Throughout the day our face collects oil, dust, grime, pollutants from products and the environment, and a day’s worth of dead skin cells. We all know that no matter how exhausted we are at the end of the day, it’s important to wash our face before we hit the sheets. Not doing so means that our skin can’t fully breathe and replenish itself overnight, our pores remain clogged with oil buildup, sweat residue, and grime, and all of this gets rubbed into our skin while we toss around on the pillow. But what does it mean when you add makeup to this mix?
We’ve all laughed at the television programs that show our beautiful heroines in bed at night with full makeup, but we might also be guilty of skipping out on this crucial step after an especially late night, date night, or a night when we might have over-indulged in alcohol and feel lucky to have found our bed at all. So what exactly happens to our skin, and how bad is it to fall asleep with makeup on?
Eye Irritation, Infection, and Blepharitis
One of the most instantly obvious consequences of sleeping in makeup (besides the orange and black pillowcase) is waking up with puffy, itchy eyes that may even be red and irritated. Sleeping with eye makeup on results in eyeliner clogging your tear ducts, which sends them into overdrive in self-defence. Meanwhile, your mascara flakes off and those tiny flakes end up beneath your eyelids, where they scratch and irritate your eyes. Your eyelash follicles are clogged overnight with mascara, which may result in inflammation, and even lead to developing a stye—a small collection of pus from an infection beneath the surface of the eyelid.
Blepharitis is another infection which may be contracted due to sleeping with mascara on. Blepharitis is sometimes caused by an overgrowth of eyelash mites. 80 per cent of humans live in harmony with microscopic arachnids that feast on the oils and dead skin cells around our eyes. While a few of these mites (known as Demodex) can actually benefit the eyes by keeping them free of buildup, an overgrowth of these uninvited guests can result in swollen, crusted eyelids, as they breed, defecate, and lay multiple eggs within the eyelash follicles. Demodex mites are commonly found infecting mascara tubes, and sleeping in your mascara gives them an ideal environment in which to thrive and overpopulate.
When you sleep with makeup on your face, the foundation makeup you are wearing seals in the dust, dirt, grime and natural oil that your face accumulates during the day, locking it into the pores. When your pores are clogged, it can lead to tiny pockets of infection beneath the skin. These become inflamed and result in either open comedones (blackheads) or closed comedones (pimples). Even skin that is not typically acne-prone may breakout in small, rough bumps known as acne cosmetica, commonly caused by sleeping in makeup foundation. Even if you are fortunate enough to escape a breakout, sleeping with clogged pores can lead to enlarged pores—something we all wish to avoid.
If you find yourself having slept in your makeup and spot the early signs of a bad breakout, be sure to thoroughly cleanse your skin and apply a good acne treatment to minimize the negative effects.
While many people are aware that spending the night with a face full of makeup can cause acne breakouts, not as many are aware of more long-term consequences. While accidentally sleeping in your makeup on a rare occasion is unlikely to cause any permanent damage, if it happens on a regular basis, it can actually lead to signs of premature ageing.
Our skin cells develop damaging free radical cells throughout the day, due to environmental factors such as UV rays, pollutants, and products. Leaving these on the face at night results in ageing free radical cells interfering in crucial collagen production, which leads to a compromise in our skin’s structure and flexibility, resulting in fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
It’s important to cleanse your face each evening with a good face wash. If you do miss a night, try to repair the night’s damage by gentle cleansing, exfoliation, and following up with a good moisturizer containing antioxidants like vitamin C to combat free radicals.
Foundation makeup and powder can be drying on the skin. This is especially true of matte finish foundations and powders. Leaving them on your skin overnight can cause skin cell dehydration and dry skin. In fact, if you don’t thoroughly cleanse your skin free of makeup it can block the absorption of the other moisturizing products you apply. Your pores need to be clean and clear in order to fully absorb the benefits of serums, moisturizers, and eye cream. Leaving makeup residue on your skin can lead to dryness, flaking, and even redness and inflammation.
Even if you don’t typically use a chemical or physical exfoliator on your face, you are still receiving the benefits of mild exfoliation when you wash your face. Many facial cleansers contain exfoliating ingredients, and if you use a washcloth you are naturally exfoliating even with gentle scrubbing.
Again, while forgetting an occasional face wash isn’t catastrophic, sleeping in makeup on a regular basis will cause a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. This gives the skin a dull, greyish appearance, and keeps your skin from being able to absorb the hydrating benefits of your moisturizer. When your skin loses its radiance and gains an uneven appearance and texture, you may respond by increasing the amount of makeup you use, thus exacerbating the problem.
While our favourite character on the latest binge-watch may look fantastic waking up with perfectly lined lips and eyes, and skin highlighted and contoured with a full face of makeup, the same isn’t true for us. Waking up in makeup is not only bad for our bedding, but it’s also bad for our skin and eyes. Not to mention being lousy for our self-esteem as we gaze guiltily at the wreckage facing us in the mirror in the morning!