This Is What Happens When You Stop Wearing Makeup

There are plenty of reasons to love make up. It can help bring out our favorite features, hide flaws, and make us feel more confident. And if we're being honest, makeup is a blast to play around with (hello, smokey eye YouTube tutorials). But as much as makeup can be a girl's best friend, it may not be the healthiest thing to slather all over our faces on a daily basis.

In fact, dermatologist Dr. Idi Martins told Vanguard that wearing too much makeup can actually expose the skin to a considerable amount of chemicals and toxins. "The chemicals found in lipsticks, eye pencils, and mascara, could cause serious health problems," he said. Yikes!

Luckily, going sans makeup (even just once every few months) can do wonders for our skin. Hmm, guess Alicia Keys' recent makeup-free look is benefiting her in more ways than one.

Here's what really happens to you face when you ditch the makeup.

Your pores will look smaller

Foundation, blush and bronzer might look nice, but underneath the surface, these tiny makeup particles accumulate in our pores with each wear. Along with all the air pollutants our skin is exposed to each day, dirt builds up, causing pores to become clogged and appear enlarged over time. Although there's nothing you can do to actually change the size of your pores, going makeup free (and regular facial cleansing) minimizes buildup inside the pores, making them appear smaller and giving your complexion a smoother finish.

You'll experience fewer breakouts

The more makeup we use, the more toxins we're putting on our faces – not to mention all the gross stuff that builds up on our makeup brushes that we know we're not cleaning on a regular basis like we're supposed to. All these germs not only clog pores, but they cause inflammation, which leads to more breakouts that we end up desperately trying to cover up with more makeup. "Makeup is the root cause of acne or skin problems for over 30 percent of my female patients," dermatologist Dr. Ijaz Ahmed said in an interview with Tribune.

In short, less makeup means fewer pimples, which helps to stop this vicious cycle.

Fewer eye infections

Mascara will do way more than just make your lashes look longer. Unfortunately, most eye makeup contains preservatives that can cause conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye), as well as other eye allergies that come with a slew of uncomfortable symptoms like redness, swelling, dryness and itching. Germs can also spread by sharing makeup.

Our eyeliner pencils and mascara wands can do some pretty serious damage, too. According to Vision Source Eye Care, "one of the most serious injuries that can be caused by eye makeup is damage to your cornea. It is possible to scratch your cornea while applying makeup with your mascara applicator or eyeliner." Serious enough injuries can even lead to corneal abrasions. Ouch!

Goodbye to dry skin

Makeup messes with our skin's natural cell renewal process, which can wreak havoc on the skin, especially on those nights when we're too tired to wash the makeup up off our faces. "One of the most basic problems that occurs when you don't clean your face before bedtime is that natural skin sloughing, where dead skin is replaced with new cells, is impeded," dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian told Marie Claire. "Dead skin cells accumulate, leading to dull, dry skin."

No makeup means no nasty, germy residue left behind to interrupt the formation of new cells. This leaves us with a face that's naturally more vibrant and hydrated.

Fewer allergic reactions

Parabens, sulfates, and metals are all things that can be found in everyday makeup and skin care products. Unfortunately, they're also part of the 3,700 substances known to cause skin allergies.

Lead esthetician of Shen Beauty, Carrie Lindsey, told Bustle that makeup allergies most often show up as a skin irritation called contact dermatitis. "[Contact dermatitis] can appear in the form of red, dry patches on the skin, or with more severity there will be inflammation in the form of hives or raised, dry patches." She urges you to discontinue using any product that causes your skin to react in this way. Not sure what's making your skin act funky? Going makeup free might just be the answer to your dilemma.

Reduce wrinkles

Although it may sound counterintuitive, the same makeup that you're using to cover up wrinkles and blemishes may be making them worse, says dermatologist Dr. Robin Evans. Over time, makeup tends to settle into fine lines and wrinkles, which essentially just shines a spotlight on the very signs of aging you're trying to hide. It's like a telltale heart that gets louder the longer you try to cover it up. Everyone ages, so rather than trying to bury your age under layers of foundation, embrace your true face — you might be surprised at how much younger you actually look.

More sun damage

While rocking a naked face has some advantages, makeup isn't always a sinister villain. For some women, the SPF in their foundation is the only source of sun protection they use on their face. In that case, Dr. Fayne Frey told me that going without makeup may increase their risk of sun damage. However, she adds that most women don't apply their makeup thick enough or frequently enough to get the full SPF coverage advertised on their foundation. So makeup or no makeup, everyone should be using an additional sun-blocking moisturizer daily in order to actually ward off the harsh effects of the sun.

A renewed sense of power

Frye told me she tells her patients that makeup is actually fairly neutral. It's something that's fun to play around with to add color to your style palette, but the biggest benefit of not wearing makeup is more psychological than physiological. As a society, women are told that we need makeup, fillers or Botox, and that signs of aging are a bad thing. So instead of looking in the mirror and seeing ourselves, most of us look in the mirror and see our flaws. But the empowerment that comes from being able to look in the mirror and see the beauty in a naked face that is void of the paint that society tells us we need is the greatest benefit of all.

More sleep equals tons of benefits

According to the TODAY/AOL Ideal to Real Body Image Survey, the average woman spends 55 minutes each day on her appearance. It might not seem like much, but cutting back on makeup means you could sleep in an extra half hour each day — even more if you pick out your outfit the night before. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults over the age of 18 get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Any less, and it could negatively impact your health and your appearance. 

People suffering from sleep deficiency often have trouble with problem solving, making decisions, and coping with change, and are also at an increased risk for depression and other health risks. Additionally, lack of sleep can affect your skin and even your facial expressions. If you often find yourself thinking that you need more sleep (and who doesn't?), you now have some specific motivation!

Your skin will stay younger

A lot of people think they need makeup to look younger, but you might actually be prematurely aging your skin by trying to cover up those wrinkles. The skin around your eyes is very sensitive, so you have to be careful when applying makeup or any other face products. "Rubbing and pulling on the delicate skin around your eyes causes eyelids to lose elasticity and become more wrinkled," dermatologist Jessica Weiser told Glamour. Epidermologist Isabelle Bellis added, "The skin there is much finer than the rest of the face, so tugging can really damage collagen and break capillaries."

Things like pulling on the corner of your eye when trying to get that perfect wing, tugging at your eyelids when removing makeup, and even rubbing in your eye cream too hard can all contribute to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Being gentle with your skin can help cut back on the risk of prematurely aging your skin, but eliminating eye makeup entirely will keep your skin looking even younger.

You'll have less bacteria on your face

If you've got a squeamish stomach, you might want to cut back on the makeup when you hear just how much bacteria is crawling around on it. Bacteria is, of course, all around us, but there's a big difference between knowing it's lurking under your toilet seat and deliberately smearing it all over your face. That's pretty much what you're doing every single time that makeup brush hits your skin.

The risk of your makeup carrying these pathogens increases the older your makeup is, or if you share it with friends. Viruses like herpes simplex or the flu can survive on lipstick for weeks, because the waxes and proteins keep them preserved. As if that weren't nasty enough, your makeup could also be carrying poop particles "since it's usually stored and used in the bathroom next to the toilet," Susan Whittier, an associate professor at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center told BuzzFeed. Gross.

You might lower your risk of cancer

Not to alarm you, but there's a chance that makeup could actually cause cancer. "There are concerns with beauty products that contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)," Lorenzo Cohen, a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said in a post on the center's website. "These chemicals may interfere with your hormonal system. While a direct link between EDCs and cancer is not yet definitive, certain cancers are hormonally-driven. Even a low dose should cause concern, especially if you use the product every day."

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 28 percent of personal products contain 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogen that isn't listed on labels. Research is still being conducted to see just how much of a threat beauty products pose, but it's better to be safe than sorry. EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database lets you search tens of thousands of beauty products to assess their safety. "A good rule of thumb: If you can't pronounce the ingredient and you don't know what it is, you should proceed with caution and seek more information," said Cohen.

Bye bye headaches

We tend to think of allergic reactions caused by makeup as being limited to skin breakouts and rashes, but adverse reactions can actually be a lot more varied. Since many beauty products are scented, the fragrances in them can trigger all sorts of unpleasant symptoms that you might not link back to your makeup. 

If you have frequent migraines, the source of your pain could be your makeup. Makeup has even been known to bring on asthma attacks. "Fragrance can often be behind many adverse reactions to traditional beauty products [and is] considered to be among the top five known allergens," Dr. Frank Lipman told Byrdie

If you suffer from these allergic reactions and still want to wear makeup, you don't necessarily have to look for products that are fragrance free. Dr. Lipman said that it's not about what the product smells like, but about the chemicals added to the makeup to create the smell. "On the label, "fragrance" should be followed by a list of ingredients in parentheses," he said. "Look for a product that uses essential oils instead of 'fragrance (parfum)'."

A healthier you

Besides reducing breakouts, evening your skin tone, and helping keep your face looking and feeling healthier, ditching your makeup addiction can have positive effects on the rest of your body, as well. In fact, Dr. Ahmed explains that carcinogens founds in lipsticks and eye shadows can actually increase risks for health conditions like high blood pressure, behavioral abnormalities, and even rates of fertility.

So while you don't have to swear off makeup forever, giving your body a break from this stuff every now and then can beneficial in the long term.