How Bad Is It to Sleep in Your Makeup?

Updated: Apr. 13, 2020

A dermatologist explains how wearing your makeup to sleep can seem harmless, but it can take a toll on your complexion and eye health.


We’ve all been there: You work late, stay out late, take an evening flight, or just doze off watching Netflix. No matter the reason, you end the day too exhausted to take off your makeup before crashing into bed. Although it may seem harmless, hitting the sheets with a face full of war paint can do more than just mess up your sheets.

How makeup affects your complexion

The first thing you might notice is the toll it takes on your complexion—we’re talking about acne, skin irritation, and premature aging. “Sleeping with makeup is really bad, as your pores get will get clogged,” says Samer Jaber, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Mt. Sinai Hospital and a board-certified dermatologist with Washington Square Dermatology in New York City. “It can significantly increase breakouts, acne, skin dryness, and irritation.”

Your skin uses sleep as a time to recover from the various stresses during the day. It also uses sleep to shed and regenerate its cells. By leaving a layer of makeup on, you’re creating a barrier to your skin’s natural exfoliation and replenishment process. What’s more, makeup actually clings to free radicals in the environment (often from pollution), so not washing off makeup gives these harmful impurities an even greater opportunity to damage your skin. Free radicals are known to break down collagen, which over time results in fine lines and premature aging.

How makeup affects your eyes

Sleeping with makeup on can especially damage the most sensitive areas of your face—namely your eyes. Snoozing in full eye makeup puts you at risk for eye inflammation, infections, eyelid redness, and corneal abrasions. This can stem from makeup particles rubbing against the surface of your eye. Because the eye area is so delicate, you really need to remove your mascara, liner, and shadow to avoid waking up with a nasty stye or worse.

The importance of makeup removal

Dr. Jaber steadfastly recommends that women wash their face in the evening. This will help to make sure all makeup is erased from their skin. “How to wash and clean your skin is up to each individual patient, and depends on skin type,” Dr. Jaber says. “For those with more oily skin, foaming washes and wipes may be more effective. For those with sensitive skin, a gentle non-foaming cleanser may be better.” At the very least, give your face a once-over with a cleansing wipe like Yes To Cucumbers Facial Cleansing Towelettes—they’re oil-free, non-comedogenic, and they’ll whisk away dirt, sweat, and makeup (no rinse required). Check out the natural face cleansers you can make yourself.