What Happens If You Don't Wash Your Face

Washing your face on a daily basis is something your parents probably told you to do ever since you were an acne-prone teenager. However, just because your skin may look a little clearer as an adult doesn't mean you should skip washing your face, even if it's just for one day. I, for one, never use to wash my face. I didn't think I needed to because my acne was under control. And honestly, I thought, "What's the big deal?" Ah, was I wrong. One day, I randomly started a skin regimen and now my skin feels a thousand times better. But is it 100 percent necessary to wash your face every single day, even if it feels good when you do?

"Washing your face is important to remove excess oil (sebum), dead skin cells, makeup and other skin care products, bacteria, dirt and other impurities that [may] have built up on the skin. Cleansing the skin allows the products that [you] apply afterwards to penetrate more easily and work more effectively," says dermatologist Sejal Shah in an interview with Bustle over email. "The buildup on the skin can accelerate skin aging, contribute to the development of acne and potentially irritate the skin, so cleansing reduces these external factors," continues Shah.

So how exactly should you take care of your skin?

"It’s important to have a nightly regimen that cleanses and hydrates because when you’re sleeping your skin is healing and repairing. At night during your sleep cycle, your pores are much more prone to congestion, so it’s important to cleanse your face and remove what’s accumulated throughout the day (e.g., make up)," says Dr. Howard Murad in an interview with Bustle over email. "If you remove debris and have a good nighttime regimen — we recommend a cleanser and a hydrating moisturizer — pores can regain the hydration they’ve lost throughout the day. Nourishing your skin — whether topical or consuming water-rich foods — is important to avoid dehydration, which can cause unhealthy, congested, sensitive, and acne-prone skin," says Murad.

Ultimately, if you thought it was OK to skip washing your face for just one day, well, here are nine reasons why you shouldn't.

1. Buildup Can Occur

Even if you had a long night of drinking wine, you still should wash your face at the end of the night. If not, buildup can begin to occur, which can make your skin become dull and feel rough. Shah lists "oil/sebum, dead skin cells, bacteria, makeup and other skin care products, dirt and other impurities (for example particulate matter from pollution)" as things that can buildup on your face.

2. Your Skin Can Dry Out

If your skin is dry, you need to be especially mindful of your skin routine. "If you have dry/sensitive skin, allowing buildup on the skin can potentially dry it out more or result in skin irritation," says Shah.

3. Your Face Won't Absorb Your Moisturizer As Well

The texture of your skin can change when you decide to not wash your face due to buildup of dead skin cells, bacteria, and other impurities. When this occurs, the extra layer of dirt prevents your skin from fully absorbing any moisturizers you might use. "[Having buildup of dirt] also prevents your moisturizer from working effectively thereby also leading to more dryness," says Shah.

4. Your Skin May Become Extra Oily

If your skin leans toward the more oily side, you still have to worry about washing your face. Skipping your skin regime for one day could mean more problems for you in the future. "Oily [skin] will appear oilier and the skin may actually start producing more oil in response to dryness," says Shah.

5. The Beginning Stages Of Acne Could Occur

Washing your face is important because it helps get rid of dirt and oil and prevents your face from breaking out. This twice-daily routine of cleansing your face is especially vital for people who have acne-prone skin. "If you are acne-prone, you will likely break out more. The buildup on the skin can clog pores leading to the development of acne," says Shah.

6. Your Skin Can Hold On To Free Radicals

Exposing your skin to your city's impurities (i.e. car fumes and dirt) is not ideal. If you don't clean your face immediately when you get home (especially after wearing makeup), your skin can hold on to those free radicals and damage your skin even more.

"Sleeping with makeup on can have a number of negative effects on the skin. Makeup can clog pores while you sleep. It holds on to free radicals from the environment leading to unnecessarily prolonged exposure to them. These free radicals damage the skin resulting in premature aging," says Shah.

7. Your Skin Isn't Allowed To Repair Itself

In addition to getting seven to nine hours of sleep, it's also important to remember to remove your makeup so your skin can repair itself. When you sleep, your skin makes new collagen and helps boost blood flow to the surface, which gives your skin that instant glow. "Sleeping with makeup doesn't allow your skin to repair and renew itself overnight also accelerating the aging process," says Shah.

8. Your Risk Of Infection Can Increase

Wearing makeup to bed is a huge no-no, especially if you wear eye makeup. Going to bed with a full face of products can increase your risk of infection and irritate your skin. "The wet, moist environment inside of the [mascara] tube is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria," says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD in a Refinery29 article. "The longer any eye makeup stays in contact with the eyes, the higher your risk of infection," continues Gohara.

9. Premature Aging Can Occur

"Dirt and makeup trapped against your skin cause environmentally-induced oxidative damage," said dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu in a Good Housekeeping article. "This leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier and prematurely ages your face." Waking up with another wrinkle on your face is probably not on your agenda. To prevent this from happening, make sure you give your face a nice scrub down twice a day — once in the morning and at night.

Don't let your inner lazy girl stop you from washing your face. Have some makeup remover wipes by your bedside if you don't feel like getting up to clean your face. The more proactive you are about keeping your face clean, the better you can look and feel.

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