Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

How to wash your face without a drop of water (and why)

There’s been a lot of drought talk in the news lately, and for good reason because California is basically on a fast track to becoming the next Sahara Desert.

But Kristen Bell has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and Neutrogena Naturals to help us all conserve more water during Earth Month. The campaign challenges you to wash your face without water for seven days, instead asking you to cleanse with wipes or other dry cleansing products.

So, that only begs one key question. Is it good for your skin? Put in more vain terms — do you have to sacrifice your skin to help conserve valuable environmental resources? The answer is: It’s complicated.

Annie Jackson, the VP of Merchandising at Credo Beauty, an online natural beauty product retailer, points out, “Most conventional soaps and cleansers have wonderful suds we have become so accustomed to called surfactants.” These so-called surfactants break down oils and fats on your skin, which, as Jackson helps us understand, only sounds good. Stripping them away is not ideal because you’re robbing your skin of the oils it needs and replacing it with surfactants that your skin doesn’t need. Therefore, it’s not the worst idea to move away from your normal cleansing routine.

NYC dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner lets us in on a secret that yes, it’s OK to cleanse without water. “Especially in some people who have dry, sensitive skin, water can actually be drying,” he says. “Excessive water can paradoxically lead to skin dryness by stripping the skin of essential oils.”

But before you go home and break up with your face wash, dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman thinks you’ll be missing benefits of thorough cleansing by switching to a waterless routine and really only recommends this on a regular basis if you have extremely sensitive skin that can’t handle traditional cleansers.

One product with a home in my beauty bag lately is Fig + Yarrow’s Cleansing Nectar (Credo Beauty, $12). It’s a foamless, waterless face cleanser that’s perfect for a gentle (and fast) face wash sesh, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t wear a lot of makeup and doesn’t need a ton of foaming bells and whistles (erm, surfactants) in your skin care.

More: 11 Things that happen when you go makeup-free in public

Towelettes are 99 percent effective, according to clinical studies done by Neutrogena. So, does this mean if we can make it a goal to get 1 percent less dirty than normal, we’re in the clear? Just kidding. Although, I might be on to something there. Hopefully, science is reading this.

Zeichner admits, “Cleansing towelettes are effective but may not provide as deep a clean as other traditional cleansers.” But here’s the other thing…

You really only need to be washing you face once a day unless you have really oily skin (which, keep in mind, could be really oily because your harsh cleanser is stripping away the oils and causing your skin to overproduce — see paragraph 4). You could be creating the vicious cleansing cycle for yourself and a little break from traditional cleansing could be just the skin reset button you’ve been looking for.

More skin care

7 Strange beauty products you should be using
Gel manicures are not as bad as we thought
How to clean your makeup brushes in under 5 minutes

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.