What Really Happens When You Fall Asleep With Makeup On

It's tempting to skip the wash, but here are a few reasons you should always motivate yourself to remove your makeup before going to bed.

July 5, 2017
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People like to point out the fact that it’s bad to go to sleep without removing your makeup. We don’t want to be just another judgy voice in the chorus, so we’re going to go the extra mile and tell you exactly what’s so bad about sleeping all dolled up.

When you go out for an amazing night on the town and stay up until you basically fall asleep on your feet, you probably aren’t going to feel like spending a few minutes at the bathroom sink repeatedly splashing your face with water.

We all slip up occasionally, but here’s the horrifying truth about what can happen when you regularly forget to remove your makeup before bed. Together, these insights create a pretty compelling argument in favor of cleaning your face at night.

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1. You could stretch out your pores.

Makeup has a tendency to work its way deeper and deeper into pores as you sleep. Not only can old makeup clog pores, sparking a field of blackheads and zits, but it can also fill and actually push your pores further open. At that point, kiss those dreams of invisible pores goodbye.

“Makeup can actually stretch the pore and make it look bigger,” David Orentreich, a dermatologist with Clinique, told Cosmopolitan magazine. We feel like we’re in a constant battle with pore-size as it is. There’s no reason to help out the enemy.

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2. Your complexion could take a hit.

Sleeping in makeup is as bad as they say. The proof? It can cause zits, sure, but it can also develop age lines in your face.

“Sleeping in your makeup can result in unnecessary exposure to the free radicals in the environment, which the makeup holds on to,” Eric Schweiger, a dermatologist with the Clear Clinic, told the Huffington Post. “Free radicals cause the breakdown of healthy collagen, which results in fine lines on the skin. Additionally, makeup can clog the pores while you sleep, resulting in the development of acne.”

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3. Your skin could look dull and lifeless.

We all strive for bright, radiant skin. When you sleep in makeup, you spoil your chances of attaining this look. While you sleep, all the gross stuff in your pores, like old oils and dead skin cells, push to the outer layers and give your face a dull finish.

“Oils and dead skin cells on the outermost layers of the skin are matted up against the pillow all night, and natural turnover of this dull epidermal layer is diminished,” celebrity dermatologist Annie Chiu told Good Housekeeping. “Regular cleansing and exfoliation are integral to revealing healthy new skin cells and allowing the natural repair processes of the skin to occur.”

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4. You can even get itchy, irritated skin on your face.

Even if you’re not allergic to the specific makeup you wear, the chemicals in these products might start to irritate your skin over time. Like, say, the six hours you’re asleep at night.

“The skin is good at tolerating a lot of things, but it can become reactive,” Orentreich said. “You don’t want to leave things on longer than you have to.”

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So next time you’re tempted to collapse into bed with a fully made-up face, force yourself into the bathroom (or at the very least use a makeup remover towelette). Your skin will thank you!

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