​7 Reasons You Should Always Wash Your Face Before Bed

Washing your face at night should involve makeup removal, some kind of cleansing, followed by moisturizer. (Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

Sometimes it feels a little torturous. You've stayed up too late, but now you are determined to get to bed, ASAP, before your tomorrow is ruined. The motivation for a good night's sleep is brimming.

But then the long list of things to do before you climb into your sweet-dreams sack: face-washing, tooth-brushing, pajama-changing, alarm-setting. Your energy to get into bed wanes. What can you skip? Often the face-washing is the first to go, since the others are less negotiable.

Here's why you shouldn't skip that part of your before-bed ritual:

It can lead directly to breakouts

It's simple: Facial skin that's not regularly cleansed is more likely to get clogged pores, which cause acne. "Your makeup may also harbor bacteria and debris you come into contact with during the day from your cell phone, gym equipment, and other people," Dr. Heidi Waldorf, an NYC-based cosmetic dermatologist told Teen Vogue.

Skin needs time to repair itself overnight

The term "beauty sleep" has stuck with us since it was first introduced in 1828 for a reason: We need a good night's rest to look our best. "That's when cell mitosis — cell division that renews and repairs skin — is at its peak, whether you're asleep or not," New York-based dermatologist Dennis Gross, M.D. told Reader's Digest. "This is when cells need nutrients the most, and when their anti-aging benefits have maximum impact."

In this dirty world, skin needs a pollution break

"During the day, natural oils and sweat accumulate on the skin. We are exposed to the environment, which means that dirt and pollution build up on our outer skin layer," Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told Self magazine. Think about all the stuff in the air — from vehicle exhaust to smoke from cigarette smokers to cooking grease. When this isn't washed off your skin at night, it is more likely to cause irritations, allergies and other skin issues.

You can avoid dry skin issues

At night your body produces fewer natural oils to lubricate skin and your skin heats up. That's why night moisturizers are often thicker and heavier. If you are skipping washing and moisturizing your face at night, your skin will feel drier all the time, which can be uncomfortable and cause redness and irritation.

You could seriously hurt your eyes (if you wear mascara)

If you regularly wake up in the morning with raccoon eyes, you're not completely washing off your mascara at night. And over time that can lead to very real problems. What kind? Really disturbing ones, as exemplified by a Sydney, Australia woman who went to her ophthalmologist complaining of scratchy eyes. The scratchiness wasn't just a feeling — her corneas were being scraped each time she blinked due to lingering mascara which had made its way under her eyelids as she slept. It embedded itself there and over time built up enough to injure her eyes. The "solidified concretions" as Science Alert detailed (click through if you want to see a kind-of disturbing close-up of the woman's eye) took doctors 90 minutes to remove and she has permanent scars on her corneas and eyelids.

Whatever skin care products you use will be more effective

If you don't wash your face at night, the money you are spending on skin care treatments (especially serums and other products especially meant for use overnight) is wasted. As detailed above, skin repairs itself while you sleep, and treatments meant to be used then are designed to work in tandem with natural healing processes. If you aren't even washing your face, you're losing out on both the skin-healing effects of sleep and the products meant to work with your skin's natural sleep/awake cycles. "If you use topical acne or anti-aging creams, serums or gels, washing your face before applying them will enhance their penetration and efficacy," Waldorf says.

It will keep your linens cleaner

If you wear makeup, it will rub off on your pillowcase, making a mess. But even if you don't, you're carrying whatever pollution and allergens into your bed with you when you don't wash off first. On top of that, every night after the one where you don't wash you will be exposing your face to whatever you brought in earlier, compounding the dirt or pollen issue.

View Article Sources
  1. "What Can Treat Large Facial Pores?." American Academy of Dermatology Association.

  2. Araviiskaia, E., et al. “The Impact of Airborne Pollution on Skin.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV, vol. 33, no. 8, Aug. 2019, pp. 1496–505., doi:10.1111/jdv.15583.

  3. Robaei, Dana. “Subconjunctival Mascara Deposition.” Ophthalmology, vol. 125, no. 5, 2018, p. 641., doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.12.035