How Long Can We Wear Makeup For Before It Wreaks Havoc With Our Skin? We Asked An Expert


No matter who you ask, the general consensus within the beauty industry is that it is a sin to sleep with your makeup on. It doesn’t matter if you’re too tired or too comfortable in your bed, you must make your way to the bathroom and double cleanse. But lately, the idea of long-wear foundations of up to 24 hours and ‘I woke up like this’ selfies (hint, hint, Jlo, hint) have got me thinking about the actual wear time of makeup.

How is it that we can’t sleep with our makeup on but it’s acceptable to be in a full glam if we’re up way past midnight? Why do cosmetic companies insist on creating products that last longer than they’re intended to be worn? To answer these questions and more, ELLE spoke with Dr Pallavi Sule, Dermatologist & Aesthetic Physician-

Why Remove Makeup?

Apart from the fact that sleeping with mascara on is sure to give you racoon eyes in the morning, there are some real dangers of sleeping without cleansing your face first. “Not removing the layers of cosmetics harms the skin by blocking the pores. The skin will not be able to breathe hence causing breakouts, acne and pigmentation,” says Dr Pallavi.


But wearing makeup for long hours also can clog the pores and prevent the skin from breathing. So, does any biological process take place during sleep that is inhibited due to the presence of these products on the skin? Dr Pallavi explains that the skin sheds dead cells and repairs itself during sleep.

“While there may not be specific biological processes that it directly inhibits during sleep, it can interfere with the skin’s natural rejuvenation process, potentially leading to long-term skin issues. And glammed up while awake during late hours is different because you’re not impeding the same skin recovery processes that occur during sleep.”

However, Dr Pallavi also explains how it’s still extremely important to properly cleanse your face before bedtime to allow your skin to breathe and rejuvenate during the night.

So, How Long Can We Wear Makeup For?


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Unfortunately, there isn’t one specific answer to this question. Dr Pallavi says that what works for one person may not work for the other because individuals vary in the form of their skin type, the climate they live in, their activity level and their application techniques. However, wearing makeup excessively long periods can be detrimental to anybody’s skin health because everyone’s skin needs to breathe and rejuvenate.

Cosmetic companies often have labels excitedly showcasing the long wear time. Dr Pallavi says they are merely marketing strategies used to attract customers. “Cosmetic companies often conduct tests in a controlled environment–ideal conditions, skin preparation, controlled temperature and minimal physical activity. These claims may not reflect real-world usage for most individuals.”


So the next time you’re browsing through beauty isles, try ignoring wear times and start focusing on other details like which skin type the product is suitable for and which skin-friendly ingredients is it infused with. Advising all of us makeup enthusiasts, Dr Pallavi also says, “One must not fall prey to such marketing strategies. Choose beauty products thoughtfully according to skin type and lifestyle.”

How To Remove Makeup

Removing makeup is an integral part of one’s skincare regime that must be followed at night before going to bed. We sing praises about the double cleansing process but do we know if we’re doing it right? Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow according to a dermatologist:


-Be very gentle while cleansing sensitive areas like the lips and the eyes. Micellar water is the best for these areas as when applied using a cotton pad, it helps to dissolve makeup. This step must be followed by a good cleanser.

-To get rid of stubborn products like deeply pigmented lipstick or full coverage foundation, cleansing oils or balms followed by the right facial cleanser according to your skin type are the best. After doing so, apply a good moisturiser to lock in the moisture and a hydrating lip balm to keep the lips soft and supple.

-The most important thing when you choose your makeup remover is that it should not contain alcohol, fragrances, or preservatives. Also, one must check the label for sulphate-free and paraben-free products.

-Make sure that you’re not pulling or tugging at your skin as it may cause irritation and sagging of the skin.

Now that we know that the answer to “How long can we realistically wear makeup for?” is not a number, I think we can all cater to the needs of our skin and not fall prey to marketing gimmicks. So, if you’re just sitting around with your makeup on, no matter what time of the day it may be, go double-cleanse!

Beauty Writer

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