Why is it Bad to Sleep In Your Makeup?

why it is bad to sleep in your makeup

Why is it bad to sleep in your makeup?? It's a question every makeup wearing person ponders on those nights when you're really exhausted and tempted to just roll into bed. But the answer becomes really clear when you think about 'why' it's important to wash off the day's dirt, germs, pollution, makeup, oil and stale product residue.

When you sleep in your makeup, everything that got onto your skin during the day remains, including dirt, pollution, germs, dead skin cells, stale product - and makeup. 

When you don’t wash your face at night and remove your makeup, all the ‘schmutz’ on your skin:

  1. creates dull skin by sticking to dead cells that would naturally exfoliate,
  2. migrates into your skin’s pores, has additional time to penetrate through your skin's barrier into your skin,
  3. and it's means that you skipped your really important nightly skin care routine.

Top 3 reasons why it's bad to sleep in your makeup:

1. Sleeping with makeup leads to dull flakey skin. 

In my 30+ years practicing dermatology, I know clinically (by looking at a complexion) if a person is taking the time to wash their skin twice a day. Lack of regular skin cleansing leads to a build-up that makes your complexion look dull, large flakes of skin will be stuck down to the skin in matter, sebum and product residue and pores are more likely to be clogged. The skin's texture will be irregular and 'heavy' - basically, the opposite of glowing and radiant. The fix is a good washing, twice a day.

why it is bad to sleep in your makeup

You would be shocked at the incidental amount of makeup and product dermatologist's see under the microscope when we look at skin biopsy specimens from people who don't cleanse their skin well - gunk in pores and between excessive dead skin flakes, oil droplets from product, powder particles, more mites, yeast, and bacteria all packed in with this schmutz! I've found it easy to correlate with how a person's skin looked during their physical exam, and with how well the cleanse their facial skin. 

An occasional night spent in your makeup is not that big of a deal, but a habit of it will catch up with your complexion.

Sleeping in your makeup can also lead to eye irritation in the morning

Sleeping in your eye makeup may irritate eyes. Your lash line contains productive little oil glands that lubricate your eyes to keep them healthy. If you don't wash your makeup off each night, the oily buildup can clog and inflame your glands. This includes waxes, pigments, and mineral particles found in your makeup.

2. Sleeping in your makeup leaves air pollution on your skin and this can lead to free radical skin damage.

Air pollution is now well recognized as a source of oxidative stress to your skin. It leads to free radical damage and premature skin aging. Air pollution enters your skin through your skin and through your pores. Pollutants known to damage skin include the well-known pollutants from burning of fossil fuels from vehicles and industry. It also includes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and cigarette smoke from indoor air pollution, particulate matter and heavy metals. Basically, you want to remove pollutants from your skin twice daily to reduce free radical damage.

Beyond premature skin aging, exposure to air pollution can worsen skin pigment problems such as sun spots and melasma. It has been shown to play a role in worsening of eczema, psoriasis and acne. It also increases the risk of skin cancer. The bottom line is that you want to wash pollutants off your skin - including right before you turn in for the night.

4. Sleeping in your makeup means you skipped your bedtime skin care routine

Your bedtime skin care routine is really important for getting great results

A habit of washing twice a day is important. This preps your skin for twice daily application of products designed to improve your complexion and maintain skin health. Doctors indicate twice daily by the prescription jargon ‘B.I.D.’

B.I.D. in Latin translates to “bis in die” or twice a day.

Your skin care should be B.I.D. Some products are best applied in the day, and others in the night. With B.I.D skin care, night time is the best time for some of the most important skin care products.

Dermatologists recommend that your skin care routine is done twice a day! - Dr. Bailey

You always want to wash your skin first before applying products that target your skin problems or goals. This enhances percutaneous absorption of the important active ingredients in your skin care routine.

Related helpful tips: read Dr. Bailey's trusted advice for makeup and skin care best practices.

How to stop sleeping in your makeup:

why you need to wash your face at night

Find a facial cleanser that you LOVE and you'll want to use it.

Create an easy and pleasurable bedtime face cleansing routine.

Use a gentle cleanser that removes makeup. Clean skin is then ready to absorb your nightly skin care products - and this leads to great looking skin in the morning.

Best facial cleansers to remove makeup at night 

best cleanser to remove makeup

If you struggle with clogged pored or have tough to remove makeup, use a cleanser with gentle eco-friendly exfoliating beads in a soap-free base such as my Triple Action Exfoliating Cleanser. The salicylic acid helps to deeply cleanse pores, and glycolic acid will help you awake in the morning with a bright and fresh complexion.


If you have extremely sensitive skin use a cleanser like my Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser. This cleanser is even ideal for people struggling with rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis. 

Remember the importance of your nightly bedtime skin care 

Nighttime is the best time to apply therapeutic products that multitask while you sleep (think retinoids!). It's also the best time to use helpful products that may not look so good on your skin during the day rich as rich moisturizing creams or acne products.

As a dermatologist, I know the importance of my bedtime routine and B.I.D skin care steps.

Dermatologists agree that retinoids are the most powerful products to fight skin aging.

best retinol to use at night after removing makeup

(Source: National Library of Medicine)

Retinoids are the most important anti-wrinkle fighters. They also do heavy lifting for pigment skin problems like age spots and melasma. In an acne routine, they help to unclog pores and improve acne and acne scarring. 

Basically, you always want to sleep with a retinoid and every dermatologist I know does! - Dermatologist Dr. Bailey

Retinoids are in the vitamin A family that include retinol and prescription tretinoin (Retin A). My Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is made with the highest allowed pharmaceutical grade retinol combined with green tea antioxidants to help fight free radical skin damage (like from pollution). Because retinoids break down with light doctors recommend you apply your retinoid at bedtime - after washing your face! 

What is my (a dermatologist) nightly skin care routine at the delicate age of 58 (now 64 as of the last update on this article)?

  1. Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser (I use Triple Action Cleanser in the morning)
  2. Naturally Hydrating Pore Minimizing Toner (this gives my skin a second level of 'clean' and my skin loves the hydrating ingredients) Get Naturally Hydrating Pore Minimizing Toner and Extremely Gentle Cleanser in my Skin Cleanse Zen Kit.
    Dermatologist recommended bedtime skin cleansing routine
  3. Retinol Ultra-Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Cream
  4. Natural Body and Face Butter Cream or Daily Moisturizing Face Cream mixing this with a few drops of my Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil. 

The bottom line with why it is bad to sleep in your makeup: 

It's important for more than just getting off makeup; washing your face at bedtime keep you from having dull skin, removes pollution, dirt, germs and debris and prepares your skin for your important bedtime skin care routine.