What Are the Effects of Sleeping In Make-up?

4 Min Read | By Sophia Rimmer

Last Modified 20 June 2024   First Added 31 May 2024

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

We’ve all heard the horrors of sleeping in make-up, with everyone’s mothers gasping at the thought of doing such a thing.  However, are these stories true or are they made up? And if they are correct, how risky is it to sleep while wearing make-up? We talk to experts to find out about the consequences of some shut-eye while wearing make-up and if any types of make-up are safer for your skin than others.

How Risky is Sleeping in Make-Up?

We’ve all got in from a night out a little worse for wear and hit the sheets without a single thought of removing make-up. But does that come with damaging consequences? Board-certified Dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung seems to think so:

‘Sleeping in make-up is a terrible idea. Our skin is bombarded with dust and dirt throughout the day, and much of it sticks to the makeup and sebum in our skin. Leaving all that on overnight will damage the skin. It has been linked to skin discolouration and the breakdown of collagen. Also, if you’re prone to acne, sleeping in make-up will only cause more clogged pores, irritation, and pimples.

The double whammy is that when you sleep in your make-up, you’re also robbing your skin of the precious time it needs overnight to recover and regenerate from the daytime. So, the end result is dull, dry, wrinkly skin.’

Related: What Happens To Your Body During 8 Hours Of Sleep?

An image showing crushed make-up

Is Some Make-Up Safer Than Others?

If you’re still feeling brave enough to kip with your face on, maybe certain cosmetics are less dangerous and can therefore stay the night? Editor for Try Healthier, Alina Baciu, considers the effects of sleeping with various make-up products on. She states:

‘Foundations and everything from this class (powders, concealers, etc) are generally very thick and completely suffocate the skin. Leaving all of the foreign particles these products catch during the day on your skin can lead to dehydration, poor micro-circulation, collagen breakdown, high levels of inflammation and ultimately clogged pores.’

But what about sleeping in make-up such as mascara, maybe that’s a different story? Unfortunately not, according to Baciu:

‘Sleeping with mascara on is another thing I strongly advise against. The sticky formula of most mascaras also ensures that a lot of dust and bacteria is caught and kept close to your eye.  Particles of the mascara can be very irritating for your hair follicles, and can even go as far as to clog them and cause inflammation of your eyelid and even conjunctivitis. Just to add insult to injury, mascaras also tend to dry the lashes, making them brittle and ease to break.’

An image of a mascara smudge

However, Dr. Jessie Cheung suggests a safer alternative in mineral make-ups.

‘Mineral make-ups would be safer than oil-based foundations and primers, since the powders are less comedogenic. Sleeping in lip gloss is a safer option than lipstick, since the drying waxes in lipstick can lead to chapped lips after prolonged overnight wear. But lips recover quickly, so you can worry about them last if you’re really too tired.’

How to Remove Make-Up

While everyone will have their different methods when it comes to skin care, it’s best to stick to a daily routine so it becomes habit. To ensure you’ve removed all of your make-up and can go to bed with a clean face and conscience, start with a reliable make-up removing cleanser. When removing stubborn mascara, it’s recommended to completely soak a piece of cotton wool in eye make-up remover and hold it on your eyelid for a few moments to loosen the make-up. Don’t rub your eyes as this can lead to irritation, just gently wipe away. Wash your face afterwards with a facial wash and follow with a moisturiser to soften your skin. Among the substitutes experts recommend is coconut oil, especially if you suffer from dry skin.

An image of a woman removing her make-up

Related: 6 Beauty Bloggers Weigh In On The Best Overnight Treatments For Your Skin

But, if you know you’re not likely to commit to this kind of regime after a long day, fear not. A final tip is to just leave a pack of make-up wipes next to your bed, so you can remove the day’s dirt while in bed.

Sleeping in make-up can have serious consequences for your skin, from clogged pores to premature aging. While some products may be slightly less harmful, it’s best to remove all make-up before bed to ensure your skin stays healthy and rejuvenated. Prioritising a nightly skincare routine can help maintain clear, vibrant skin and prevent long-term damage. Discover the importance of an evening routine to help you prepare for a restful night’s sleep.


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