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Why Is It Bad to Sleep With Your Makeup On?

Updated on February 27, 2018
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Punkmarkgirl is a freelance writer with a passion for DIY projects, natural health, and makeup featuring the best products for oily skin.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 100 times – DON’T SLEEP WITH YOUR MAKEUP ON! You’ve heard it from your mother, your beautician, blogs, and besties – but exactly why is it so important to remove makeup before bedtime? And why is wearing makeup to bed any different than wearing it while you’re awake?

The Real Reason It’s Bad to Wear Makeup to Bed

It all comes down to this: When you sleep, your body temperature rises. The added heat opens pores, allowing makeup to sink deep into the pore and surrounding hair follicle. As the makeup advances into your skin, it carries oil & bacteria with it. When this sticky mess becomes trapped below the surface level of your skin, acne is caused and blackheads form. Even the pores & hair follicles around your eyes can become plugged with residue from eye shadow. This will cause painful, infected red bumps called Styes, which can take days to heal, and may require antibiotics.

During Sleep Your Body Rejuvenates

Each of our organs heals & rejuvenates itself during sleep - including our skin. Ever notice that when you don’t get enough rest, your skin looks sallow, blotchy & irritated? Instead of having a healthy glow, it will have yellowish undertones and look exceedingly dull. This is because your skin’s cell turnover is not complete, as it hasn’t had a chance to recover from the previous day. When you wear makeup to bed, it hinders your skin from its own recovery process. For the next few days afterwords, you’ll see the aftermath of sleeping in your makeup. Your skin will produce more oil, and blemishes will take longer to heal, and new blemishes might pop up.

Apply Skin Care Products Before Going to Sleep

While it’s harmful to sleep in makeup because body heat causes it to sink down into pores, the rise in body temperature can actually help your skin care products work better. It’s important thoroughly cleanse skin and apply skin care products right before you go to sleep. The heat naturally produced by your body will help beneficial properties of products absorb into pores, giving you maximum results. This goes for any skin care product, including toner, anti-acne creams, and moisturizers. Regardless of the product type, they are all absorbed more efficiently while you sleep.

Oops! I Fell Asleep Wearing Makeup
Oops! I Fell Asleep Wearing Makeup

It’s too late! How to un-do damage after sleeping in your makeup:

So you did the unthinkable & fell asleep with your makeup on. When you wake up, thoroughly remove all eye makeup first. Next, use an exfoliating scrub to remove foundation and shed any dead skin lurking underneath your foundation. Finally, rinse away the exfoliating granules with your favorite face wash. These steps prepare your pores to receive benefits from the products you will apply next.

Apply a deep cleansing face mask to help purge pores of remaining makeup. A clay mask like Body Shop’s Tea Tree Face Mask or Seaweed Clay Mask will usually do the trick. However if you have very large pores, you will find that a peel-off mask will work better than a clay mask. Peel off masks really adhere to pore plugs to assist in removal - think of a peel off mask as a giant Biore Pore Strip for your entire face. Try Shills Black Mask - a very inexpensive and almost exact dupe for the Boscia's Black Mask, and a true holy grail product among those who suffer from clogged pores.

SHILLS Blackhead, Wrinkles, Anti Acne Black Mask. Removes blemishes- Purifyies, Cleanses Skin. Activated Charcoal (50 ml)
SHILLS Blackhead, Wrinkles, Anti Acne Black Mask. Removes blemishes- Purifyies, Cleanses Skin. Activated Charcoal (50 ml)

Remove blackheads and stubborn makeup residue, with this deep cleansing peel-off mask by Shills.


As a Final Step, Kill Remaining Bacteria in Pores

After the mask has been removed, rinse your face with hot water & pat dry. Apply Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner. This will dissolve sebum (oil) that has settled into pores & will also kill bacteria. You can read my article about how to use ACV as a toner here. Alternately, you can use your regular toner, but chances are it won’t have the necessary antiseptic properties to destroy the bacteria. Avoid toners with alcohol, as they can be overly drying to skin, causing it to produce even more oil to balance itself out.

When You Just Can't Avoid Wearing Makeup to Bed

Sometimes, going to bed with your makeup on is almost unavoidable. Maybe you went to a party & passed out the minute you walked in the door…or you went on a last minute camping trip with friends & had nothing to remove it with.

For instances like this, keep a travel size container of antiseptic makeup remover cloths handy, by your bed and in your car. Use 1 pad to remove the initial layer of makeup, and 1 more pad to get rid of any remaining traces. Remover cloths like Aveeno's Clear Complexion Pads are perfect for those with oily or acne prone skin. They will at least kill any surface bacteria & remove the majority of your foundation, until you can thoroughly wash your face.

Why is it bad to sleep with makeup on?
Why is it bad to sleep with makeup on?
Mattify Cosmetics Powder Foundation for Oily Skin
Mattify Cosmetics Powder Foundation for Oily Skin | Source

I Have Breakouts & Want to Wear Makeup to Bed

Stuck in the scenario where you’ve got a new boyfriend & can’t bear the thought of waking up next to him bare-faced? If you feel that you absolutely must sleep with your makeup on in order to hide acne, wear pore-friendly products. Powdered mineral makeup is usually a good option, as it is not thick and heavy like most forms of liquid or cream makeup. It allows pores to obtain oxygen, which is especially important when you suffer from breakouts and enlarged pores.

Also, make sure that your moisturizers and foundations do not contain oil, which can attract dirt and plug pores. Before bed, use a tissue to wipe away any excess foundation and/or an oil blotter sheet to remove excess skin oils that can clog pores during sleep.

Apply Powder Primer to Protect Pores
Apply Powder Primer to Protect Pores

Prevention is Key: How to stop makeup from clogging pores

Take some preemptive steps to prevent pore plugs and acne. Before applying your makeup for the day, be sure to wash with a salicylic-acid based face wash. It will kill any existing bacteria, so you aren’t simply placing makeup over a bacteria - laden complexion.

When skin oil (sebum) pools on your face, and mixes with foundation, it’s a recipe for disaster. You can help prevent this by applying a protective primer, like Mattify Cosmetic’s Ultra Powder, before using foundation. Yet another holy grail product for those with oily, acne prone complexions, the Mattify Powder prevents liquid foundation from seeping into pores. It also absorbs oil to keep you shine free.

*Skin Care Tip

DO NOT use a silicone based gel primer – especially if you won’t be able to wash your face for a long time. Silicone is a very adhesive product that can get buried deep inside of pores, causing cystic acne breakouts. The larger your pores, the more at risk they are for becoming clogged with the silicone gel.

Do You Go to Bed Wearing Makeup?

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