Just as there are different types of moisturizer, so too are there types of faces. Some people have naturally dry skin, while others have excessively oily skin. Still others have skin that is overly sensitive to allergens and climate, and others have some combination of these different types. The lucky among us have "normal" skin that is neither dry nor oily.
If the skin on your face is too dry, it'd be in for a rough ride if you stopped moisturizing. Dry skin is the result of the skin's underproduction of sebum. Conditions such as hot or cold weather (or low humidity) only worsen the dryness. Without the assistance of an additional moisturizing agent, your skin would start cracking, itching and flaking and become tight and red. Your face would also age before its time, growing coarser.
Those with oily skin have the opposite problem -- their skin produces too much oil. The excess oil leads to acne and a greasy appearance, requiring stronger soaps that then strip the oil off your face. Due to this constant stripping of oil, the face cycles through periods of extreme dryness in which it is left unprotected to the elements. The complete absence of moisturizer use wouldn't diminish acne, and it would lead to premature aging and irritation.
Sensitive skin easily becomes irritated and red. Dryness can prompt a negative skin reaction, but so can the wrong moisturizer (especially if it contains perfumes). Unchecked dryness would exacerbate problems with sensitive skin, making it harder to maintain a healthy and attractive appearance in addition to causing severe discomfort.
Lack of moisturizer use would have similar effects on normal skin as well, though to a somewhat lesser degree.
If you opt not to forego moisturizing your skin for the rest of your life, make sure that you apply it correctly. Moisturizer prevents water that is already present on the skin from evaporating. For this reason, it's important to apply moisturizer within about three minutes of bathing [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Lightly pat your face dry after washing, then apply moisturizer. Putting moisturizer on a dry face will prevent external moisture from reaching the skin and seal in dryness.
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- American Academy of Dermatology. "Daily Skin Care Essential to Control Atopic Dermatitis." (Jan. 5, 2010)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/daily_care.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Bathing and Moisturizing Guidelines." (Jan. 5, 2010)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/bathing.html
- Amirlak, Bardia, MD, et al. "Skin, Anatomy." Sep. 5, 2008. (Jan. 5, 2010)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1294744-overview
- Chudler, Eric, Ph.D. "The Skin." University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials. (Jan. 5, 2010) http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/receptor.html
- Lee, Delphine J.; Shellow, William V.R. "Management of Acne." Primary Care Medicine: Office Evaluation and Management of the Adult Patient (5th edition). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006. ISBN 078177456X, 9780781774567.http://books.google.com/books?id=aWQhTbwoM9EC&pg=RA1-PA1191&dq= whiteheads+blackheads
- Marks, Roland. Sophisticated Emollients. Thieme, 2001. 1588900843, 9781588900845. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZRGSp0RDapEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Dry Skin." (Jan. 5, 2010) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Moisturizers: Options for softer skin." (Jan. 5, 2010)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/moisturizers/SN00042
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Rosacea." Nov. 15, 2008. (Jan. 5, 2010) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rosacea/DS00308
- New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. "Emollients and Moisturizers." (Jan. 5, 2010) http://dermnetnz.org/treatments/emollients.html