It’s late and you are tired, all you can think about is crawling into bed and drifting off to sleep. You think to yourself, “I’m too tired to wash my face – is it really that big of a deal?” The answer is yes – it really is that big of a deal to start your night of slumber off with clean skin. Properly cleansing and removing makeup at night allows the skin to breathe, helps pores clear, and washes away the environmental pollutants and impurities that may contribute to oxidative damage.
Research has shown that certain physiological changes in the skin do occur overnight. Like many of our organs, our skin can tell night from day. Biological processes vary over 24 hours as a result of time-sensitive “clocks” within our cells. Some evidence exists linking circadian clocks to cell cycle (cells dividing to replenish dead ones) and DNA repair, the natural process by which a cell regularly detoxifies itself.
Overnight, the skin needs to repair itself, and sleeping with your makeup on inhibits the process. When makeup is left on, it blocks the natural exfoliation which can leave your skin looking dull.
Blood flow in the skin is higher while sleeping. When blood flow is increased, so is absorption and penetration of ingredients. So, if you aren’t washing your face before bed, you can’t apply active products that will help fight aging or acne or whatever your skin condition may be. It’s a missed opportunity to do something great for your skin and to wake up with smoother, softer, clearer skin.
Consider that excess sebum (oil), dead skin cells, and pollution are sitting on your face, not to mention makeup etc. A cleanser will emulsify all of these and remove them from the surface of your skin. When makeup is left on at night, it can seep deep down, clogging pores. Once your collagen levels star to decline due to aging, the pores do not snap back as easily once they become enlarged. Leaving makeup on can also lead to inflammation that can generate free radicals and collagen breakdown.
Nighttime cleansing can also assist in preventing skin dehydration. Skin temperature rises overnight which leads to evaporation of water from your skin. This in part, causes the skin to lose a significant portion of water at night. If you don’t wash your face, you can’t apply a moisturizer which will help hydrate your skin while you sleep.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Why do I have to wash my face again in the morning – I went to bed with it clean? As we just learned, your skin recovers overnight, which means in the morning you have more dead skin cells to slough off as well as excess sebum. These can’t be rinsed away with mere water. You need to dislodge them and then rinse them away. Water alone only removes about 65% of oil and debris from the surface of the skin. Think about what you are leaving behind and putting makeup on top of – yikes!
Like most skincare products, cleansers are not one-size-fits-all. While a gentle face wash works well for most skin types, those with special skin concerns may wish to select a cleanser that provides added benefits.
Oily or acne-prone skin types should look for a cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which will help to gently dislodge dead skin cells and debris from the pores. In addition, it will provide antibacterial properties to fight acne.
Dry skin types should use a creamy, emollient cleanser to help retain moisture.
Dull looking skin may want to try a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids which helps reveal brighter, smoother and a more even toned skin.
Sensitive skin will need an extra gentle cleanser with ingredients to soothe and calm.
Just remember that after cleansing, the skin should never feel tight or “squeaky-clean.” If it does, this indicates your cleanser is too harsh and stripping necessary oils from the skin.