11 Nighttime Skin Care Mistakes to Avoid

11 Nighttime Skin Care Mistakes to Avoid featured image
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Clogged pores, dirty pillowcases and ingredients causing havoc. Nighttime should be the time to reboot and rejuvenate, but experts say if you’re making these common skin care snafus, you may want to revise how you’re resting.

Wearing SPF to Bed

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.”

Not Removing Your Makeup

Another pore-clogging move you might be making in your skin care, says Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. 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.”

Not Taking Special Care With Removing Your Eye Makeup

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) strongly supports the above recommendation and notes that eye makeup needs some special considerations on 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.”

Skipping a Moisturizer

Sounds so simple, but Dallas dermatologist Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD says she sees it all the time. “This is a simple step, but so many people skip it! Proper hydration and optimizing your skin barrier is essential, especially at night. Your skin has time overnight to soak in the humectant that you use helping to avoid premature development of fine lines and wrinkles.”

Sleeping on Your Stomach

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.”

Not Being Picky With Your Pillowcase

There are some stomach-churning stats about what lives in a dirty pillowcase, and it’s not propaganda. “Use a fresh pillowcase—and, even better, use one that is silk or satin,” recommends Dr. Houshmand, who adds that sleeping on your back, not your face, helps in the long run with wrinkle prevention. “Using a clean pillowcase can impact the appearance of your skin. Changing your pillowcase regularly is key because your pillowcase accumulates oil, sweat, and  skincare products, and can breed bacteria. When your face comes into contact with these impurities night after night, it can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, and even skin irritation. By making the switch to a fresh, clean pillowcase, you reduce the risk of transferring these  to your skin.”

Not Being Smart About Acne Care

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.

Going Overboard With Actives

Like most things, less is more when it comes to applying actives at night. “Use one active and a humectant to layer,” says Dr. Houshmand. “And alternate which actives you use weekly. For example, use peptides one week, AHAs/BHAs the following.”

Not Omitting Some Oils

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.”

Using Hair Oils for Too Long

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.”

Not Having Spatula Support

A big item on Dr. Houshmand’s nighttime don’t list: Dipping fingers into jars and creams as you wind down with your routine. “Use a small skin care spatula,” she stresses.

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