Sleeping With Makeup On? Here’s 4 Reasons Not To Do It

Written by: Rebecca Eaton



Time to read 6 min

We’re all guilty of coming home from a big night out only to fall straight into bed without giving our nighttime skincare ritual a second thought. While you may get away with it once or twice, believe it or not, the long-term effects of sleeping with makeup on can have dire consequences on the health and appearance of your skin.

While we sleep, our skin goes into recovery mode to help repair, regenerate, and refresh. As such, falling asleep with clean and nourished skin can be the difference between a radiant, healthy glow and inflamed, dry, and aged-looking skin. Wondering how sleeping with makeup on impacts your skin health and how you can create a nourishing evening ritual that optimises your appearance? Keep reading!

The quick guide:

A lady applying foundation with a makeup brush from her hand

The top 4 reasons to avoid sleeping with makeup on

1. It can increase acne breakouts  

There is likely nothing revolutionary about this point. We’re all aware that sleeping with makeup on clogs your pores, often resulting in acne breakouts. Yet, to understand the gravity of this concern, let’s take a closer look at what occurs to the skin when we don’t cleanse our face at night. 

Whether you’re wearing makeup or not, your face is exposed to pollutants and dirt daily. What occurs to your skin overnight is a fundamental process that helps rid your skin of unwanted bacteria that could cause damage. As such, while we sleep, our skin regenerates by shedding dead skin cells and building new ones. However, if your pores are already clogged as a result of sleeping with makeup on, it’s much harder for your skin to remove dead skin cells, further clogging your pores and resulting in acne. 

Wondering how exactly acne occurs? Healthy skin produces sebum (oil) in the sebaceous glands, which is excreted, along with keratinocytes, by the pores onto the skin’s surfaces during regeneration. However, acne breakouts occur when the oil, hair, and keratinocytes get stuck together inside the pore, clogging the follicles. With this, bacteria, and in this case, makeup, contaminate the follicles, causing blackheads and whiteheads. 

2. It may cause premature ageing

We bet you didn’t see that one coming, right? Believe it or not, skipping your nighttime cleansing routine traps bacteria and makeup in your skin due to environmentally-induced oxidative damage (the factor responsible for ageing), causing your skin barrier to break down. As your skin barrier plays a critical role in protecting you from unwanted chemicals, bacteria, allergens, water loss and more, it can have a detrimental impact when compromised — including premature ageing. 

Over time, the cumulative impact of free radical damage, which interferes with the natural skin renewal process, causes healthy collagen to break down, resulting in early signs of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin sagging. Dermatologists also suggest that frequent makeup application and reapplication may trap free radicals and push them further into your skin, resulting in increased oxidative stress, thus, ageing. 

Always invest in good quality makeup, and double cleanse each night before bed. Your skin will thank you for it! 

A close up photo of a lady wearing dark eye makeup

3. It will make your skin look dull

As you’re likely well aware by now, sleeping with makeup on interferes with your skin’s natural shedding and renewal process. 

Unfortunately, when our skin cannot adequately shed dead skin cells and regenerate new ones, it results in dull, aged, and textured skin. Wondering why? Dead skin cells aren’t reflective or vibrant like live skin cells, which gives off the appearance of dull and aged skin. 

It’s important to note that while trapped pores and unwanted bacteria can increase oxidative damage, enhancing premature ageing, dull-looking skin can also make you appear older than you are. 

4. It can cause irritation and inflammation

It’s not uncommon for certain makeup products and brands to utilise ingredients that compromise skin health, particularly when exposed over a prolonged period. 

Ingredients like parabens, dimethicone, dyes, talc, propylene, and fragrance can trap oil in your pores, which may result in breakouts and make your skin more susceptible to inflammation, irritation, redness, and dryness.

While all makeup formulas and brands will vary in quality, the take-home message is that they aren’t designed to put your skin health first, meaning you’re compromising your skin by allowing potentially harmful ingredients to penetrate it for an extended period. For example, fragrances are one of the most common allergy-causing culprits, while PEGs are penetration enhancers that make it easier for toxins to penetrate the skin deeply. Likewise, parabens mimic oestrogen, which boasts a range of potential skin health concerns. Your nighttime skin ritual should be in favour of encouraging optimal skin health by focusing on nourishing and hydrating it.

A face powder compact sitting on a bench

3 must-know secrets to optimise your nighttime skincare ritual 

1. Turn your evening skincare regime into a sustainable ritual 

Whether you’ve had a big night out on the town or you’re simply feeling too exhausted to even think about anything other than bed, optimal skin health is built on discipline and positive habits. Create a non-negotiable skincare evening ritual and get into the habit of prioritising it, whatever the day or night holds.

While it might require a bit of discipline in the initial stages, like all habits, it will eventually become an automatic action that requires no internal negotiation. To help turn it into a routine, we recommend trying the following tips:

  • Set yourself a ‘skin ritual’ timer every evening — Pick a time that suits you and set your alarm. Allow yourself a specific amount of time to focus solely on cleansing and nourishing your skin. During this time, give all your attention to the task at hand, ensuring no distractions or half-hearted effort. Over time, you’ll learn to appreciate and welcome this ritual. 
  • Educate yourself — The secret to optimal skin health is adequate knowledge. Whether you want to do your own research or turn to an expert (like our in-clinic skin specialists at Dr Tanya Skin Clinic), empowering and equipping yourself with the education to succeed will help you feel more invested in the outcome. Take it upon yourself to get familiar with your skin type and understand what it needs to thrive. 
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew — Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will your dream skin. Be patient with the process and start with sustainable small steps, building it as you progress. 

2. Commit to a double cleansing routine

When it comes to ensuring your makeup is adequately removed, we always recommend double cleansing in the evening — particularly if you wear makeup or sunscreen during the day. In this case, we generally recommend that the first cleanse include an oil-based cleanser, followed by a gentle and nourishing cream-based cleanser like Dr Tanya’s Miracle Cream Cleanser

Wondering why? Oil dissolves oil, meaning a good quality oil cleanser will help to effectively remove makeup, dirt, sunscreen, and sebum residue on the skin. More importantly, it does all of this without stripping the skin or leaving it feeling dry. Secondly, our Miracle Cream Cleanser helps to stimulate and brighten skin tone, neutralise pigmentation and inflammation, protect your skin from environmental pollutants, lock in moisture, and offer anti-ageing benefits. 

3. Invest in the right evening serums

It’s easy not to prioritise skin health in the evenings when you haven’t invested in the right toolkit. Believe it or not, your PM skincare ritual, particularly your serums, is one of the essential elements of your overall skin routine. 

As aforementioned, our skin is hard at work shedding, regenerating, and repairing while we sleep. This vital process allows our skin to remain hydrated, youthful, vibrant, and radiant. And your skincare products are important in aiding or hindering this process. With the help of a quality serum, you can deeply penetrate your skin to deliver anti-ageing, rejuvenating, and restoring ingredients for optimal results.

Why exactly? While sleeping, your body temperature lowers, and your circulatory system takes it up a notch. Essentially, your body’s increased blood circulation and temperature increase the delivery and absorption of nutrients to vital organs, including your skin — the largest organ. This means adopting the right nighttime skincare ritual will help to repair your skin while you sleep. Secondly, collagen production is most active during sleep, which is essential for your skin’s structure and youthful appearance. As such, adding a nighttime serum can support cell reproduction and anti-ageing benefits. 

For example, Dr Tanya’s Night Repair Serum is designed to boost hydration and stimulate cell renewal while helping to treat acne, pigmentation, and dark spots while you sleep. This 5-star doctor-formulated product contains Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), and Glycolic and Lactic Acids. Simply apply your serum to cleansed skin in circular motions until fully absorbed, followed by your go-to moisturiser (psst… this serum pairs perfectly with the Dr Tanya Day and Night Cream for optimal results).