1. You’ll break out.
“If you don’t cleanse your face, dirt and dead skin cells are not removed,” explains celebrity dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu. “They stay on the skin, clogging pores and leading to chronic inflammation in the form of pimples.”
2. Your complexion will appear dull.
If you’ve ever woken up in the morning, looked in the mirror, and wished your skin looked brighter, your lack of cleansing before you hit the bed could be the problem. “Oils and dead skin cells on the outermost layers of the skin are matted up against the pillow all night, and natural turnover of this dull epidermal layer is diminished,” says Dr. Chiu. “Regular cleansing and exfoliation are integral to revealing healthy new skin cells and allowing the natural repair processes of the skin to occur.” Bonus: After establishing a good skin routine, your complexion will look so glowing, you won’t need nearly as much makeup to brighten it up.
3. Your skin will look older — and you’ll have more wrinkles.
“Dirt and makeup trapped against your skin cause environmentally-induced oxidative damage,” says Dr. Chiu. “This leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier and prematurely ages your face.”
Need proof? In 2013, the Daily Mail conducted an experiment in which one woman stopped washing her face for an entire month and simply reapplied her makeup over her unwashed skin each morning. The results: experts said she literally aged herself by 10 years — all because she skipped cleansing for 30 days.
4. If you have acne, you might make it worse.
While cleansing is an important step in anyone’s beauty regimen, it’s especially key for those who have temperamental skin. “For those with oily skin, like acne patients, sleeping in makeup could worsen their skin conditions,” explains Dr . Chiu.
5. You could put yourself at risk for an infection.
While the act of sleeping in your makeup may not cause an infection, Dr. Chiu warns that if you already have an active skin abrasion, such as an inflamed acne pimple, it’s possible that an infection can occur because your skin barrier is compromised. “Don’t forget our skin is our first line of defense against infections,” she adds.
6. You may develop a rash.
“Makeup often contains irritants like dyes and perfumes that, when left on the skin for long periods of time, can cause inflammation,” explains Dr. Chiu, adding that those with rosacea or sensitive skin can be especially susceptible.
The Bottom Line
Even if you’re super tired, wash your face before heading to bed — your skin will definitely thank you later. Dr. Chiu recommends you do it according to your skin type, although you should probably ask your dermatologist to help you figure out what’s right for you if you’re not sure.
“Cleanse twice daily. At night, if you wear heavy makeup, start with a quick makeup wipe. If you have normal to dry skin, find a gentle cleanser to lift off impurities, makeup, and dirt. For oilier skin, look for exfoliating cleansers with alpha-hydroxy acids, and for acne-prone skin, consider a topical treatment that contains active ingredient dapsone.”