Here's What Sleeping in Makeup Actually Does to Your Skin

woman sleeping in bed

You know the drill: You just came home from a late night of drinking and dancing with your friends, and there it is—your comfy bed, waiting for you to crash into it and pass out until morning. Nowhere in that scenario did we mention that you've washed your face, because, let's face it—the bed was calling your name. Sound familiar? For some of us, it's all too routine, even on regular nights when we're just too tired to stumble into the bathroom and wash the day's look off. If only they'd invent makeup that removed itself…

So while we're told time and time again that sleeping in makeup is one of the worst things you could do to your skin (next to baking in the sun), we decided to investigate what a makeup-filled slumber is actually doing to our complexions. Take a look at the visuals below to see what happens when you don't wash your face, as explained by Dr. Sue Ann Wee of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. 

Premature Aging and Collagen Degradation

Kimmie Perl

Being lazy with your makeup removal can result in premature aging and collagen degradation.  "Sleeping with makeup on is not a good idea," Dr. Wee tells us. "First, makeup can trap dirt and environmental pollutants inside the skin, and this type of environmental stress can result in increased free radicals which can cause DNA mutations, collagen degradation, and, over time, can result in premature aging."

Acne Flare-Ups

Kimmie Perl

You've probably woken up to a breakout or two (or several) after passing out in a full face of makeup, and that's no coincidence. "Prolonged wearing of makeup during sleep also can clog pores, resulting in acne," Dr. Wee says.

Dry Complexion

Kimmie Perl

"Long-term sleeping in makeup can also interfere with the natural shedding or exfoliation process of the skin," Dr. Wee notes. "This can result in a duller, dry, coarse complexion."

Inflamed Eyes and Irritated Skin

Kimmie Perl

"Gently cleansing the skin has been a key factor in reducing the spread of harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungus," Dr. Wee advises. "Eye makeup, especially mascara, can harbor harmful pathogens which can result in inflammation and infections both in and around the eyes. A daily cleansing routine can help reduce contamination of your own makeup as well."

Dr. Wee adds that inflammation can also be a result of an allergic reaction. "Makeup, which is not subject to the same FDA scrutiny as topical medications, may be composed of ingredients that may inflame and irritate skin, especially if left on skin for a prolonged time. The delicate skin around the eye is especially vulnerable. This can result in both allergic and irritant contact dermatitis of the skin or red, itchy, flaky patches."

If you're a faithful face-washer and have only slipped up a few times, don't worry. According to Dr. Wee, "One or two days of not cleansing is unlikely to have long-term negative effects, but developing the habit of not gently cleansing makeup off can compromise the ability of your skin to age well and the overall health of your skin."

Commit to a Skincare Routine

So what can you do to stop all of these skin-related issues from happening? It's quite simple: commit (and we mean really commit) to a nightly skincare routine. (If you don't know where to start, this barebones guide will help.) Says Dr. Wee, "During deep sleep, there is a boost in healing hormones such as growth hormone and melatonin, resulting in more rapid rates of cellular regeneration and repair, and sleeping with makeup on may hinder these processes in many ways, as mentioned previously. Gently cleansing makeup off and applying beneficial cosmeceuticals and moisturizers to the skin help one to maximize the skin's enhanced repair and renewal processes during sleep."

Though, if you frequently fall asleep before hitting the sink and have noticed marked changes in your skin, we love these revitalizing and age-reversing products to help bring our complexions back to life. Keep scrolling to shop our favorite skin saviors.

AHAVA Facial Renewal Peel $38.00

This Dead Sea water peel is the ultimate morning-after godsend. Slather it on, wait about 10 to 15 minutes, wash it off, and those tiny pustules and blackheads will be noticeably smaller.

Bioré Self Heating One Minute Mask $8.00

Activated by water and friction, this charcoal mask quite literally heats up, drawing the impurities out of your skin. It's extremely soothing and effective. 

CosMedix Pure Enzymes $52.00

Fruit enzymes work gently in this gel mask to exfoliate the skin and reveal a brighter, smoother complexion.

iS Clinical Active Serum $135.00

This miracle serum diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as uneven pigmentation. It also helps transform rough skin into a baby-smooth complexion. Not to mention that it's one of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's favorites.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel $88.00

Forget a dull complexion: These pads exfoliate away dead cells and pore buildup for a more even, radiant finish. You'll get your youthful glow back in a matter of minutes.

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