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Is It Bad to Sleep With Makeup On?
Essential Takeaways
If you’ve noticed changes in your skin after sleeping with makeup on, it might be time to invest in products specifically meant to help skin renew and revitalize. Gentle masks and peels can help bring your complexion back and exfoliate any buildup of dead skin cells.

Is It Bad to Sleep With Makeup On?

We’re all guilty of it. We come home from a late night out with friends and the last thing we want to do is stand in front of the bathroom sink to brush our teeth and wash off our makeup. Or maybe we have a new “friend” sleeping over and we’re not yet comfortable taking off our makeup in front of them. So it doesn’t happen.

But when we wake up the next morning, our makeup looks like yesterday’s leftovers—not the morning glow we were hoping for—and our eyes are itchy and irritated from the thick layers of mascara we left on overnight.

For many of us, this was (or maybe still is) a familiar routine. And you may have already suffered skin issues because of it. But if you haven’t yet, and you’re still going to bed with your makeup on, you might be in for a few skin surprises. And if you hang onto the habit, in a few more years things will only get worse.

While we’re told that moisturizing and using SPF are the golden rules of skincare, we’d argue that washing your face at the end of the day is equally important.

Why, you ask? Let’s go into more detail about what sleeping with makeup on actually does to your skin.

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1. Breakouts

It’s not just the act of sleeping with makeup on that causes problems; rather, 24 hours with the same makeup on means you’re trapping the day’s dirt and pollutants in your pores, which can have a snowball effect on your skin. By not washing your face, you’re effectively preventing your skin from repairing itself while you sleep and instead welcoming the acne-causing bacteria to have a party in your pores.

Closeup of woman pointing to a breakout from sleeping with makeup on.

It’s not a coincidence if you wake up with a breakout after passing out with your makeup still on. In what feels like an instant, this can trigger a breakout of bumps and clogged pores, and make your skin generally aggravated.

The habit becomes an even bigger problem if you have sensitive skin, because those products you put on your face could contain fragrances and other irritating ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction or contact dermatitis. This will trigger your skin to become irritated and inflamed if you wear the product for too long.

2. Eye infections

Sleeping with eye makeup on is probably the worst of the worst—and this is coming from someone who has done it and suffered the consequences. Waking up with puffy, red, and even itchy eyes are often the beginning signs of your eyes telling you something was bothering them. Sleeping with eye makeup on can also lead to infections of the eye or eyelid because of a buildup of bacteria.

A common eyelid infection caused by eye makeup is blepharitis, and it’s not a pretty thing. Healing infections like this can take weeks and can potentially become chronic, making your eyes sore, gritty, and dry. If left untreated, it can also lead to complications such as styes, blurred vision, and even damage to the cornea.

3. Premature wrinkles

Being lazy in the nighttime skincare department can also wreak havoc over the long term, leading to premature aging and collagen degradation. Similar to the reason for your breakouts, trapping free radicals (unstable molecules that cause damage to the cells in your body) from environmental pollutants under a layer of makeup that isn’t washed off can cause a breakdown in the healthy collagen in your skin, eventually leading to fine lines and prematurely aged skin.

4. Dull skin

We’ve established that your makeup-filled slumber can lead to clogged pores, and this can ultimately inhibit the absorption of your pricey skincare products. Even haphazardly washing your face can leave makeup residue, which creates a barrier and prevents the beneficial ingredients in your skincare products from being absorbed completely. This means your beloved serum might not be able to nourish your skin the way it is meant to, leading to dull-looking skin.

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What should you do if you sleep with makeup on?

If you slept with your makeup on one too many times or have suffered from one of the above consequences already, you might be wondering what you can do to resolve your skin-related crime.

If you’re having a tough time giving up this habit, start by storing makeup wipes in your nightstand as a safeguard for when you skip your evening skincare routine. Wipes won’t do a thorough job of cleaning your face, but they’ll at least help remove most of your makeup. And first thing in the morning, spend time thoroughly washing your face and consider applying a detoxifying mask to help draw out the impurities.

Importantly, though: Commit to a nightly skincare routine—and this means every night, not just when you feel like it. During sleep, your skin goes through its own repair and renewal processes, and so ensuring your face is clean and well moisturized before bed will only maximize your skin’s healing potential.

A woman cleansing her face to remove makeup.

Importantly, this nighttime routine should include a gentle but effective makeup remover that is fragrance-free and contains soothing agents to completely remove the day’s makeup without irritation. Follow this step with cleanser and any other products in your skincare routine.

If you’ve noticed changes in your skin after sleeping with makeup on, it might be time to invest in products specifically meant to help skin renew and revitalize. Gentle masks and peels can help bring your complexion back and exfoliate any buildup of dead skin cells.

Final thoughts
We talk about skincare a lot here on Kinder Beauty, so if you’re not familiar with the best ways to take care of your skin, we’ve got you covered. This includes introducing you to brands and products that meet our standards of being vegan, cruelty-free, and non-toxic—so you can rest easy knowing you’re doing good for your skin and the animals.


Nicole Axworthy is a Toronto-based writer and author of the vegan cookbook DIY Vegan.

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