What Happens to Your Face When You Sleep in Makeup

May 22nd 2016

Waking up bleary-eyed, you hit the alarm and shuffle to the bathroom only to be greeted by a mascara-smeared under eye. You fell asleep with your makeup on. Again.

Whether you've passed out in bed after a late night cocktail hour, fell asleep on accident while studying, or felt it was just too darn hot/cold/far to get yourself out of bed to take off your makeup, you are not alone. A survey of 1,500 women, conducted by mattress company Ergoflex UK, found one in four women regularly sleep with their makeup on. And, according to the Daily Mail, one in three women slept with their makeup on at least twice a week.

Sleeping with your makeup on may seem like no big deal, and even convenient, but it can wreak havoc — both apparent and invisible — on your face.

Here are five ways that makeup makes skin less clear and less healthy.

1. Collagen production is put to a stop.

Makeup brings more free radicals in the mix. Free radicals are chemical particles that result from a multitude of daily life sources such as UV rays, pollution, stress, cigarette smoke, and poor diet, Lauren Bound, a licensed medical aesthetician at AOB Med Spa in Denver told ATTN:. In an attempt to find their missing parts, the free radicals attack other cells in order to balance themselves out and makeup holds on to these free radicals.

Having too many free radicals can put collagen production on hold. Why is collagen important? This protein gives skin structure, and it's what makes it firm and elastic — basically younger-looking. Collagen is produced most during deep sleep during the third and fourth stages of the sleep cycle when your body is in full hormone and cell production mode.

“When free radicals sit on our skin at night, this can cause problems with cellular turnover since they break down collagen production in our skin,” Bound told ATTN:. “It’s important we give our skin a good wash to get rid of them and then a chance to breathe for the night.”

2. You'll likely see more acne.

Bound reassured us that sleeping with your makeup on for a night or two won’t kill you, but over time it definitely contributes to dryness, clogged pores, and breakouts.

The face is covered in pores, which allow the body to do things like sweat and also produce sebum, a natural lubricant that protects and moisturizes the skin and also helps it get rid of dead skin and other irritants. Multiple layers of makeup especially foundation and petroleum-based products can block and throw off the balance of sebum. Sebum then cannot help the skin cells turnover, and the clogged pores hold onto bacteria resulting in inflamed, irritated pores. Hello red splotches, blackheads, and acne.

3. Eye makeup = eye troubles.

While it may seem harmless to sleep with mascara and eyeliner on so you don't have to redo it in the morning, your eyes will thank you for removing it all before bed. Residual eye cosmetics can cause eye irritation and infection. Sleeping in mascara can also cause lashes to become more brittle, break, and fall out more easily, Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a board certified dermatologist, told Bustle.

4. Dyes and perfumes can cause irritation.

Many makeup products are packed with dyes and perfumes like phthalates, carbon black, and synthetic musks. Sure, they make the products smell good and have attractive shades, but the tradeoff is potential skin damage. Makeup additives can cause clogged pores, which lead to breakouts — especially if your skin is already sensitive or you have hormonal acne or rosacea.

“Making sure your makeup is hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic is very important,” Bound said. “If you know you aren’t the best at washing your face at night, at least make sure what you had on during the day isn’t going to be doing any further harm. Mineral makeup is generally free of toxic, pore clogging ingredients.”

If you’re going to toss out your current makeup bag in lieu of mineral products, do your homework. Self magazine recommends ensuring the products you’re investing in are actually 100 percent mineral. Just like reading a food label, usually the less ingredients the better.

5. You're setting yourself up for faster aging.

Skincare plays a big role in aging. “Skin cells turn over anywhere from every 10 to 30 days, depending on the structure of the cell, environmental factors, internal factors and topical products," Bound explained. "When ‘junk’ is left on the skin and the skin cells turn over with junk on the skin, this is what causes premature aging."

She added that sleeping with your makeup on every once and awhile may not be detrimental to your anti-aging regimen, but it certainly adds up over time.

“If we avoid washing our face at night, stress and pollution-induced oxidative damage will break down the integrity of the skin, resulting in premature damage,” Bound told ATTN:. “It is nearly impossible to see where our cells are in the turnover process, so it is better to play it safe and care for your skin regularly.”

How to give skin some extra TLC.

If you are able to, Bounds suggests letting your skin take a day off from wearing all those creams, powders, shadows, and contouring lines. Go fresh faced and cosmetic clean for the rest of the day (and night!).

Keep makeup remover towelettes on your nightstand, if you’re a serial offender of forgetting to remove your makeup at the end of the day — consider it the lazy person’s substitute for face washing. But, it's still best not to make this practice a daily one, as "nothing substitutes a real face wash," says Bound.

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