I Tried It: The Skin Cleanse (aka what happened when I quit all of my skincare and makeup products for 3 full days) | picklesnhoney.com #skincare #makeup #beauty #cleanse

I Tried It: The Skin Cleanse

I Tried It: The Skin Cleanse (aka what happened when I quit all of my skincare and makeup products for 3 full days) | picklesnhoney.com #skincare #makeup #beauty #cleanse

For a while I’ve been wanting to share more in-depth and personal posts on Pickles & Honey that are related to food and wellness, but more lifestyle-based—things I’m currently learning or trying to figure out that maybe you’re trying to navigate too? In the spirit of sharing more of myself with you, I’m kicking off a new series that I’m really excited about. I’m calling it “I Tried It,” and today I’m talking about the thing that tends to always throw me a curveball just when I think I know what I’m doing: skincare.

Note: The photos are of my actual bathroom shelves. I bought everything you see and nothing was gifted or sponsored. A few of the products are Aaron’s (he’s a true minimalist and his skin is pretty much always great, go figure).

I Tried It: The Skin Cleanse (aka what happened when I quit all of my skincare and makeup products for 3 full days) | picklesnhoney.com #skincare #makeup #beauty #cleanse

I recently read a book called Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore, who’s the founder of S.W. Basics. I’ve yet to try any of the S.W. Basics products, but her book spoke to me at a time when I started feeling like my once minimalist skincare and makeup routine had become a little overwhelming with the sheer number of products I was using—”clean” or otherwise. I noticed I was getting caught up in the consumerism of things like Instagram stories, YouTube videos, and the black hole that is Sephora. I was spending too much money and feeling like too much of a consumer, and my skin was actually looking worse for it.

A little background before we dive into my skin cleanse: I have reactive and sensitive skin that’s prone to freaking out either immediately when I try a new product, or 1-2 months after I’ve incorporated it into my routine. When my skin is happy, I rarely break out, but when it’s the slightest bit off, I get cystic pimples (most often on my chin/jawline) that can take weeks to heal. To give you an example: a handful of years ago I tried to completely green-ify my skincare and quit things like benzoyl peroxide, so I started cleansing and moisturizing with jojoba oil (which I had been using in small amounts for years) and using baking soda to exfoliate, per the recommendations of what seemed like the entire internet at the time. This 2-step process gave me amazing skin the first few weeks and loads of compliments from the people around me, and then seemingly overnight I clogged every pore on my once-clear face. It took me 4 absolutely brutal, soul-crushing months to purge the damage and I still have some of the scars today. (So please, please, please don’t use baking soda on your face, okay? The ph is all wrong.)

Per the Skin Cleanse book, I needed to follow 4 steps:

Step 1: Keep a Product Journal
This is just like a food journal, except you record everything you put on your body.

Step 2: Think About Your Makeup
What are you using that’s expired? Do you really need 20 kinds of lip balm?

Step 3: Break Your Addiction
No personal care products for at least 1 full day, except toothpaste. 🙂

Step 4: Revisit Your Old Routine
And hopefully pare it back to only the items you love and that are working for you.

I Tried It: The Skin Cleanse (aka what happened when I quit all of my skincare and makeup products for 3 full days) | picklesnhoney.com #skincare #makeup #beauty #cleanse

My Product Journal
These were the products I was using at the time, and my once-happy skin was starting to feel bumpy and congested. I’ve labeled the newer-to-me products and linked them, if you’re curious. Not all of them are vegan (a few include beeswax).

Osmia Organics bar soap
Tom’s of Main Whole Care Fluoride Toothpaste
Acne.org Cleanser
100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (new-ish product)
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel (new-ish product)
Juice Beauty CC Cream SPF 30
Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation
RMS Beauty “Un” Powder
Vapour Organic Beauty Multi-Use (for lips and cheeks)
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Mascara
Hurraw! Lip Balm
Bite Beauty Lipstick
Acure Organics Simply Unscented Cocoa Butter & CoQ10 body lotion
Rahua Classic Shampoo & Conditioner
365 Brand Virgin Organic Coconut Oil (mascara remover)
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (new-ish product)
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
Acure Organics Marula Oil (new-ish product)
Eco-Dent Fluoride-Free Tooth Powder

For me, this is waaaay too many products! As soon as I wrote out all of the many things I was using, I realized that it was no wonder my skin started to rebel.

Pre-Skin Cleanse
After my workout the night before, I hopped in the shower and washed my face (twice) with Acne.org face wash to remove my makeup, used Osmia Organics soap on my body, and washed my hair with Rahua shampoo (I skipped the conditioner). I used a little coconut oil on a q-tip to remove the last bit of mascara under my eyes. Afterwards, my face felt tight, my lips were dry, and my forehead was itchy at first. I really wanted to slather on some face oil, but my skin quickly went back to feeling “normal” and balanced within 20 minutes.

Skin Cleanse Day 1
I was anxious to look in the mirror for fear of what had happened to my face overnight, but I woke up with surprisingly balanced skin! It didn’t feel overly dry or oily. There weren’t any new pimples (despite it being that time of the month, hooray!). The pimple I’d had on my chin was still there (and a deeper shade of red), but it wasn’t painful.

I washed my hands with Osmia bar soap, brushed my teeth (with toothpaste), then splashed warm water on my face for 1 minute, per the Skin Cleanse book’s instructions. My face felt strangely oily and the water beaded up. But after I patted it dry, my skin felt surprisingly good (and clean!).

By mid-afternoon I felt a little oily in my t-zone, in part because it was hot and humid, and Aaron and I had taken the dogs on a long walk. I blotted with a paper towel and felt better.

At night, I took a shower and used the Osmia bar soap on my body, didn’t wash my hair (I’m on a 4-5 day shampoo cycle), and washed my face with Acne.org face wash (cheating on the cleanse, I suppose?). I could have tried skipping the bar soap and washing my face with water only, but I live in Boston and the air feels grimy to me, especially in summer. I feel like I need to wash off the city at the end of the day, especially because I have lots of environmental allergies (pollen, mold, cats, and yes—dogs too). I brushed and flossed (side note: I’ve been using some fun Cocofloss in the strawberry flavor as incentive, and it’s actually helped me form a daily floss habit). My skin felt balanced and the brevity of my skincare routine was incredibly refreshing. Is this what it’s like to be a guy??

Skin Cleanse Days 2 & 3
Because I was feeling so good, I kept up my skin cleanse routine for a couple more days to see what would happen. Unfortunately, my skin started getting a few tiny whiteheads, which never happens. I couldn’t tell if it was purging or if I’m someone who needs to wash her face twice a day, so I ended my experiment. I started reintroducing some of the products (that haven’t caused any issues in the past), and stopped using all of the Drunk Elephant line. I have a suspicion that their vitamin C serum (and maybe the gel moisturizer) in particular was clogging my pores and giving me a weird bumpy texture, despite loving their Sukari Babyfacial in the past. I also think marula oil may be too heavy for my skin. I felt like it was just sitting there and not absorbing.

I Tried It: The Skin Cleanse (aka what happened when I quit all of my skincare and makeup products for 3 full days) | picklesnhoney.com #skincare #makeup #beauty #cleanse

Today, my new Product Journal looks something like this:

Osmia Organics bar soap
Tom’s of Main Whole Care Fluoride Toothpaste
Acne.org Cleanser
Acne.org Moisturizer (my “I know this won’t break me out” moisturizer)
Juice Beauty CC Cream SPF 30
Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Mascara
Acure Organics Simply Unscented Cocoa Butter & CoQ10 body lotion (great for eczema-prone skin, FYI)
Rahua Classic Shampoo
Virgin Organic Coconut Oil (for removing mascara only—I’m confident this would break me out if I applied it anywhere else on my face)
May Lindstrom The Problem Solver (a long-time favorite and great once a week for gently de-congesting skin)
Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel (I used these for a year before I switched to Drunk Elephant—cut in half because they are spendy—with excellent results for keeping clogged pores and hyperpigmentation at bay, so I’m reintroducing them again. The Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum has a cult following, but I’m starting to think it wasn’t right for me.)
Cocokind MyMatcha Stick (this one is new-to-me for lips and eyes; it’s too early to tell if it’s a keeper, but so far I really like it and you can’t beat the food-grade ingredients.)

My Takeaways

I 100% recommend doing a Skin Cleanse. If the thought of not using your personal products and makeup for one day gives you anxiety (and let’s be honest—it did for me), all the more reason to do it and break your addiction. That first day I felt really self-conscious being out and about without makeup and a big ol’ pimple on my chin in plain sight, but you know what? No one else cared! And so I started to care less too.

I don’t have my new skincare routine 100% figured out right now, and for the last couple of weeks my usual breakout spots have been purging—all of the spots with texture are clearing out in waves. It’s one of those “it will get worse before it gets better” situations that’s tough in the moment, especially because my skin was mostly happy before I started introducing new things. The Alpha Beta peel pads I re-introduced have acids and retinol, which is intensifying but hopefully expediting the purge process.

I’m doing my best not to get sucked into the next latest-and-greatest miracle product and imposing a “nothing new” rule. I’m also being more mindful of other factors like stress, hormones, drinking enough water, and the foods I’m eating (because dairy and refined sugar wreak havoc on my skin). I know you’ve heard this a million times, but I’ve found that it’s true: drinking lots of filtered water is key, even when you think that you’re not thirsty. As an added bonus, I find that when I’m well-hydrated, my sugar cravings are almost non-existent.

Ingredient-wise, my skincare products aren’t all as “clean” as I’d like them to be and I’m going to stop beating myself up over that. For now, it feels like a relief to simply be using less stuff. And I love that I’m not using an exfoliator that makes me feel like I need a new moisturizer that makes me feel like I need a new face mask, etc. That’s a terrible cycle to get caught up in.

Slowly but surely I’m learning that either a product works with your skin, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, you should stop using it. (Yes, even if you dropped an embarrassing amount of money on it.)



Leave a Comment

  1. Erin says

    Amanda! Can I just say how much I love this post? It’s such an honest and refreshing look into the more personal side of your lifestyle, and I love all things skincare and seeing what others are liking. Your bathroom shelves are so organized! I’ve been wanting to try a few of the products you mentioned like the Rahua shampoo and the May Lindstom clay mask. I think I’ll take the plunge based on your post. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the positive feedback, Erin! I’m really happy to hear that you enjoyed this post. 🙂 I’ve been using both of the products you mentioned for the last handful of years with zero negative reactions—only positive. I highly, highly recommend Rahua and May Lindstrom.

  2. Paige says

    I feel like we have the same skin! Mine is verrry sensitive and sometimes products that have been working will suddenly cause an allergic reaction like hives. I did a plant-based cleanse a few years ago and cut out gluten and it seemed to get better, but it’s hard to know if it was actually the gluten or because I was eating really “clean.” Stopping the pill after a decade of being on it also made things more unpredictable…balancing my hormones is something I’m constantly working on. It’s tough! If you have any advice on that subject, I’d love to know! Thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing your story. It makes me feel like we’re in this together. <3

    1. Just when you think something is working…sigh. I once had a face moisturizer completely clear up a patch of eczema around my eye, then a month later give me hives. ??? Ditto on the gluten! I can never truly tell if cutting it out is what makes the difference, or if it’s the lack of baked goods. 😉 As far as balancing hormones, I’m in the same boat and also have been off the pill for about 7 years. For me, cutting way back on refined sugars and eliminating dairy makes a noticeable impact, as does keeping my stress levels in check. I notice that when I’m in a good place emotionally, my body is a lot more forgiving when it comes to my diet. Installing a shower filter also seemed to help with keeping my skin happy.

  3. Michelle says

    I spot some Dr. Bronner’s haha Who doesn’t have a bottle of that in their bathroom?! 😉 I’ve heard good things about a lot of the products you mentioned and I swear by Rahua classic shampoo and conditioner. The smell took me a while to adjust to but now I look forward to it because it makes my scalp feel so good! I’m glad to know about Drunk Elephant. I keep seeing it mentioned everywhere, but everyone’s skin is different and what works for some people won’t work for others. Are you still liking the Mymatcha stick? That’s another brand that’s everywhere and I’ve been wanting to try it.

    1. Good eye! We always have some Dr. Bronner’s around somewhere. Lately I’ve been really into the almond scent. 🙂 I LOVE the MyMatcha stick so far! I use it around my eyes at night, on my lips, and it worked wonders on a dry patch I had on my elbow.

  4. Ashley says

    I can relate so much to what you said about getting sucked into IG stories and feeling like I need to be buying ALL THE THINGS. I started cutting back on the time I spend on social media and even unfollowed some people who just shill non-stop. I think we forget that 95% of what we’re watching is sponsored and therefore an ad in a sneaky form. So many of the “influencers” today aren’t disclosing that as often as they should be. As you said in your post, it’s really easy to get caught up in it.

    1. Sara says

      Exactly! I have really struggled with this recently. I like seeing new outfits and products be realized I was feeling like I needed to buy all the things.

      1. I definitely can start to fall into this too if I’m not mindful. Social media is a slippery slope!

    2. Amen to everything you just said, Ashley!

  5. Izzy says

    I had a similarly bad reaction to oil cleansing a long time ago. I’m not lying when I say it ruined my face for 3 long months and I ended up going on prescription antibiotics from my doctor to help with what turned into a severe infection. Not everyone can slather oil on their face and get glowy results! I’ll never ever ever put coconut oil on my face for that reason. The Acne.org regimen was my saving grace and their online forums really helped when I was at my wit’s end trying to repair the damage I had done. It’s pretty inexpensive as well.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. I will never go near oil cleansing. I know it’s a miracle worker for some people, but when it doesn’t work, it REALLY doesn’t work. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that!

  6. Alyssa says

    What a great new series Amanda! It’s so nice to get a little peek into your day-to-day life outside of food. 🙂 I know basically nothing about skincare and mostly use drugstore brands, but I’ve been on the hunt for a good sunscreen. Do you find that the Juice Beauty one is greasy? Does it leave a white residue? All of the natural ones I’ve tried have been too heavy for me.

    1. Thanks, Alyssa! I’ve used that Juice Beauty CC cream for a few years and I like it. I find that it’s thick, so I usually do a light layer of a moisturizer first, then apply, let it sink in (it’s tinted so no white residue), and use my Alima Pure loose powder. I bought the oil-free Juice Beauty sunscreen for Aaron thinking it wouldn’t be greasy, but he’s not a fan and says it migrates into his eyes. Maybe he’s just using too much though? The CC SPF is the only one I’ve tried.

  7. Caila says

    Have been following your blog (but have not commented before!) for a little over a year now, and I’ve always enjoyed your writing as well as making your recipes at home! This was a really nice read and I loved reading about this experiment on your skin. I’m also pretty minimalist with my skin, but haven’t always been that way, so it was interesting to see someone else go through some of the same things I have. Please, please, please do more in this “I Tried It” series! I’m excited to see what you’ll come up with next. 🙂

    1. Thank you for commenting, Caila! It’s so nice to “meet” you. 🙂 I’m working on a homemade deodorant post next…stay tuned for that soon!

  8. Kait says

    AMANDA HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE TALKED ABOUT THIS. You aren’t allowed to trespass on my brain. Come on now.


    Ok but seriously…I’m in such a weird spot with my skin too and wanting to get completely away from the “chemicals” but also not feeling like I can’t…and then feeling guilty. It’s the worst cycle. I feel like my skin looks 10 years older than I am and if that’s already the case then UGH. I’m trying to approach it like I’ve done with food—gently and with curiosity, and recognizing that it changes—but that feels overwhelming.

    *Realization I just had*: this is a big part of what I teach my clients and I’m TOTALLY fine with this approach in the bedroom but not for my skin. WHOA.

    Going to go marinate on that for a bit.


    1. haha Great minds think alike? 😉 As someone who has tried (unsuccessfully) to completely eliminate chemicals from my skincare and temporarily ruined my skin in the process, my advice would be to go with whatever is working for you. If you can switch to a “clean” body lotion, but not a “clean” face moisturizer, so be it. Every body is different. Don’t feel guilty! (and yes, I need to take my own advice here) Your realization about what you teach your clients versus what you’re telling yourself is a powerful one…definitely worthing marinating on that. xo Related, I’ve never been to a dermatologist for fear of them doing more harm than good, but if you can find a good one near you, they may be worth their weight in gold.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *