Nighttime Skin Care Mistakes to Avoid

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When it comes to her best skin care advice for patients, New York dermatologist Jody A. Levine, MD prefers a rather simple protocol: “I always recommend patients wear a daily moisturizer with sunblock in the morning,” she says, but notes this is one piece of healthy-complexion advice that isn’t for all hours of the day.

“One skin care mistake I see people make is using their moisturizer with SPF when they go to sleep as a nighttime moisturizer. There is no need to use SPF at night, as it can unnecessarily dry out the skin or clog the pores.”

Saddle Brook, NJ dermatologist Dr. Fredric Haberman is in agreement: “Sunscreens and sunblocks may potentially be clogging your pores since they contain heavier ingredients used for day time. Certain sun-protection ingredients may clog pores for skin types prone to congestion and breakouts—especially if you sleep on your stomach and your face is constantly in contact with your pillow at night. Also, SPF is a larger molecule and you don’t want it pressing into your skin while you sleep at night, creating larger pores.”

“Thats a really bad idea,” says West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD, succinctly summing it up: “You will not get that much sunlight during the night and your skin needs some time without sunscreen.”

Wash Off

Another pore-clogging move you might be making in your skin care, says Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Chung Honet, MD, is not properly removing makeup before bed—but for many more reasons than simply flushing foundation down the drain. “Washing off the skin oils and makeup chemicals trapped under a day’s worth of sweat, dirt and environmental toxins is essential to allowing the skin to rest and rejuvenate, not to mention providing a clean slate to receive any bedtime skin care actives we may apply.”

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) strongly supports this one and notes that eye makeup also hits the list. Their advice: “Use an oil-free makeup remover, and then wash your face using a gentle cleanser. Avoid scrubbing your face, even when removing makeup. If you apply an acne medication at night, apply it after cleansing, and then apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer on top of the medication.”

Sleep Tight

Although this one is less on the skin care error front and more on the actual sleeping situation, Dr. Honet also says that sleep habits, like sleeping on your stomach or tying your hair up in a ponytail too tightly, both increase the likelihood of creating facial sleep creases and hair thinning, respectively. “Nighttime is the prime time of the day to allow the skin and the body to rest and revitalize. During sleep, the body restores, reorganizes, repairs, gets rid of toxic wastes, stores new information, and regenerates hormone and energy stores. For the skin, being one of the many organ systems of the body, sleep becomes a very important time of the day for rejuvenating and revitalizing while we rest.”

And, while Glenn Dale, MD dermatologist Valerie Callender, MD isn’t against the long-revered acne-fighting ingredient of benzoyl peroxide, she does say to be careful when applying anything that contain it before hitting the hay, as it is rather notorious for staining sheets and pillowcases.

“If you must use these acne products, then stick to white towels, pillowcases and sheets,” she advises.

Oil Omission

Another product that isn’t a pass, but does involve a little nit-picking before your head hits the pillow, according to Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD: The fan-favorite of facial oils.

“As our skin gets drier during winter, we want to replenish hydration and luminosity by heartier moisturizer, yet some can be superheavy for our facial skin,” she says. “DIY oils and nightly hydration facial masks are so popular on social media now, but my advice is to be careful. Most of these contain cooking oils, such as olive oils, sesame oils, sunflower oil or shea butter, which can be very comedogenic and can cause acne breakouts and blemishes. Choose wisely.”

Phoenix, AZ dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal also stresses to seriously reconsider applying oils before bed, but his skip-before-snoozing advice involves the hair.

“I would never wear oil on my head to bed,” he says. “Believe it or not, oils are commonly used in certain cultures—including my own. A lot of people use oils to lubricate their hair and improve hair quality. Oils are great for short-term use, but long application time can lead to yeast acne known as pityrosporum folliculitis. While this doesn’t happen with all oils, it does happen with olive oil and coconut oil.”

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