The surprising lessons from my week without skincare

The surprising lessons from my week without skincare

After a recent camping trip, I made an accidental discovery that has changed how I view the beauty industry. Young girls are told from an early age that you must cleanse, tone and moisturise twice daily to maintain a clear and youthful complexion. Add to that the tireless regimen of makeup application and that’s a whole lot of effort, just for being a girl!

Back to my camping trip. I like to go full feral in nature. As soon as the tent goes up, social standards go down. I don’t shower, I don’t wash my face, my hair, I wear the bare minimum amount of clothing required to avoid being arrested for indecent exposure and drink my body weight in beer.


I have always had pretty rank skin. Adult acne is so much fun. I have spent thousands of dollars on wonder creams, scrubs, facials and what have you. Hence the shock to see that five days going bush without product or makeup, cleared my skin completely. Especially given all the delightful toxins I was loading up on. But my skin wasn’t just clear of spots, it was smooth as a baby’s bum. I couldn’t believe it.

So, I thought I would conduct an experiment. A whole week sans facial products.  Monday through to Wednesday, I was flying high. My skin was still so fricken smooth and not a single pimple in sight. Then Thursday happened. Broke out like a bitch. All over my nose and forehead. But like a good scientist, I continued my experiment. The gross pimples calmed down and by Saturday they had cleared again.

Not going to lie, Sunday I scrubbed the shit out of my skin, put a face mask on and a super thick night cream before I went to bed. I felt a bit dirty and I think it was more a psychological need that needed to be fulfilled rather than a dermatological one.

The surprising lessons from my week without skincare

Given my total lack of knowledge in the field of dermatology, I spoke to a few people that actually know skin. A dermatologist that chose to remain anonymous (like the dentist flogging Oral-B. Remember Rob?) had a chat with me and shed some light on the truth about skin care.

  • It’s all in the genes: Genetics play a huge role in your skin tone and ageing process. My 67-year-old mama has never put a drop of cleanser on her gorgeous Mediterranean skin and she looks fab. I should also point out that mum has never drunk alcohol or smoked a cigarette in her life. So, while genetic predisposition plays a role in the kind of skin you have, your habits and lifestyle choices could wreak havoc on your face.
  • You need to go deep: The whole cleanse, tone and moisturise bombast doesn’t really stack up. The only real way to make a difference to your face is to penetrate deep enough to go beyond the already dead layers of skin. If you want to grab a white coat and learn more about the science behind it, these guys do it way better. In a nutshell, look for products that have a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) number which means the product has undergone scientific testing. I dare say a scientific claim is more reliable than “8 out of ten women swear by this product”.
  • Anti-ageing cream isn’t a thing: I’m just going to leave this quote from a real-life doctor here: “Despite the claims on many bottles, the truth is that science has yet to find a single ingredient or product that can slow or reverse the ageing process. The overwhelming majority of anti-ageing creams, toning creams, firming creams, anti-wrinkle creams, eye creams, and night creams are formulated to increase the water content of skin thereby temporarily reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.” —Fayne Frey, MD

Having dumped this bombshell on you all, here’s my two cents. Upon completion of my experiment, I have gone back to washing my face. Mostly because I live on the sun and I exercise regularly and I just feel a bit gross. I’m still not wearing any makeup, but to be fair, I never wore much anyway. Also, not a single damn person noticed I wasn’t wearing makeup (it’s been three weeks!).

Instead of washing and moisturising with high end products twice daily, I wash my face once in the morning and put on a tiny bit of SPF30 moisturiser. Total price of current skincare routine: $4.50. Thanks Aldi.

My skin still looks great (by my adult acne, scarred as shit, standards) and I am saving enough money to buy a house.

Ultimately, it’s about doing what makes you feel good. I figure skin care is kind of like fashion, if it makes you feel good, you keep doing you!

Written By

Suzi is a stay at home writer/editor/homemaker and maker of humans. After years in the debaucherous media industry, she never dreamed of a domesticated life caring for small people. She is also editorial director of

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