What Is The 'Caveman Regimen' For Your Skin?

In recent years, skincare has taken center stage as part of our beauty routine. Bathroom cabinets that used to be filled with nothing but St. Ives and Neutrogena cleansers now look like a chemist's lab, filled to the brim with hyper-specific, multi-step routines curated to your individual skin type and goals. In some ways, this evolution is a good thing — people who were struggling to see results with a few readily-available products are finally able to find ingredients that work for them, and the consumer base as a whole is becoming more educated and holding brands accountable instead of blindly trusting labels.


On the other hand, this new focus on skincare is expensive, time-consuming, and often confusing. Trying out each ingredient, nailing down your exact skin type, and performing research previously reserved for chemists can be a lot, not to mention the negative impacts if you misstep and invest in a product that leaves you with irritation and breakouts. Instead of suggesting you incorporate new, trendy, ingredients, however, the caveman regimen encourages you to take it back to square one, completely abandoning your routine to give your skin the chance to balance itself.

What is the caveman regimen?

The caveman regimen is a bit of a misleading term. In actuality, this trendy approach to skincare focuses on the lack of a routine altogether. Instead of encouraging you to purchase a new cleanser to clear away oil alongside a moisturizer to replenish what was lost, the caveman regimen suggests you allow your skin to reach equilibrium on its own without the use of products. You read that correctly — no products at all.


This routine is obviously appealing because it requires absolutely no work, additional investments, or deep-dive research on your end, but it could actually have some scientific merit, especially for those with ongoing skin issues. "It's a great way to find out what could be instigating a facial rash, and it simplifies things for people who don't want to do much. It basically acts as an elimination diet for your skin," says dermatologist Karan Lal in an interview with POPSUGAR.

What products should you avoid?

The caveman regimen is about as extreme as you can get when it comes to eliminating products. Approaches to this routine vary, but the general rule is to eliminate everything that comes into contact with your face for a certain period of time. This includes serums, toners, and creams, but it also requires that you stop using your cleansers, moisturizers, and wearing makeup while going through the process. According to a TikTok by Imperfect Journey, some even forgo washing their skin with water during the days, weeks, or months they choose to try out this routine.


While this might seem like a recipe for breakouts and clogged pores, the general theory is that your skin has the ability to naturally balance itself and will actually look and feel better without the interference of products. This approach's effectiveness seems to vary from person to person, but it can have a serious positive impact if one of your products is unknowingly causing issues in your routine.

How long to do the caveman regimen

For the most part, the caveman regimen is seen as a temporary reset instead of a permanent change. Think of it like dry January for your skin. Most of us haven't taken a break from the basics of our skincare routine since we started regularly washing our faces, and have instead just been steadily adding and replacing products over time. By taking a break and starting with a clean slate, you're able to more critically analyze how each of your go-to products actually impacts your skin while giving your face a chance to recover from anything that might be causing issues.


How long to do this routine depends on your desired effects, but many people go for a week up to a month. If you're looking to heal an existing issue, reduce the inflammation of a rash, or temper an eczema flare-up, just keep an eye on your skin and begin incorporating simple products once you notice your irritation has faded.

Who is this method best for?

Going product-free is one of the most versatile skincare approaches because there's no risk of allergic reactions or irritation from certain ingredients. Because of this, it's open to everyone, but it can be especially helpful for people with sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea. By eliminating the products you use, you'll be able to more quickly heal your skin and remove any barriers that could cause further issues.


This approach is also popular with people who are suffering from acne, though it yields mixed results. If your acne is being caused by harsh scrubbing and soaps that damage the skin's natural barrier, the caveman regimen will likely help your skin clear up. If it's hormonal or caused by clogged pores, bacteria, or buildup on the surface of the skin, the caveman regimen might cause it to worsen. Either way, this approach can help you get a better look into the causes of your skincare woes, helping you to build a better-tailored routine once you reintroduce products.

What risks come with this trend?

Because the caveman regimen is about elimination, it doesn't come with many risks. One major consideration, however, is sun protection. Skipping out on most of your products isn't going to cause any damage, but facing the harsh sun without the UV protection of sunscreen can. "If anything, please use SPF," Dr. Karan Lal recommended to POPSUGAR. "Sunscreen actively decreases the risk of skin cancer development." This is especially true if you spend large amounts of time outdoors, so don't fret about this exception to your no-products trial phase. While sunscreen can cause additional issues if you're planning to forgo washing your face with water entirely, a simple rinse in the shower at the end of the day should be enough to wash away any residual sunscreen.


The caveman regimen is certainly a unique approach to skincare, but considering the world's current obsession with incorporating new products, it's a welcome break from other trends. As with any pre-made routine, results may vary, but at least you won't be out any additional cash if your experiment fails.