We all do it once in a while (and I have certainly done it more often since I had kids…). It happens! Yes, I know it’s bad to leave make-up on your skin overnight, and no, I don’t like how my skin looks the next day, but the world won’t end if it happens once in a while, right? But…I do wonder: What actually does happen when I don’t wash my face before I go to bed at night?
1. Fertile Ground for Clogged Pores & Pimples
While pretty much all make-up or sunscreens these days are non-comedogenic and won’t break you out per se, it is still “stuff” that, when it remains on the skin for an extended time, will mix with our skin’s own sebum, as well as dirt and bacteria (how often do you touch your face throughout the day?) to increase the risk of clogged pores and bacterial proliferation, resulting in new pimples or existing ones getting worse. Even if you don’t wear make-up, the mix of dirt, sebum and added bacteria can lead to pore congestion over time.
2. Skin Irritation and Inflammation
Throughout the day, we are exposed to micro-particles, pollutants and allergens that can more or less stick to the skin unless we wash it off. And depending on your immune system and how well your skin’s own protective barrier functions, those allergens, micro-particles and pollutants can irritate and sensitize skin.
3. Less Efficient Natural Exfoliation
Your skin sheds naturally all the time, although you wouldn’t see it with your eyes. But having a sticky mix on your skin at the end of the day and through the night impedes the natural exfoliation process, making your skin look dull and possibly clogging pores. Washing your face with a regular cleanser at night helps your skin’s shedding process, even if it does not contain any actual exfoliating agents.
4. Skin Dehydration
Even with proper moisturizing, we lose water through the skin throughout the day and night in what is called transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Not washing your face on a particular night probably also means that you are not applying any treatment products either, that would replenish hydration. I’ve always wondered why my skin felt grimy, yet parched the morning after not washing (and treating) my face. Well…after 24 hours of TEWL without replenishment, skin will lose its suppleness…
5. Missed Opportunity
Your skin acts differently at night than it does during the day. If not washing your face at night also means not applying any treatment before bed, that means you are missing out on nourishing your skin in a major way during a time when its in peak recovery mode. If you have issues with break-outs, you are also missing out on helping your skin battle pimples and other issues without the typical day-time interferences like pollution, sunscreen and make-up. So even if not-washing your face once in a while isn’t a big deal, not treating your skin is still a missed opportunity.
Lately, to motivate myself to wash my face at night, even if I am super tired, I try to visualize how it will help my skin breathe more freely, lifting the veil of sweat, dirt, and oils that have collected from the day’s travails. And knowing how much better my skin looks and feels the following morning if I go through my skincare ritual usually gets me moving toward the sink as well. What helps motivate you to wash your face even when you are tired or feeling lazy?