Here's What Happens To Your Skin When You Sleep With Your Makeup On

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

We all know the feeling after a long, tiring day at the office. You're exhausted, certainly not eager for the next day, and all you want to do is lie on your bed and sleep your stress away. And sometimes, you do that, crashing in your work clothes and definitely without washing off your makeup. But while work, school, or events can be draining, sleeping in makeup is a shortcut you don't want to take. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why going to bed without taking off your makeup can be disastrous to skin health.


According to the consultants at Short Hills Dermatology, going to bed with makeup deters your skin's natural process of regeneration, resetting, and healing during rest. Basically, your skin is trying to repair damage and slough off dead cells while you rest — a process makeup, oils, bacteria, and sweat can disrupt. Of course, forgetting to take off your makeup once in a while might not have long-term effects on your skin. However, BioRepublic warns that you shouldn't make this a habit. Here's what really happens when you sleep with makeup on, and how to make sure your face is fresh and clean for bedtime.

How sleeping in makeup can damage your skin

Besides how smudged and silly you and your pillowcase might look with a face full of makeup in the morning, there are real implications of not cleansing your skin before bed — and they are not pretty. When you go to bed with your makeup on, your skin cannot shed dead skin cells, causing buildup and clogged pores while blocking the release of skin oil. For people with acne-prone or sensitive skin, clogged pores are bad news as they worsen acne and can irritate the skin (per Oladoc).


Paula's Choice also affirms that wearing makeup overnight can cause the skin to look dull and have a rough texture. Your skin's inability to shed dead skin cells when you sleep with makeup on can even lead to accelerated or premature aging. Short Hills Dermatology explains that this is an effect of the skin barrier breakdown that comes from prolonged makeup wear, causing fine lines and wrinkles to appear.

Face makeup isn't the only culprit here, as wearing eye makeup to bed can have serious consequences as well. "Sleeping with eye makeup can be particularly dangerous," dermatologist Dr. Hadley King tells "It can result in irritation, allergic reactions or more severe conditions, such as infections or a scratched cornea." She goes on to add that prolonged mascara wear at bedtime can also make eyelashes thinner and brittle, causing breakage. Plus, certain eye makeup trends can cause damage by blocking glands and ducts around the eye, leading to vision issues and disorders like Meibomian gland dysfunction.


How to remove makeup before bedtime

It can be a chore to pick yourself up when you're tired, but having a quick skincare routine is important before going to bed. Dermstore recommends incorporating double cleansing into your nighttime routine to sweep away dirt and makeup from your day. Double cleansing is the practice of washing your face with an oil-based cleanser first and then following that with a water-based cleanser. Naturally, oil-based face washes can appear as oil cleansers, like the Peach & Lily Ginger Melt Oil Cleanser, which boasts a rating of over 4 stars at Ulta Beauty. But they can also come in balm form, like the Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm. Cleansing balms and oils break down sweat and makeup, helping your regular water-based cleanser remove these impurities more easily.


If cleansing balms and oils are not your jam, try cotton pads saturated with micellar water like the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water. Micellar waters are excellent for gently removing your makeup before bedtime (per L'Oréal Paris). You don't want to overdo it with this routine and lose any hours of sleep, so keep it simple by finishing with your favorite moisturizer (per Minimalist). With hydration restored to your freshly cleansed skin, you can go to bed feeling refreshed.