What Happens If You Don't Wash Your Face for a Month
Skipping this step in your routine can have benefits, but do they outweigh the drawbacks?
Washing your face often feels refreshing and restorative. If you're tired, it can wake you up. If you've been crying, it can help you pull yourself together. And if you've had a bad day, well, what's better than washing it away?
There are lots of more practical reasons to to wash your face, of course. It's a good idea to clean off makeup, residual grease from the burger you had for lunch, and the ick from your hour-long commute home. How often you should perform this cleaning ritual is up for debate, however, with some experts saying you should skip your morning face-washing.
But what would happen if you were to truly forgo face washing… for a whole month? Maybe your skin has been feeling rough and dry, or perhaps you'd just like to see what happens if you dramatically switch up your routine by leaving out this one step. Whatever your inspiration, read on to find out the pros, cons, and consequences of going for 30 days without washing your face.
Washing your face is important.
If there's one thing experts agree on, it's that face-washing is important. "Our face is exposed to various environmental factors like pollution, dirt, and bacteria throughout the day, and when left on the skin, these impurities can settle on the skin's surface and clog pores, leading to acne breakouts and other skin problems," explains Josh Sim, an aesthetic consultant, preventative aging expert, and the founder of skincare brand Monteceuticals. "Washing your face is important, as it helps to remove these impurities, which in turn helps to prevent acne breakouts and other skin problems."
Some say you should wash both morning and night. According to Healthline, there's an "alarming" amount of bacteria on our pillowcases that we'll want to wash away each morning, and a good cleaning can also reduce puffiness.
But dermatologist Dustin Portela, DO, FAAD, told Best Life that morning face-washing can dry out or irritate your skin. "Each time you cleanse your face, you will remove some of the natural oils that your skin produces," Portela says. "For this reason, individuals with dry or sensitive skin may benefit from skipping a wash in the morning."
Not washing your face can dry out your skin.
The benefits and detriments of washing your face aren't always so clear-cut. If you have dry skin, you may not want to wash your face too much. But an unwashed face doesn't necessarily equal a moist, supple face. In fact, you can dry out your skin by failing to wash it.
"If someone were to stop washing their face for a month, their skin may become dry, flaky, and itchy due to the accumulation of impurities, dead skin cells, and oil on the skin's surface which can lead to a greasy and flaky appearance," Sim cautions, explaining that accumulated oil and sweat can cause dryness, inflammation, as well as "a scaly texture and even fine lines and wrinkles if the skin becomes too damaged."
Skincare products may become less effective if you don't wash your face.
If you're thinking of simply slapping moisturizer on irritated skin, face-washing comes in handy for that, too. "When you wash your face, you also remove any impurities that may prevent skincare products like serums or moisturizers from absorbing into the skin, helping to maximize the benefits of your products and making your skincare routine more effective," notes Sim. "This is because the products can easily penetrate into the skin, allowing them ample time to absorb into the deeper layers of the dermis and truly nourish the skin.'
Your skin may look different—and not in a good way.
You may want your skin to look "different," but let's define what that means to you. If you're aiming to improve your complexion, then going 30 days without properly washing your face may not be the right move.
"If you don't wash your face for a month, the dirt and oil on your skin will start to accumulate [and] it will obviously lack freshness," says dermatologist Anju Methil, MD. Methil warns that this can lead to clogged pores and acne, as well as a dull complexion. "Not washing your face also leads to excess oil production which makes the skin look greasy," Methil says. "In addition, not removing impurities from the skin can result in dull and dry skin, as well as signs of premature aging due to a lack of oxygenation." This is probably not what you're going for when you visualize a difference in your skin.
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Not washing your face can do permanent damage to your skin.
If you're thinking of trying a month without washing your face as an experiment, be forewarned that it can have lasting consequences.
Sim cautions that in addition to potential breakouts, not washing your face can lead to blocked and even infected pores, which may result in "painful spots or cysts deep under the skin." And the "lack of proper skincare may lead to an increase in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles due to the skin's decreased ability to regenerate and repair itself, as well as the inability to hydrate the skin with this dryness emphasizing the look of already existing fine lines, and even causing the formation of new ones," Sim says.
This is undoubtedly not the look you're going for, so while it's good to take into account what your skin type is and what it needs, keeping it clean is a must no matter what.