Ask Curology: Is sleeping with makeup on really that bad?

How important is makeup remover in your PM routine?

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Sep 14, 2020 · 3 min read

Woman laying on pillow
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Welcome to Ask Curology, penned by one of our in-house medical providers in response to your questions about all things skincare. This week, removing makeup before bed: do we need to do it? And if so, why? Here are the facts about sleeping with makeup.

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Dear Curology,

I’m hoping you can help settle a debate between me and my friend. I’m a nighttime skin routine ritualist — I never skip a PM cleanse. One thing I always do is take off all of my makeup. To me, this step is crucial in preventing breakouts. Enter my friend: not only does she never remove her makeup, but she’ll actually wear makeup to bed if her new SO is staying over. I tried to tell her that no person is worth the breakout you’ll get from sleeping with makeup on, but she told me she never gets breakouts. She pretty much has perfect skin, so I was shocked. Tell me the truth. Is it bad to sleep with makeup on, or have I been living a lie?


Sleeping Beauty

Dear Sleeping Beauty,

Nothing gets me more excited than a little friendly skincare debate! But this issue isn’t quite so cut-and-dry. In fact, you and your friend are both right in some ways.

Does makeup cause breakouts?

It’s a bit of a misconception to say that makeup causes breakouts. It’s actually certain ingredients in some makeup products that tend to clog pores, which can result in breakouts. Our previous post about non-comedogenic makeup says more on this topic. Checking all your skincare products on is an easy way to make sure you’re using products without potentially pore-clogging or irritating ingredients. You can read more about and how to use here. So, as long as your makeup is not potentially pore-clogging, wearing it for a longer period of time should not be a problem (in theory!).

How (and why) to remove makeup before bed

Even if you’re using non-comedogenic makeup, it’s still typically a good idea to remove it before bed. First off, if you are applying a nighttime acne treatment, such as your Curology medication, you’ll want to apply it to a clean dry face. This will give it the best chance to do its work overnight! In general, it’s a good idea to cleanse your face before bed to get rid of environmental pollutants and other factors that might contribute to breakouts.

Micellar water is my favorite makeup remover, because it cleanses, removes makeup, and lightly moisturizes all at once. If you want product recommendations that generally work well with acne-prone skin, check out our previous post on how to remove makeup.

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I hope that helps! Feel free to sound off in the comments if you have more questions, or get in touch with your Curology medical provider. If you’re not a member yet, you can sign up for a free month of Curology (just pay $4.95 + tax to cover shipping and handling). Members get paired with an in-house medical provider (like me!) for a custom skincare experience.

All my best,Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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