Recently, Daily Mail writer Anna Pursglove made a science experiment of her own face when she challenged herself to leave her face unwashed for 30 days … and accepted.
Under the rules of her experiment, Pursglove was permitted to rinse her face in the shower each day, but not apply any makeup remover, soap, or cleanser of any kind. She also had to continue her regular makeup regime as much as possible. I know what you’re thinking … gross, and you wouldn’t be alone. NY Magazine writer Allison Davis found the idea down-right revolting:
“Let’s stop and really consider this undertaking: a woman, of her own will, applied makeup, went out into the dirty world, came back home, went to sleep, woke up, maybe applied more makeup, and repeated the routine, every day for 30 days.”
…If anything, this woman’s experiment demonstrates that if you avoid basic hygiene for 30 days, your eyes get smaller, your skin looks older, and people think you’re disgusting.”
The thing is, I think there’s a really important message in Pursglove’s before and after photos, because at least for me, once I became a parent, my self-care routine was the first thing I kicked to the curb. Even as I write this, I’ve clothed and fed my child and deposited her at school, but I haven’t washed my face yet. Thirty days of unwashed face? I don’t think I’ve ever made it that far, but as I discussed the experiment with friends and fellow moms even in my beauty-obsessed hometown of Los Angeles, it became clear that I wasn’t alone in going a day or two between makeup removals. Which, I know … totally gross, but sometimes at the end of the day I’m just SO TIRED that the idea of washing my face doesn’t even enter my mind before my head hits the pillow.
What was Anna’s own conclusion? She didn’t leave it to the eyes alone; she had her before and afters done by 3D scientific imaging to give her dermatologist’s scientific feedback on the experiment:
“The experts estimated that my skin was biologically approximately a decade older than before I began my no-cleansing experiment. This proved what my mirror reflected: my face genuinely has aged by as much as ten years in a month, and all because I didn’t take my make-up off.
I’m terrified that the damage might be permanent. Have I ruined my skin – and my looks – for ever?
Fortunately, Harley Street cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting reassured me. ‘You won’t have done any meaningful damage in four weeks,’ she said. ‘But long-term avoidance of cleansing while continuing to wear make-up could be detrimental to your skin in the long-run. ‘The biggest issue is the accumulation of environmental pollutants, which drive the generation of free radicals. ‘These contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the structures that underpin youthful skin. While these structures deteriorate with age, you don’t want to do anything to speed up that process,’ she adds”
Well, I’m convinced. Cleansing is the #1 thing we can do to preserve our skin. I think I’ll be making face-washing a priority again.
(So if you’ll excuse me…)