Can The 'Caveman Regimen' Revolutionize Your Skincare Routine?

We all place great importance on caring for our skin and nourishing it with a variety of products and are willing to try just about anything for the perfect routine. How about a new trend known as the caveman regimen? The process consists of not using any skincare products and simply applying water whenever you bathe. The intention of the regimen is to help your skin return to its natural and untreated state. 

Notable faces such as Lady Gaga and Salma Hayek claim to adopt this practice and extol its virtues. However, any health craze circulating on social media should be met with the utmost caution as this may be a potentially risky lifestyle to pursue. Each of us has unique skin types and needs, therefore, it's best to be well-informed on what is appropriate for your care routine. So, does the caveman regimen actually work? And what are the risks?

Upsides of the 'Caveman regimen'

There is no time limit to the duration of the cavemen regimen — some users have adopted the technique for as little as a week, while others have opted for a permanent withdrawal from all skincare products. If you're currently experiencing rashes or other irritation to your skin, it may be sensible to identify which product, or products, are potentially causing this reaction and avoid using them. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal told Popsugar, "It's good for people who have an allergic skin disease, untreatable facial rashes, and for those with eczema."

Abandoning all skincare products may even be preferable for non-sufferers as well. A Harvard Medical School newsletter even suggested that there is little evidence that moisturizers — regardless of how often you use them — have any real scientific benefit. Furthermore, as skin pharmacologist and microbiome expert Elsa Jugman explained to Slate, "Today we have never used so many products and yet, our skin has never been worse. The more ingredients we use, the more it can damage our skin barrier and microbiome, and the more we remove the essential nutrients."

You might want to avoid adding the caveman regimen to your skincare routine

Vocal proponents of the cavemen regimen have even stretched this concept to its extremities whereby they potentially adopt unsafe practices like avoiding sun lotion. During the warmer months of the year, it can be hazardous not to apply sunscreens — whether mineral or chemical — with a high SPF rating as this can protect you against high ultraviolet radiation.

Repeatedly exposing your unprotected skin to sunlight during peak hours can lead to melanoma (skin cancer), which may require complicated surgery if it becomes advanced. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. with an estimated 186,680 cases of melanoma set to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2023.

Many people in the beauty industry have seen the benefits of using skincare firsthand. For instance, as skincare expert Nichola Joss told The Destino, "I first knew I wanted to work in beauty when I realized how quickly the skin could be improved with good skincare and daily massage to remove stress and tension." Dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles is also a champion of using a routine. "Our skin comes in contact with environmental pollutants, dirt, and other factors each day that should be gently removed," he told The New York Times. Ultimately, it's probably best to observe what your skin is showing. If you notice long-term issues with your skin, you should consult with a dermatologist.