Style + Beauty

Why the 'caveman regimen' is a scary example of beauty advice gone wrong

The 'caveman regimen' is a skincare trend that originated online, but experts say it can cause more harm than good.

The 'caveman regimen' is a skincare trend that originated online, but experts say it can cause more harm than good.  (iStock)

Several years ago, a strange beauty trend called the “caveman regimen” began circulating on the internet: Proponents claimed that following the regimen — which involved avoiding all skincare products — was the key to avoiding acne.

Though the trend didn’t receive widespread attention, it never really died out, either. Earlier this week, Refinery29 published an article titled “What Is The Caveman Regimen?” renewing interest in the skincare “hack” and bringing widespread attention to the hands-off routine.

According to wellness blog The Love Vitamin the “caveman regimen” requires “[not doing] anything at all to your skin. No cleansers, no moisturizers, no toners, no picking, no face full of makeup, no nothing. And you don’t wash your face… you just let your skin heal and return to its natural self.” Skincare products, the blog claims, can disrupt the skin’s natural balance and lead to acne.

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Unfortunately, there’s little truth to this claim. As dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., told Refinery29, “There is no good data showing that people who wash their faces get less acne than people who don’t.” This is because acne doesn’t have just one cause — everything from stress to genetics play a factor in determining the health of the skin.

In fact, regular cleansing is important to keeping it (and you) healthy: As Bustle reported, neglecting to wash your face can actually damage the skin, causing breakouts, premature aging, and even — in rare cases — infections, especially if bacteria or other irritants get into the eyes, nose or mouth.

Most importantly, following the “caveman regimen” requires forgoing all skin products — including sunscreen. As the Skin Cancer Foundation reported, daily use of SPF 15 or higher “reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 40%, and the risk of developing melanoma by 50%.” The latter causes 10,000 deaths annually — 86% of which can be prevented with regular use of broad-spectrum sunscreen.

The bottom line is this: When it comes to skincare, do what feels right for you. But before adopting a new regimen, no matter how harmless (or trendy) it seems, always check with a doctor to ensure it’s safe — because sadly, you can’t trust what you read on the internet.