Is it bad to sleep with makeup on? Our best advice

Do you ever get to the end of the day, collapse into bed, and then realize you forgot to wash your face and take your makeup off? It can feel like a chore to motivate yourself back into the bathroom to complete your nighttime skin care routine, but it’s more important than you think.

I think everyone knows going to bed with makeup on is a bad idea, even if you assume there is some makeup you can sleep in. Not only is it bad for your skin (like, really bad), but if you’ve ever tried getting matted mascara out of your pillowcases, you know it’s a chore. The bottom line is that taking the extra minute to hop up out of bed and wash your face clean of makeup and all the dirt and grime that finds its way onto your face during the day is minimal compared to the damage it can cause if you don’t.

woman removing makeup
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What’s the worst that can happen?

Wondering if it is bad to sleep with makeup on? If you wear concealer, foundation, or finishing powder, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Makeup actually blocks your pores, causing oil and dirt to get trapped underneath. “Makeup physically blocks the pores, preventing oil from leaving the skin and leading to breakouts,” Dr. Zeichner, MD, and board-certified dermatologist told Real Simple. But that’s not the worst of it. Dr. Zeichner also said pollutants from the environment trapped inside the skin cause increased free radicals that cause skin inflammation, redness, and irritation, which can cause premature aging.

It’s not just foundation that can be damaging if not removed nightly. Snoozing in eye makeup can also cause problems. According to multiple dermatologists, neglecting to remove your eye makeup can cause dryness, redness, irritation, and infection. You can also lose eyelashes, and as you get older, you’ll want to hang onto as many of those puppies as you can.

If you spend a lot on your skin care regime, leftover makeup from the night before can actually prevent your products from entering your skin. It can actually form a barrier that prevents beneficial ingredients from penetrating the skin’s surface, which is a waste of time and money.

Even sleeping in lipstick can cause problems if done repeatedly. Look, if you accidentally fall asleep (pass out) from a big night out, your lips will live. But if you never wash your face at night, and that includes wiping off your lipstick, it can result in dryness and chapping, so take a second to remove it and replace it with lip balm.

Help me help you

If you happen to sleep in your makeup because you didn’t fall asleep in your own bed (no judgment) or couldn’t be bothered, there are a few things you can do to not make the situation worse. The first thing is to wake up and immediately wash your hands.

Throughout the day, our hands come into contact with a billion things that carry dirt and debris — our phone, doors, laptop, pets, kids — the list goes on and on. The bacteria from these objects can transfer onto your face and, already full of last night’s makeup, can make matters worse.

The next one may seem obvious, but spend time cleaning your face with a gentle cleanser. Rinse. Repeat. When you’re finished, find a hyaluronic acid booster to help cell turnover along with an acne treatment (even if it’s preventative).

Finally, clean those sheets. If you are a serial repeater of sleeping with makeup on, it’s imperative you wash your pillowcases frequently to keep dirt and grim away from your face, especially the morning after the offense.

makeup pad full
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Our advice?

If you’re a bit lazy toward the end of the evening (again, zero judgment), here are a few cheats. They don’t replace a nightly skin care routine, but they will help you avoid the occasional breakout. First, always stay hydrated. Water is one of the best gifts you can give your body and your skin, so always keep a bottle of water by your bedside so you can hydrate throughout the night.

Also, find a soothing, hydrating facial wipe that doubles as a solid makeup remover and keep a pack on your nightstand. If you just can’t muster the energy to get up, slap one of those on your face and gently wipe your face free of makeup. Again, it’s not a substitute for the real thing, but it’s better than nothing.

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