How Bad is Sleeping with Makeup?

I recently came across an interesting ‘Did you know’ meme on Pinterest stating that going to bed with your makeup on will age your skin seven times faster. It caught on and made the rounds through social media, but I was curious about the real facts. To find out what the real effects of going to sleep with makeup on, I reached out to skincare and makeup industry professionals. Here’s what they had to say:

“While I have no idea how anyone has come up with the magical ‘seven times’ faster aging of the skin if you go to bed with your makeup on, there is a grain of truth in this. Most makeup contains artificial colors and other ingredients that may clog the pores, cause damaging chemical reactions in the skin, and even interfere with hormones. This can result in congested skin and allergies, and of course contribute to skin aging, so it really is best to thoroughly remove your makeup before bed. And if you really can’t get into this habit, for goodness’ sake, at least choose a makeup brand like Synergie, the clean science ‘intelligent makeup’ from Australia, which you can rely on to exclude harmful ingredients. That way, the only damage will be to your pillowcases, not your skin.”—Tracey Lambert, M.D., CEO, Skin Elegance International

“Your skin acts as a primary defender and protective barrier to the harsh environment you live in. If you don’t help it ‘reset’ on a daily basis to purge any damage and inflammation, your defenses weaken and unwanted changes to your gene patterns occur to compensate. Leaving makeup on overnight without cleaning your skin leads to greater build-up of damaging agents, which accumulate and accelerate the aging process.”—Neal Kitchen, Ph.D., vice president of strategy and development, HydroPeptide

“Washing your face before going to sleep is essential in the fight against aging skin. Our makeup can allow free radicals that we are exposed to during everyday life to cling to our skin. If we do not wash our faces before we go to bed at night, our skin is exposed to free radical damage that can prematurely age the skin as we sleep.”Hannah Hatcher, global educator, Jane Iredale

“Never go to bed with makeup on. During the sleeping hours is when much of the body’s cellular repair and rejuvenation happens. As such, this is an optimal time to cleanse to remove the toxins from the day and add nourishing, repairing, and hydrating ingredients to the skin. Cleansing and applying peptides, vitamin A, and penetrating moisturizers will make a tremendous difference in the aging process on the skin. Let bedtime be your rejuvenation time with a three-step easy regimen.”Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO, Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals

“Whether this old wives tale is true or false, the reality is that sleeping with makeup does cause skin aging, comedones, pimples, irritation, and dull-looking skin. The makeup can actually hold free radicals, which means at night when makeup is not removed, the free radicals are remaining on the skin doing damage. Free radicals actually break down collagen, which in turn causes fine lines and wrinkles to appear on the skin. When mascara and eye makeup are not removed, they also hold bacteria and the mascara can clog the hair follicles and oil glands on the eyelids. The eyes can then become irritated, inflamed, and bacteria builds up.”Karen Asquith, national director of education, G.M. Collin