Sleeping In Your Makeup Is The Bad Skin Habit Ruining Your Skin

bad habit skincare

This article originally appeared in the November 5th, 2020 edition of  *Huda Beauty*

Written by Wendy Gould, Photography by Vital Abigalow

Holler if you’ve ever climbed into bed without first washing your face. Girl, we’ve all been there – sometimes after a lengthy inner dialogue about the merits of simply tucking under the covers versus hitting the sink. The truth is that you’re not going to ruin your life by forgetting to wash every once in a while. However, if you’re routinely going to bed without a proper cleansing, then you are, indeed, setting yourself up for some major skin upsets. Let’s discuss.

Wearing Makeup to Bed Can Cause Zits Galore

The importance of washing your face before going to bed has been ingrained in our minds since adolescence. As you know, our skin accumulates gunk, grime, and oil throughout the day—and that’s before applying skincare products or swiping on your foundation, blush, and eye makeup.

The bottom line is that what goes on must come off at the end of the day, and that requires a bit of manual labor. (The good news is that we’re talking five minutes tops). Regularly skipping this step can result in zits and dull skin real quick.

“Sleeping with your makeup can clog pores by increasing the chance of attracting acne-causing bacteria that could lead to breakouts,” explains Dr. Marie Hayag, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics. “Additionally, not washing your face means that dead skin cells aren’t removed, reducing the natural rate of our skin’s cell turnover. Ultimately, this leads to a dull-looking complexion when you wake up in the morning.”

She notes that thick, oil-based primers and foundations are the worst offenders in regard to falling asleep with product on. This is because they have a greater tendency to clog pores and cause breakouts. Makeup containing comedogenic ingredients will also have a harsher impact on your skin.

(That’s not to say you shouldn’t also be washing off your light BB creams and tinted moisturizers; they can cause issues, as well. However, if you’re wearing those thicker cosmetics then it’s harder to get away with skipping even a single night.)

Forgetting to Wash Your Makeup Off Can Also Expedite Aging

Yep. Dr. Hayag confirms that the rumors are true about wearing makeup to bed causing signs of premature aging

“Dirt, makeup, and other environmental pollutants inevitably get trapped against the skin,” she says. “All of these factors generate free radicals, which lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the components of your skin that allow it to look youthful. By wearing makeup to bed, you are accelerating the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, a process that otherwise takes much longer.”

Umm… who just reached for their cleanser?

Sleeping in Eye Makeup is Not Ideal, Either

Let’s say you woke up, applied your favorite skin cream and SPF, and put on a swipe of mascara or a touch of eye shadow. For the sake of your eye health, Dr. Hayag says it’s important to remove even that small amount of makeup, as well.

“Sleeping in eye makeup – especially eyeliner and mascara – can clog the tiny hair follicles and oil glands on your eyelids,” she explains. “When this occurs, bacteria accumulate and cause inflammation resulting in small, uncomfortable bumps on the eyelids called styes. Additionally, small flecks of eye makeup can get into your eyes, causing irritation or even abrasions to the cornea.”

How to Get Better at Remembering to Wash Your Face

Forgetting to wash your makeup off at night is a tricky habit to kick. The key is to make it as easy to do (and to remember) as possible. That might mean keeping a cleanser in your shower if you’re a night showerer or setting a little alarm on your phone an hour before you usually go to sleep.

“For those late nights when you can’t follow a traditional washing routine, [you can] use face wipes to clean your face as thoroughly as possible,” suggests Dr. Hayag. You could even keep them by the couch or on your nightstand for easy access. (Note that this shouldn’t be your go-to cleansing method, but rather an exception on nights when you’re really struggling to get to the sink.)

It also helps to reframe face washing in your mind as a therapeutic moment of “me time.” Find a cleanser that you look forward to using every night and come up with a soul-satisfying routine that’s a joy to follow. Maybe you use a cleanser that feels luxuriously silky on your face, or perhaps you always follow up your cleansing with a heavenly-scented cream. Check out our guide to finding the best cleanser here.

Sometimes, simply reminding yourself that your skin will look better in the long run by taking five minutes out of your day will kick you into gear. Whatever it takes, know that your skin will thank you today, tomorrow, and in the long run.