PSA: The Best Thing I've Done For My Skin Is Stopped Washing It

Photographed by Ruben Chamorro.
I've done a lot of experiments in pursuit of good skin this year. I changed my entire diet, drank a gallon of water a day, and even gave up cheese. But, without question, the best thing I've done is stopped washing my face.

You're probably thinking: Isn't Thou Shalt Wash Thy Face Morning & Night the number one skin-care commandment? Let me explain.

For the past three months, I have been cleansing my skin only with micellar water — avoiding regular old sink water whenever possible. For those unfamiliar, micellar water has long been fabled as the French-girl secret to beautiful skin. Instead of scrubbing your face with soap and tap water, you apply the micellar to a cotton pad and then gently sweep said cotton pad all over your dry skin. The formula contains highly purified water mixed with micelles (which are a cluster of fatty-acid esters), which dissolve impurities on the skin. Once you're done, there's no rinsing — you just move on to the next step.

Micellar water is key for those with sensitive skin, as it reduces hard water from your skin-care routine. (The damn shower will get you every time.) “Hard water especially has a high mineral composition, containing heavy metals like iron, copper, zinc, and nickel that can lead to redness and irritation, leaving the skin itchy and inflamed, Dr. Julie Russak, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologist, says. And unless you pump your own water from a highly purified well, chances are your tap water is hard water.

I don't have sensitive skin — actually, not many people truly do — but my combination skin is highly reactive in that it will stay red for longer than is considered normal if irritated. The difference was immediately apparent when I stopped washing with water. My skin felt more supple, my zit count went down, and there was an overall glow I didn't have before.

And while micellar is definitely a game-changer in my skin care routine, the rest of the products I use help its cause. Curious as to what I use? Click through to see my entire routine from top to bottom.

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Every morning, I cleanse with Simple Cleansing Micellar Water. I drench a cotton round and swipe it all over my face.

Simple Cleansing Micellar Water, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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I follow that up with a mist of rose water.

Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist, $32, available at Herbivore.
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Next, I pat on Glossier's new Super Glow serum...

Glossier Super Glow Serum, $28, available at Glossier.
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...Followed by the brand's Super Bounce serum.

Glossier Super Bounce Serum, $28, available at Glossier.
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I then cocktail my own moisturizer in the palm of my hand. I start with a daub of this soothing face cream from Dr. Jart+.

Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream, $48, available at Sephora.
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I add about three to four drops of Uma's face oil to the dollop of Tiger Grass Cream, mix it together, and smooth it over my skin.

Uma Ultimate Brightening Face Oil, $150, available at Uma.
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After moisturizing, I tap on an eye cream. This one is my current fave.

Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream, $26.50, available at Clinique.
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I finish off my morning routine with an SPF. Not only does it protect me from the sun, but it acts as a primer for my makeup.

Avène Mineral Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+, $28, available at Avène.
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At night, I use the micellar water again, making sure to really focus the cotton balls on my eyes (this stuff is amazing at dissolving eyeliner and mascara). Next, I exfoliate — which is essential when using a micellar water, says Dr. Russak. (You need to make sure you're sloughing off all the dead skin — one place where water does trump micellar.)

I cycle between two types of exfolliants. Twice a week, I use Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, which is a chemical exfolliant.

Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, $42, available at Sephora.
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I also use a physical exfolliant twice a week, and then skip scrubs on the other three days per week. This one from Malin + Goetz is the tops. I use the Micellar water to rinse it off.

Malin + Goetz Jojoba Face Scrub, $38, available at Malin + Goetz.
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After I scrub, I pat on Glossier's Super Pure serum.

Glossier Super Pure Serum, $28, available at Glossier.
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On the days I use my physical exfolliant, I use Sunday Riley's Luna as my night treatment.

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, $105, available at Sephora.
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On all the other days, I use Caudalie's Overnight Detox Oil, which keeps my skin silky smooth.

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Overnight Detox Oil, $52, available at Birchbox.
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I finish off my evening skin care routine with my black tea eye cream, and then down a big glass of water.

Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Eye Concentrate, $78, available at Nordstrom.
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In the winter, I tend to need a cleansing oil to nourish my dry skin, so I may have to jump on the water train in the next few months. (I use a hot, damp washcloth to remove the oil from my skin.) So whether or not the micellar is truly a miracle is to be determined. But for now, whenever someone asks my skin-care secret, I'll tell them the truth: Not washing my face.

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil, $32, available at Kiehl's.
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