I Skipped Face Soap Like a Supermodel For a Week

Read any interview with a super model, and you’re sure to roll your eyes.

First off, so many of them say shit like, “oh, I eat whatever I want, I have to have a cheeseburger every day.” But aside from the ridiculous things they say about their diets, there’s another unrealistic thing they always mention in interviews.

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“In the morning, I wash my face with cold water… That’s it,” proclaims Marine Deleeuw in a W story about her “classic French beauty routine.”

L’Oreal’s newest brand ambassador, Maria Borges also swears by just cold water, although she uses a special Beauty Water too.

To me, this sounded ridiculous. How could water clean your pores if it can’t even clean gunk off your hands half of the time? I’ve never had bad acne, but I’ve still washed my face with a cleanser twice a day since I hit puberty.

I thought this cold water thing was just another model fib to sound chill in interviews. But after my editor polled her Facebook friends about this low-key water face-wash, we were surprised to find that a lot of people swore by it. In fact, many people said that switching from a cleanser to just water helped their acne to disappear.

“I had horrible, embarrassing even, acne throughout high school and even early college,” explained Lauren Philpot. “[I] tried everything. The second I stopped washing my face with product and just let it ride with water, my skin cleared up. I think it has a lot to do with sensitivity to ingredients in all of the products out there.”

Okay, so I guess the water thing really does work for some people. But would it work for me? I decided to try it out myself to see what all the hype was about.

Typically, I have dry skin that isn’t prone to acne except occasionally before my period. Even then, it’s usually one or two pimples max. When I agreed to switch to just water, my face had already been feeling more oily than usual. This wasn’t a bad thing, because it meant I wouldn’t have to moisturize my face 2+ times in the morning, but it was different.

I switched to just using cold water, but I still used makeup wipes to get rid of mascara streaks because otherwise I never would. A couple of days later, I immediately felt acne forming on my chin. Not lit.

Going a week without using any sort of cleanser and instead opting for just cold water didn’t make my face break out like a pizza, but I’ve never been prone to acne, so I wouldn’t expect that. It did make me break out a couple of times and my skin felt much more oily. I’m definitely not going to continue using the cold water method (sorry models, ya broke), but going cleanser-free for a week did make me rethink my skincare routine. I could definitely use a gentler cleanser that hopefully wouldn’t dry my face out so much, and I could also probably get away with just washing my face in the evenings instead of twice a day.

Meanwhile, our senior editor, Molly Mulshine, had a different experience.

Molly’s been skipping the face wash for about a week, too, and is probably going to keep going. She had a pretty serious cystic pimple at the beginning of the experiment. But after just two cold-water-washes, the thing was dehydrated.

There are a few key differences. Unlike my dry-skinned self, Molly has oily, acne-prone skin with big pores (her words, not mine).

“I’ve been a lifetime devotee of the Clinique three-step program so I’m honestly shocked that my face is responding so well to this,” Molly said. “But my pores finally look smaller and my face seems much more glowy. Plus, I’m not getting the full-forehead oil slicks around 1 p.m. each day that I’d normally have.”

And instead of makeup wipes, Molly’s using her trusty Caudalie makeup-removing oil before she splashes with the cold water at night and in the morning. This definitely helps get rid of the makeup and rinse all the bad oils and old products away.

She confesses that about three times over the past week, her face still felt full of gunk so she used a little bit of her old Clinique soap to make sure all the old product was washed away. But all in all, she’s probably going to keep foregoing soap for most washes.

So, in conclusion, it looks like the soap-free cleansing method could work for some people and not others. In our experience, our oily-skinned tester had much better results than the one with dry skin.

Keep in mind if you want to try this yourself that if you need to remove makeup, plain old water’s not going to do the trick — you need to use something else for that, like the Caudalie oil. Sorry.

As for that super model diet that consists of cheeseburgers on the daily? Sign me up!

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