We’ve all heard it before—sleeping in your makeup is the ultimate skincare sin. While it’s true that sleeping in your makeup is far from ideal, I actually don’t think it’s as bad as it’s made out to be. But wait…hear me out.
The way I see it, it isn’t sleeping in makeup that’s so bad for skin. Instead, it’s the fact that when most people sleep in their makeup, they go 24 hours without washing their face. This may sound like an unnecessary distinction, but I do think it matters! Keep reading to learn when I think it’s okay to sleep in makeup plus my favorite tip for when you’re feeling “lazy” about your skincare.
Why I Don’t Think Sleeping in Makeup is as Bad as It’s Made Out to Be
As I said, I don’t think the act of sleeping in your makeup once in a while is that detrimental. People talk about it like your makeup is harming your skin, but if this were true we wouldn’t be wearing it for 8-12 hours almost every day! You definitely want to use high-quality makeup that’s compatible with your skin type (check out my list of the best foundations for oily skin), but the ingredients in makeup aren’t harming you. I even recommend that people wear some sort of foundation makeup every single day of the year as part of their “skincare” because it provides additional sun protection.
Pro Tip—Focus on the Importance of Cleansing Every 12 Hours
Where I really think people really get into trouble is when they go 24 hours without cleansing their skin. This would mean you wake up, wash your face, do your makeup (or not), then go to sleep without washing your face. Regardless of whether or not you wear makeup during the day, this is definitely a no-no, and here’s why:
- Dehydration and Irritation. The few times a year I fall asleep without washing my face (rare, but it happens!), I always notice how tight and dry my skin feels when I wake up. When you don’t cleanse and moisturize your skin properly before going to bed, your skin can’t hold on to water very well. Plus, moisturizers evaporate after they have been on the skin for many hours. This results in dehydration and tight-feeling skin and can lead to irritation over time.
- Clogged Pores. Between sunscreen, makeup, and your skin’s natural oils, your pores can easily become congested if you don’t wash your face.
- Free Radical Damage. Over the course of the day, our skin accumulates pollutants. If left on the skin, these may cause free-radical damage which is a major source of skin aging.
With that in mind, my tip is this: if you’re staying out late at night and know there’s a chance you won’t feel like doing your skincare routine once you’re home, wash your face before you head out for the evening. Even if you put makeup back on and end up sleeping in it, you’ve now removed all the oil and pollution that accumulated on your skin during the day. It’s not perfect, but your skin will be much better off the next day.
Doing this every once in a while isn’t going to hurt your skin in the long run, but of course, I obviously don’t suggest making a habit of it! The real downside to skipping your evening routine is that you aren’t giving your skin any serums or other products that help with recovery and regeneration. Nighttime is when our skin repairs the damage incurred during the day and also when it’s more receptive to active ingredients. Basically, not doing your skincare at night is a wasted opportunity.
Learn how to put together the perfect nighttime skincare routine.
What to Do if Sleeping in Makeup is a Habit for You
Like I said, sleeping in your makeup here and there really isn’t all that detrimental, but you don’t want to make a habit of skipping your nighttime routine. If not washing your face at night is something you struggle with on a regular basis, try performing your skincare routine as soon as you get home for the day. I don’t know about you, but my motivation definitely starts to wane as I settle in for the night, and sometimes washing my face is the last thing I want to do right before bed.
Even if finding the motivation to wash your face isn’t something you struggle with, there may be a benefit to performing your nighttime routine earlier in the evening. We used to think that the skin’s natural repair processes took over once we were asleep, but research has shown they actually start to kick in as soon as it gets dark. By washing your face and getting serums with active ingredients on your skin earlier in the evening, you’ll be getting a little more out of them than you would if you waited. Learn more about how circadian rhythms affect your skin.
If You Slept in Your Makeup, Here’s How to Reset Your Skin
Even if you washed your face before re-applying makeup, your skin isn’t going to be looking or feeling its best after you sleep in your makeup. Here’s how to get it back in shape.
- Remove all your makeup and wash your face, taking the time to perform a little lymphatic massage. This can help de-puff and bring a glow back to the skin.
- Use a hydrating face mask that fights impurities. This will help correct dehydration and clean out pores to prevent congestion.
- Use hydrating ingredients to replenish moisture levels and further correct dehydration. (I prefer using these ingredients in a serum since serums are made to go deep within the skin.)
Want more tips? Here’s how to repair your skin when you’re hungover (shhhh, we won’t tell).
So there you have it, my thoughts on sleeping in makeup! I wanted to share my point of view because I feel like everyone incorrectly puts the emphasis on makeup when it should be put on going 24 hours without washing your face. I hope you found this perspective interesting and that some of these tips gave you inspiration. Finally, remember that skincare should be something that brings you joy, not stress. If you fall asleep in your makeup here and there, go easy on yourself. The reality is, not wearing sunscreen during daylight hours is way more problematic for your skin so be sure to have it on your skin from sun up to sundown, 365 days a year and make sure you’re not making these sunscreen mistakes.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”