The Scary Things That Happen When You Sleep in Makeup

Even though we know it's a skin “no,” we’ve all gone to bed without removing our makeup from time to time. A survey from the UK found that a third of women go to sleep at least twice a week without giving their face a good cleanse. And when we asked our readers, 75 percent of them admitted they’ve done it too. 

But what would happen if we stopped taking our makeup off before bed all-together? Thanks to Daily Mail reporter Anna Pursglove, we now know and the details are gruesome!

Over a 30-day period, Pursglove abstained from washing her face and just reapplied makeup over top, which caused some very ugly things to happen. Her skin became extremely dry and sensitive, her eyelashes fell out in clumps, and not only were her pores clogged but they grew by 5 percent. Even worse, Pursglove’s eyes became swollen and she developed something she coined as “eyelash dandruff”.

“It’s bad to sleep with your makeup on because [it] can clog your pores and break you out,” says Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, ”In addition, if you sleep with a lot of makeup on it has been known to cause different types of eye infections.” Dr. Downie has had a few patients scratch their cornea after rubbing their eyes in the middle of the night with mascara on.

Related: The Right Way to Cleanse – 5 Easy Steps

Pursglove also noticed that the wrinkles on the sides of her face had gotten significantly worse. One explanation could be that some makeup, especially ones that are talc-based, can dry out skin. “Dryness accentuates the appearance of fine lines and pores, giving the skin an aged appearance,” says San Antonio dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD. It’s also important to note that some makeup products can contain toxic ingredients like lead and mercury - leaving those on your skin for long periods can be especially hazardous.  

At the end of her experiment, experts estimated that Pursglove had aged her skin by a decade. Luckily, she didn’t do any lasting damage in her month-long trial, but this serves as a scary reminder of why leaving that “little” bit of makeup on is a terrible idea.


Don’t feel like you have time to remove all your makeup? A makeup remover wipe is better than nothing. Of course using a cleanser and water is the best method but you can actually remove your makeup in less than a minute with this technique if you’re in a pinch. When looking for a makeup remover wipe, get one that is described as gentle, safe, hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested, dermatologist-tested and/or fragrance-free, says Dr. Bucay. 


2 Comments
  • candes
    Posted on

    I think it is worse to sleep with no makeup, serums and moisturizer on than an occasional night with the works on. I have fallen asleep before I did my bedtime routine, but after I washed, and my face looked like heck in the AM.

  • Jordan
    Posted on

    Wow, this is interesting!

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