The Nasty Things That Happen When You Don't Wash Your Face

I recently stayed at a friend's place during a vacation, and she was amused by how long my evening skin-care regimen took. Not only do I wash my face with a cleanser, but I remove my makeup with a wipe, then follow up with a chorus line of lotions and potions to keep my skin looking A+. When I woke up the next morning and realized she was still wearing her makeup from the night before, I understood why she had been laughing. She, like a ton of other women, doesn't always wash her face before bed. And the insane thing is that she knows it's bad for her skin. She just shrugs her shoulders and moves on.

It's no wonder that so many women are skipping their evening cleansing. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian have been open about their nocturnal makeup-wearing habits. But we're here to reiterate that even if you have a crystal-clear complexion, failing to properly cleanse before you snooze is not just bad for your skin — it's horrible. "[Sleeping with makeup on] clogs your pores, and that buildup ultimately prevents other beauty products from penetrating the skin," says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. So even if you're layering a fancy night cream over your old makeup to assuage your non-cleansing guilt, you're not even getting the benefits of said cream. Dr. Gohara says: "It also precludes the skin's natural exfoliation process. We shed 50 million skin cells a day. If there's makeup on, they won't be liberated as freely, resulting in a gray, lackluster appearance."
Makeup also traps pollutants on your skin, compromising the integrity of the skin barrier, which "leads to a higher likelihood of infection, irritation, and overall dullness," Dr. Gohara says. It's basically like putting on a mask that guarantees a grayish skin tone, inflammation, and decreased skin function. Is that truly worth the extra three minutes of sleep you get?

But if your inner lazy girl is still willing to swap skin health for snoozing, we're pulling out all the stops. We've broken down exactly what happens when you don't properly remove all your makeup. From nasty styes to scaly skin, see what ailments could be in your future. And, please, for the love of collagen — wash your damn face!
Advertisement
1 of 5
Eye Makeup
Leaving anything on your eyes is asking for a stye — especially if we're talking shimmery, sparkling shadows. But mascara is also a risk. "The wet, moist environment inside of the tube is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria," Dr. Gohara says. "The longer any eye makeup stays in contact with the eyes, the higher your risk of infection." She suggests La Roche-Posay's Micellar Water to take off eye makeup in a snap.

La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution, $16.79, available at Drugstore.com.
2 of 5
Lipstick
I know what you're thinking: How bad can leaving on your lipstick be? (And what formula is the girl using who has it on at the end of the night?) But according to Dr. Gohara, it's a fast track to wrinkly-looking lips. "Old lipstick can dry out the lips, accentuating fine lines and cracks," she explains. Plus, it makes the next day's application go on cakey and craggy. Try a gel cleanser — like this one from Honest Beauty — to remove even the darkest lip pigments.

Honest Beauty Refreshingly Clean Gel Cleanser, $18, available at Ulta Beauty.
3 of 5
Base Makeup
The worst thing you could do, according to Dr. Gohara, is not remove your foundation. (Informal word-of-mouth studies also confirm it's the thing you're most likely to do.) In the short term, you're clogging your pores. But in the long term, the powdery, greasy buildup can trigger skin conditions like rosacea or eczema. And because old foundation also keeps other good products, like retinols and acne creams from penetrating, you're actually hurting your skin two-fold. So...don't do it, okay?

The easiest way to remove base makeup is with wipes. One or two should do the trick. Just make sure to follow up with a regular cleanser — wipes leave behind residue.

Clean & Clear Makeup Dissolving Facial Cleansing Wipes, $4.99, available at Target.
4 of 5
Fake Eyelashes
If you wear false lashes on a regular basis, you may be tempted to leave them on while you snooze. But Dr. Gohara warns that over time, the tugging can weaken your natural lashline, causing you to lose your real lashes more readily. "The glue can also act as an irritant, causing an itchy, red rash," she adds. An oil-free eye-makeup remover will dissolve the glue in a snap, making it easier to remove the lashes.

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover, $30, available at Lancôme.
5 of 5
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!
Advertisement