What Happens If You Sleep With Makeup On?

by Gio
what happens when you sleep with makeup on

Sleeping with your makeup on… I know you did it, too.

You’ve come home in the wee hours of the morning after a fun night on the town with friends, and the all you want to do is kick off your shoes, slip into your PJs, and go to sleep.

But… shouldn’t you take your makeup off, first? You’ve heard the old wives’ tales of what happens if you sleep with your makeup on. Pimples. Infections. Dull skin.

But your eyes are closing down on their own. You know you’ve lost the battle. And anyway, will sleeping with makeup on just this once be really that bad?

Maybe. Maybe not. Here’s what really happens when you sleep with makeup on:

Will You Get A Breakout If You Sleep With Makeup On?

It depends.

If you regularly sleep with your makeup on, you’ll get a breakout – or a pimple or two at least.

But if you commit this skincare sin only once in a while? Chances are nothing bad will happen.

Truth is, there’s not much difference between wearing your makeup on your face for 8 hours during the day and wearing it for 8 hours during the night – especially if you sleep on your back.

If your face rubs against the pillow, your makeup will rub against it too and the pillow will push it back into your pores, clogging them. In that case, a breakout is almost a done deal, especially if your skin is acne-prone.

Related: How To Pop A Pimple The Right Way


Will You Get An Eye Infection If You Sleep with Your makeup on?

Sleeping with your makeup on can cause eye infections, especially conjunctivitis.

Again, it’s rubbing your face against the pillow that does the damage. All that rubbing moves the makeup you have on around and some of it can end up near or into your eyes.

When that happens, you’ll wake up in the morning and find that your eyes have become red, itchy and burning! This has actually happened to me once and it was awful!

From that day on, no matter how tired I was, I always made sure I removed every little trace of makeup from my face before going to sleep.

Related: Do You Really Need To Double Cleanse At Night?

Will You Compromise Your Skincare Routine If You Sleep With Makeup On?

Yes. When you go to bed with your makeup still on, you usually skip your evening skincare routine entirely.

No retinol serum to keep wrinkles at bay. No anti-acne medication to kick those pimples in the butt. No rich moisturiser to plump your skin up when you sleep. No wonder when you wake up in the morning, your skin feels so dry and dull.

Again, skipping your evening skincare routine once in a while won’t set you back much. But do it regularly and you’ll soon start looking tired and older. Don’t say I haven’t warned you.

Related: Should Your Day And Night Skincare Routines Be Different?


The Bottom Line

Not removing your makeup at night is never a good idea, but if you’re really, really, really tired and will sleep on your back, then chances are that nothing bad will happen to your skin. Just don’t make a habit out of it!

Do you ever sleep with your makeup on? Share your experience in the comments below.



Jamilla December 13, 2011 - 1:20 pm

Sleeping with Makeup on – ewww!

beautifulwithbrains December 13, 2011 - 1:47 pm

Jamilla, I agree! I think you’re really tired, you risk it for once, but it really is better not to do it.

Aya December 13, 2011 - 4:41 pm

I’m guilty of this. I don’t do this regularly, though. I’m afraid to get breakouts. Haha. And I don’t want my pillow to get foundation all over. LOL

beautifulwithbrains December 13, 2011 - 5:10 pm

Aya, as long as you do it only once in a while and sleep on your back, it’s very unlikely you’ll get breakouts. But it’s still to remove everything anyway. 🙂

Vonnie (socialitedreams) December 13, 2011 - 5:42 pm

that’s why i try to keep wipes handy. there are some days i really can’t drag myself to the bathroom, but with wipes on my dresser, rub rub and hope for the best lol. i sleep on my face, so i need to get it off at least partially

beautifulwithbrains December 13, 2011 - 6:49 pm

Vonnie, if you sleep on your face it’s definitely best to remove it. I like to use wipes when I’m really tired too but I haven’t found any that completely remove everything. Still, it’s better than nothing. 🙂

La Bisbetica December 13, 2011 - 5:56 pm

I’ve never slept with makeup on. Sometimes my eyes get irritated if I don’t remove makeup properly, I can’t imagine what could happen if I don’t remove it at all…

beautifulwithbrains December 13, 2011 - 6:50 pm

La Bisbetica, I actually woke up with my eyes red, swollen and irritated once because I haven’t removed makeup before going to sleep and it was awful! Better be on the safe side and remove everything!

Trisha December 13, 2011 - 7:34 pm

Okay, confession time: I ALWAYS slept with my makeup on in high school. I didn’t end up with acne, thankfully.

Still, now I know better.

beautifulwithbrains December 13, 2011 - 8:31 pm

Trisha, how lucky that you didn’t get acne! I slept with makeup on often on weekends when I was in high school too and usually nothing happened until one day some of it got into my eye and it was just awful. Thanks goodness we both know better now indeed!

[email protected] December 14, 2011 - 1:18 am

Great post! Although I never sleep with makeup on, it’s always good to get a reminder!

beautifulwithbrains December 14, 2011 - 6:51 am

Harshleen, thanks. And it’s good that you’ve never done it!

Nikki December 14, 2011 - 1:52 am

I never tried sleeping with makeup on, even just for a short nap, I tend to at least wipe off some makeup using a makeup remover, I just can’t bear the fact that I’ll stain my pillows with makeup 🙂 Thanks for this 🙂

beautifulwithbrains December 14, 2011 - 6:54 am

Nikki, that’s a good habit! It’s always best to remove what’s on your face before lying down, not just for your skin but for your pillows too. 🙂

Makeup Morsels December 14, 2011 - 6:35 am

I’ve never slept with makeup on before, since I usually remove it right when I get home no matter what time it is. My eyes are really sensitive, so even though I sleep on my back, I’m worried that the makeup will somehow migrate during the night and I’ll wake up with super irritated peepers o.O

I didn’t know that sleeping on your face was what could cause breakouts though! Really interest post, as usual 🙂

beautifulwithbrains December 14, 2011 - 7:03 am

Makeup Morsels, that’s the best thing of all, removing makeup as soon as you get home so by the time you go to bed you have one less thing to do.

If you sleep on your back, it’s very unlikely the makeup will get in your eye. If makeup could travel like that, it’d do it during the day too. Although when you sleep, there is always the chance you turn through the night and wake up in a different position and that could cause some migration so if you have sensitive eyes it’s best not to risk it.

Janessa December 13, 2012 - 2:32 am

I try my best to not fall asleep with make up on. I usually have at least used a face wipe those very rare times I fall asleep without taking off all my makeup. I’ve done it less than ten times this year I am sure.
My nighttime skincare regimen is relaxing and fun so I do look forward to it. I love the fresh feeling of clean skin anyways.

beautifulwithbrains December 13, 2012 - 11:50 am

Janessa, sometimes you’re so tired that sleeping with makeup on don’t seem like such a bad idea after all, but it’s good that you at least remove some of it with a wipe. And it’s good that you enjoy your nighttime skincare routine too. I really hate taking makeup off, probably because I spend so much time applying it (I like to experiment with bright and crazy combos) that I feel sad to seem it disappear, but it must be done.


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