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Skin Concern


person sleeping with makeup on

How Bad is it to Sleep with Makeup On… Really?

We’ve all been there. It’s late, you just got home from a great night out and you’re exhausted. You just want to crawl into your comfy bed to sleep. You have a face full of makeup but the last thing you want to do is wash your face. What is the harm? Ok, we are going to just rip the bandage off and say it. Sleeping with makeup  on is actually one of the worst things you can do for your skin. For those of you rolling your eyes and thinking, “come on, how bad is it to sleep with makeup on… really,”, we wanted to dive deeper into how dozing off before washing your face has tremendous negative impacts on your skin health.

In a recent survey, a third of women questioned confessed to sleeping with their slap on at least twice a week. – Daily Mail UK. 

Last year makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury caused an internet ruckus with her announcement about wearing makeup to bed to “keep the magic alive” with her husband. Sorry, Charlotte, but have we not evolved from this outdated mentality of not letting anyone, including a significant other, see us barefaced? Yes, makeup is super fun but there is something to be said about clean, glowing skin. It is so, so beautiful… and achievable!

How Bad is it to Sleep with Makeup On… Really?

The day’s makeup has occlusive ingredients that create a physical barrier on skin, blocking pores so your skin can’t naturally regenerate itself. Letting makeup sit on your face overnight is an open invitation to unhygienic consequences like bacteria overgrowth, irritation, clogged pores and skin infections. Disgusting, really. Here are a few unpleasant consequences of sleeping with makeup on, longterm:

Acne and Inflammation

Your skin takes a beating during the day: being exposed to dirt, grime and pollution. Hitting the pillow with a face full of makeup traps oil and doesn’t allow skin to breathe. This can clog pores, which can lead to blackheads, pimples and irritation. It also rubs off on your pillow, to smear on your skin for nights to come. Who wants to wake up to a fresh zit? No thanks.

Premature Aging

Washing your face is important for overall skin healthSkin repairs itself while you sleep. Residual makeup makes it difficult for the natural rejuvenation process to occur. It traps in environmental pollutants and other gunk, which puts skin at a higher risk of oxidative damage, resulting in collagen degradation and harmful DNA changes in skin. The longterm result can be premature aging and even skin cancer.

Don’t believe us? The Daily Mail UK ran an interesting experiment in 2013, in which one woman stopped removing her makeup for an entire month. Not only did she skip her usual cleansers, she also continued to reapply her makeup over her uncleaned skin daily. After 30 days, experts noted that her skin appeared to have aged ten years and the surface of her skin was “flaky and lumpy.” (Daily UK). She experienced some adverse affects, which included a swollen eye, severally dry skin, enlarged pores and eyelash dandruff. This all compounded into less skin elasticity and more prominent wrinkles.

Eye infections

Pollution, makeup, dead skin, dirt and oils collect over the course of the day. Eyes are particularly sensitive and by not removing eye makeup means the product’s remnants and chunks are left to sit around your eyes and eyelashes. Bacteria can pool in these areas, causing itchiness, blemishes, infections and can even long-term eye damage. Not to mention it can also cause under-eye wrinkles.

An American Academy of Ophthalmology study presented a story about a 50-year-old Australian woman who developed serious irritation and solid masses under her eyelids after decades of not removing her eye makeup properly, which if had been left any longer could have resulted in blindness. Although this was an extreme situation and an accumulation of “25 years of heavy mascara use with inadequate removal,” not removing eye makeup (mascara, liner or shadow) can cause bacteria buildup which can lead to itchiness, redness, infection, formation of cysts and other health problems. 

Dull Skin

As we sleep, skin undergoes a natural rejuvenation and shedding process. If you’ve left the day’s dirt, oils and makeup on, it will affect how skin replenishes. Makeup tends to attract and trap free radicals inside the skin, making it prone to inflammation, premature damage and pigment production.

Skin naturally sheds approximately 50 million skin cells a day. If skin is not properly shedding and exfoliating itself overnight, dead skin cells are left to accumulate on skin’s surface, resulting in a dull and lackluster complexion.

Make removing makeup easy

Here are some ways to ensure you remove your makeup before hitting the sheets:

  • Commit to a skincare routine that works for you. This doesn’t have to be a 12-step ritual. You will be surprised how using a solid cleanser and moisturizer will make an incredible difference in your skin. Soon washing your face will become second nature.
  • Remove makeup right after coming in the door after a long day of work or right after dinner. It is important to do before you get too tired.

Keep a consistent skincare routine

It’s one thing to remove your makeup but it’s also important to properly cleanse skin and apply humectant ingredients (which draw moisture to skin) and occlusive ingredients (which provide a protective layer to seal in hydration) shortly after to clean skin.

  • Wash your face with a gentle facial cleanser, like a cream cleanser. This will gently remove debris while restoring balance and nourishment to skin.
  • Use a natural makeup remover that does not have drying ingredients, harsh chemicals or astringents.

10 Natural Makeup Removers For ALL Skin Types – The Eco Hub.

  • Moisturizing skin is an essential step to every skincare routine. This will deliver hydration and nutrients to skin, while protecting skin from inflammation and irritants.

ei TIP: Apply skincare topicals, like serums and moisturizers, to damp skin to reap all of the anti-aging benefits.

  • Exfoliate skin regularly (depending on skin type, this could be 1-3 times a week). Encouraging skin cell turnover and slouthing off dead skin cells can give skin that extra, glowing oomph. 



  1. What sleeping in your make-up does to your skin: Our shocking experiment exposes what happens when you don’t cleanse before bed. Daily UK.
  2. Subconjunctival Mascara Deposition. DOI:
  3. What is the Life Span of Skin Cells? Sciencing.
  4. Here’s What Can Happen If You Don’t Take Off Your Mascara Before Going To Bed. This woman’s painful eyelid condition shows exactly why it’s a bad idea to sleep in your makeup. Caroline Kee. BuzzFeed.
  5. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury says she wears mascara and eyeliner to sleep to keep the ‘magic alive’ with her husband of 7 years. Insider.