Why Sleeping With Makeup Is Bad (And How To Remove It)

a woman putting on makeup

Why Sleeping With Makeup Is Bad (And How To Remove It)

Written By:

Thea Christie

You may have heard that one of the biggest beauty blunders is forgetting to remove your makeup before bed. But why? Sleeping in makeup can cause countless problems including inflammation, breakouts, tired-looking skin and dullness. It’s crucial to remove your makeup thoroughly before your head hits the pillow to prevent skin issues. We have gathered all the skin care tips you need to learn how to properly remove your makeup.

What Happens When You Don’t Remove Makeup? | How To Remove Your Makeup | After You’ve Removed Your Makeup

What Happens When You Don’t Remove Makeup?

Is it really so bad to sleep in your makeup? While one slip up won’t ruin your complexion, consistently skipping your skin care routine can cause cumulative damage. Here’s a breakdown of why you should not sleep with makeup on and what happens to your skin when you don’t give it a thorough cleanse before bed.

Free Radical Damage

During the day, your skin accumulates oxidative stress through contact with pollution, blue light and UV rays. These environmental stressors expose your skin to free radicals, highly unstable molecules that attack otherwise healthy cells. As a result, you may notice skin dullness, inflammation and premature aging. Products like silicone primers, foundations and powders may be key to your makeup routine. However, these occlusive cosmetics can trap debris and oil, preventing your skin from repairing itself. Our Product Support Representatives tell us: “Free radicals cling to makeup, causing a number of skin issues including collagen breakdown.” When you sleep in your makeup, you deprive your skin of the opportunity to recover naturally from the day’s oxidative stress. As a result, damage to structural proteins, like collagen and elastin, continues, and your skin takes on the visible signs of aging more quickly.

Dull Skin

There’s truth to the term “beauty sleep”: Your skin performs its most important regenerative functions overnight. While you sleep, growth hormones kick into gear and stimulate skin cell renewal. This triggers the skin’s natural turnover process whereby dead and damaged skin cells are shed from the surface and replaced by new, healthy cells. Makeup interferes with this cycle by trapping dead skin and preventing your skin from sloughing them off. 

We naturally shed close to 50 million skin cells a day. When skin cell turnover is interrupted, dead cells aren’t efficiently removed and accumulate on the skin’s surface. This contributes to a dull, dry and lackluster complexion. Dendy Engelman, MD tells SELF: “When we’re not exfoliating or removing those top surface cells as quickly, the light doesn’t reflect off the skin as nicely as it does when it’s very clean and properly exfoliated. Even if your skin doesn’t break out, it is going to look older, rougher and less radiant.”

Clogged Pores And Breakouts

The fact that comedogenic products (products with ingredients likely to clog pores) lead to breakouts is a no-brainer. The potential for acne is amplified when these types of cosmetics are left on overnight. Wearing makeup to bed traps these impurities under the skin, increasing the risk of a breakout. Breakouts or acne worsens when oil, debris and bacteria combine, causing infection and inflammation.

In fact, there’s a type of acne that is caused specifically by makeup. Acne cosmetica is caused by pore-clogging makeup and shows up as tiny bumps and whiteheads on the cheeks, chin and forehead. If you’re going to sleep with a full face of makeup on, you’re not only preventing these breakouts from clearing but also contributing to their emergence in the first place. 

Irritation And Inflammation

Makeup’s occlusive effect also contributes to skin irritation and inflammation. Heavy cosmetics form a barrier overtop of the skin that locks in environmental irritants such as chemical agents, allergens and pollution. Cosmetics themselves often include synthetic ingredients and fragrances that can be irritating to the skin, especially when left on for a prolonged time. 

Inflammation is the skin’s first line of defense against external stress. When faced with harmful stimuli, the skin issues an immune response that rushes blood to the area. While this is meant to speed up healing, it also results in uncomfortable symptoms such as heat, swelling and redness. For some skin types, this can be temporary but for those with sensitive skin, it can cause ongoing discomfort in the form of blotchiness, itchiness and dryness.

How To Remove Your Makeup

By now, you have a handle on the importance of removing your makeup before bed, but how do you do it properly? If you’ve ever detected a trace of mascara smeared under your eye or a smudge of foundation on your pillowcase (even after you’ve washed your face), you’re probably not making the most of your cleansing routine. Follow these tips to ensure you clear every last bit of makeup from your complexion.

Avoid Cleansing Wipes

First, skip the cleansing wipes. While they may be convenient, most makeup wipes won’t fully remove your makeup. As James C. Marotta, MD tells Good Housekeeping, “very few makeup wipes contain ingredients that can actually break down all of your face oils, makeup and gunk on your skin, so you’re really just rubbing bacteria, irritants and makeup wipe residue around your skin.” Plus, many cleansing wipes contain chemical ingredients and preservatives that can irritate the skin and cause dryness.   

Double Cleanse

The best way to remove makeup is to double cleanse. This method is crucial for breaking down makeup as well as other surface impurities such as dirt and oil. This cleansing technique begins with an oil-based cleanser and is then followed by a second cleanser of your choice (we suggest a gel-based option like our Stone Crop Gel Wash). If you have an oily skin type, don’t let cleansing oil scare you. Cleansing formulas with natural oils will not only clear makeup, but also lift excess sebum from your skin’s surface. 

These are the steps to perform a double cleanse:

  1. Break down makeup with a cleansing oil or balm. The oil in the cleanser will solubilize oil-based products like foundation and mascara so they lift easily from your skin’s surface. Warm a small bit of Stone Crop Cleansing Oil or Wildflower Cleansing Balm in your hand. Then, use your fingers to swipe it across your eyelids and lips and use circular motions to lightly massage it over your face. Rinse clean with lukewarm water. 
  2. Remove remaining impurities with a second cleanser. Now that you’ve loosened and lifted your makeup, you need to sweep away stubborn dirt, grime and bacteria that are left on the skin. Simply apply your favorite cleanser to wash your skin more deeply and target specific skin concerns such as acne or aging. With this two-step process, you clear both types of impurities that can clog pores, dull your skin and contribute to premature aging. 

Ready to start double cleansing? Watch this video for tips and product recommendations from our Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar:

Don’t Forget Your Neck And Hairline

You may have removed (what feels like) an inch of foundation from your face, but be sure you haven’t skipped your neck and hairline. If you stop short of these easy-to-miss areas, you can accumulate makeup residue that clogs pores and leads to breakouts. Pull back your hair with a headband and extend your face wash past your jaw to ensure you catch every last bit of makeup.

Remove Eye Makeup 

Waterproof mascara and eyeliner can be notoriously difficult to remove. If you’ve done a double cleanse, you’ve probably removed most of your eye makeup, but it’s worth touching up the area with a natural and organic makeup remover. 

Before you tackle your eye area, remember that the skin there is thinner and more delicate, so it’s important to be gentle. Rather than rub vigorously, saturate a cotton pad with remover and hold it over each eye for ten seconds. This will give it time to break up and dissolve the make up products before you gently wipe it off. Tackle the eye line and inner corners with a cotton bud to complete your cleanse.

Use Steam

Still not feeling quite clean? You can give your skin a facial steam to deepen your cleanse. Steam softens surface debris and releases any leftover grime and makeup that is still trapped in your pores after cleansing. Follow these steps for a facial steam at home:

  1. Fill your sink or a bowl with hot water.
  2. Place a large towel over your head.
  3. Hover your face five to ten inches away from the steam. Lower or raise your head for more or less heat.
  4. Steam for five to ten minutes (we recommend two minute intervals so you don’t overheat).

What To Do After You’ve Removed Your Makeup

Makeup removal gives your skin a clean slate, but it needs to be followed with proper care to maintain your skin’s health and resilience. After cleansing, continue your skin care routine with these essential steps:

  • Apply a toner or facial mist to hydrate your skin and prep it for the skin care products that follow.
  • Use a serum, oil or concentrate to target specific skin concerns and conditions. 
  • Moisturize to lock in hydration and protect your skin’s lipid barrier. 
  • Tap on an eye cream for a bright and smooth eye area. 
  • Apply SPF to protect your skin from the drying and aging effects of UV rays. 

Which products are part of your cleansing routine? Visit an Eminence Organics Spa Partner for skin care recommendations from a licensed esthetician! Use our Spa Locator to find a spa near you. 

This article was originally written in August 2019.


clogged pores, skin care tips, toner, Serum, Moisturizer

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