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This Is What Happens To Your Skin When You Sleep With Make-Up On

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Hasina Khatib

After a long day at work, scrabbling around for micellar water can feel like the last thing on your list of priorities. But the payoff for making that trek to the vanity shelf comes in the form of healthier, rejuvenated skin in the long term. For noted dermatologist Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, sleeping with makeup on is among the biggest skincare sins—and with good reason. Ahead, she talks us through what exactly happens to the skin when we hit the bed without removing all layers of makeup...

What You Should Know Before Sleeping With Make-Up On

So, why is taking makeup to bed considered among the most cardinal skincare sins? For starters, sleeping with your makeup can damage the outer protective layer of the skin, opening the door to a vast array of skincare problems. Dr Gupta explains, “Makeup largely consists of chemicals, artificial colours and scents. When left on your skin overnight, it can induce allergic reactions or a condition termed ‘irritant contact dermatitis’. We also need to be mindful of the fact that throughout the day, our skin gets coated in dirt, pollution and other aggressors. With the additional layer of makeup on your skin, pores can get lodged with various contaminants,” she cautions. Sleep isn’t just time for the body to get rest—the skin also uses this time to replenish itself. “By sleeping with a layer of makeup on, you are effectively hindering your skin from regenerating newer, healthier cells by not wiping away the surface layer of beauty products,” she explains.  

So, what are the consequences for failing to wipe your skin squeaky clean before calling it a night? Dr Gupta elaborates, “Makeup is a fast stimulus for clogged pores as it traps impurities, sebum and various particles within your skin which may ultimately cause acne breakouts. If you sleep with your eye makeup on, there is a possibility of getting a sty. Clogged pores also dehydrate your skin and leave it extremely dry with an inability to retain moisture. Wearing heavy lipsticks and leaving them on overnight makes your lips lose their natural moisture, thus making leaving them dry and chapped.”

How To Avoid Sleeping With Make-Up On Your Skin

We’ve all been there—after a long night out on the town with your girls, it can feel all too tempting to crawl under the covers and get some shut-eye. But if you are looking for a little motivation to get your skincare basics done first, Dr Gupta recommends having some makeup remover wipes stashed at hand’s reach next to your bed. “I would not recommend using them frequently as wipes tend to over-exfoliate your skin and can cause irritation on sensitive skin. However, in a pinch, it is a better alternative to sleeping with a full face of makeup on.”

Coconut oil and cleansing balms also make for handy bedfellows for removing makeup and ridding the skin of its impurities, but she recommends following it up with a foaming face wash or cleanser as oils and balms can also clog pores and cause acne flare-ups. “When possible, follow a double-cleansing routine for removing heavily pigmented makeup. It may take an additional ten minutes but it will help you retain your damage-free skin, making it worth the effort,” she signs off.