This is What Really Happens to Your Skin When You Sleep in Your Makeup

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You’ve probably heard it a million times: Don’t sleep in your makeup. But at the end of a long day (or a night out), it can feel like the biggest task in the world to properly remove all of your makeup before bed. How bad could it really be to just wash your face in the morning instead?

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Turns out, it’s pretty bad.

Getting your “beauty sleep” isn’t just an expression. Dr. Craig Austin, a New York-based dermatologist and founder of the skincare line Cane + Austin, explains, “Your skin does all its repairing and renewing at night, so if you’re not taking off your makeup before you go to sleep, you aren’t giving your skin a chance to rest and breathe, or do its natural exfoliation.”

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On top of the makeup you haven’t removed, your skin has also picked up a lot of dirt throughout the day, which can contribute to acne.

“If makeup and a day’s worth of dirt and debris are not getting washed off, all of that sits on the surface of your skin and sinks into your pores, causing bacteria that lead to acne,” says Dr. Austin.

Jennifer T. Haley, a board-certified dermatologist from Arizona, agrees that not taking off your makeup at night can cause problems for your skin.

“Since the skin is the largest organ in the body, and we come into contact with many toxins in our everyday lives, our body purges these toxins through our pores primarily at night,” she says. “When makeup is not removed, the pores are occluded and toxins build up… This results in skin discoloration, blackheads, and whiteheads.”

Beyond acne, Dr. Austin says not removing your makeup at night can also lead to nasty eye infections. Yikes!

Thankfully, it’s not hard to avoid the horrors of sleeping in your makeup. To save both your skin and your pillowcases from these unfortunate side effects, be sure to leave enough time every night to fully remove your makeup — no matter how tired you feel!

Give your skin the chance to renew itself overnight. Just like you wouldn’t go to sleep without brushing your teeth, make it a habit to never go to sleep without taking your makeup off fully first.

Jackie Kolgraf
Jackie Kolgraf

Jackie lives in the suburbs of Boston with her dachshund and corgi. She loves flowers, snow, One Direction, and bad TV. When she's not writing about pop culture, she's probably reading about it.