cause bacteria, oil, and pH imbalances of the skin, which can worsen and even cause acne. This is similar to how taking antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals affects your colon; causing bacterial imbalances such as candida overgrowth.
How does the Caveman Regimen work?
It works in a few ways. For starters, not picking your face will give your body the opportunity to heal properly. Pimples aren’t supposed to be popped, and popping and picking at your skin causes delayed healing and scarring. It also works by restoring natural oils, pH, and bacteria to the skin. These guys work together to help keep harmful bacteria out of your pores which can cause acne in the first place. Lastly, your skin easily absorbs the harsh chemicals that are contained in most conventional facial products, so eliminating these from your routine will reduce your body’s overall chemical load. This will help your body from the inside out!
How do You Quit the Habit of Picking and Popping?
Many people don’t realize that picking, popping pimples, and even washing can become a compulsion. This means that you can’t help but pick your face even when you try not to. If not touching or washing your face at all sounds difficult you may be dealing with a compulsion. If you notice you have other similar compulsive habits you may want to consider talking to a doctor or a therapist as this could be a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
The best thing to do when trying to stop a habit is to try and document when and where you feel the urge arise. The first few days of trying to not touch/pick/pop/wash will be difficult but it is doable and you will feel great once you break the cycle! Read more on how to stop compulsions here.
Photo by Mitya Ku on flickr. license: attribution-sharealike
Customize the Caveman Regimen to work for you!
Not everybody will succeed in going 100% free of washing and face products, and that is OK! The most important part of the caveman regimen is being more mindful of what you are doing to your skin, and eliminating harmful chemicals from your daily routine. If eliminating all products from your routine does not seem feasible, make sure that the products you are using on your face and body are free of harmful chemicals. You can check out my guide to non-toxic personal care products here!
If you are going to try the caveman regimen, wearing make-up daily won’t really work, but that doesn’t mean you can never wear make-up. Wearing it occasionally should not aggrevate you skin, as long as you make sure you are using make-up that is free of harsh chemicals such as Ultrapure Cosmetics.
Some people may have a difficult time eliminating moisturizers all together, but the good news is that you don’t have to! I have combination skin and still use moisturizers because my skin can feel quite dry otherwise. I am currently loving 100% Pure’s line of facial moisturizers for this. I use their Lycopene Face Cream for the day, and their Superfruits Night Balm before bed. These moisturizers are packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants, so they can help heal acne scars as well.
So keep in mind that doing the caveman regimen 100% is not the only way to do it! If you are more interested in doing the strict version of the caveman regimen, I recommend you read this article by the Love Vitamin.
The Caveman Regimen is Not a Miracle Cure
The caveman regime is a great approach to try out especially if you use a lot of conventional face products on a daily basis. However, it isn’t guaranteed to cure your acne. This is because most skin problems stem from problems inside the body such as poor diet, poor digestion, allergies, or other internal issues. To truly fix your acne you will need to work on other healthy lifestyle factors such as proper diet, adequate exercise, adequate sleep, and avoiding stress as well. For skin conditions I would recommend starting out with a simple whole food diet such as clean eating and if your acne persists then move towards a more strict diet such as paleo or the autoimmune protocol (AIP). It would be best to make an appointment with a naturopath or an RHN to get a diet and lifestyle plan tailored to your personal requirements and health goals. The caveman regimen will work synergistically with a proper diet and other healthy lifestyle factors to help clear your skin for good! If you are interested in reading more on how to clear your skin naturally, you can check out my ebook here!
So what are your thoughts on the caveman regime? Would you be willing to try it?
Please leave any additional questions or concerns in the comments!