When You Stop Using Soap, This Is What Happens To Your Body

If you're someone who has struggled with skin issues and has tried an avalanche of products all promising to restore your skin to a clear, natural radiance, it may be worth trying an unexpected path — that basically just means leaving your skin alone to fend for itself.

There is a strong and growing movement of people who have ditched soaps, body washes and facial cleansers, to find not just more money in their wallets, but also healthier, clearer skin. Just like our guts, our skin has its own microbiome — a vast collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi — that work together in a complicated harmony to nourish and heal the skin, as well as protect it from harmful factors.

When we constantly scrub our faces using soaps and cleansers, we are stripping not only the good bacteria that our skin needs, but its protective oils, too. If your skin feels 'tight' after washing, or if it's dry or flaking, it may be a sign that it's time for a vacation from skincare products (via Allure).

Using less cleanser could lead to healthier skin

Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist, says "Every time you wash your face, you strip your skin of some oil. Over-washing can compromise the skin barrier function" (Well + Good). In response, our skin tries to restore its optimal pH by producing even more oil. And it's not just skin cleansers that are to blame. Long, hot showers, chlorinated water, and sugar-heavy diets all add their own wear and tear to the skin's microbiome.

Of course, not everyone is ready or willing to ditch their 10-step skincare regimen in favor of a water-only (or raw honey — really, it's a thing!) rinse. But dermatologists agree that, really, armpits and groins are the only body parts that actually need a daily cleanse. As for face-washing, a water-only rinse in the morning, followed by a wash using a gentle cleanser in the evening to remove makeup and pollutants is probably enough.

Athena Hewett, aesthetician and founder of Monastery skin care, says "There isn't a need to rewash our face in the morning as there isn't anything to remove such as makeup or sunscreen. The natural oil our bodies produce is good for our skin — it provides a first defense barrier for the external factors of the day."