You Should NEVER Sleep With Your Mascara On

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 

At the end of the day, the last thing we want to do is wash our face. When you’re exhausted, bending over the sink can make you feel like you just just might fall face first into the water. And no one wants that.

But even though it’s a major pain, washing your face before bed is super important. Especially if you wear mascara.

If you don’t take the time to wash the mascara from your eyes, you could be setting yourself up for some serious trouble. Not only are you messing up your skin by not washing your face (and clogging your pores), you’re doing more damage by not removing your mascara.

Think about it: when you put mascara on, your eyelashes get heavy from the weight of the makeup. Over the course of the day, you’ll either rub your eyes or things will fly in them, like an eyelash or dirt particles. You’re introducing bacteria into your eyes that wasn’t there before — and that bacteria can do some major damage to your eyes long-term.

“Any product that isn’t taken off has the potential to not only clog your pores, but also cause irritation, inflammation and infections. Inflammation around the eyelids can also lead to lash loss,” says Dr. Alexis Granite, a consulting dermatologist for Kiehl’s, in an interview with The Sun.

During your sleep, your face is rubbing against your pillowcase. All the crud that lives in your pillowcase — dust, dead skin, hairs, maybe traces of drool or snot, plus the dirt and oil from your face — is smeared all over your pillowcase. You’re basically rolling around in your own nastiness. And all of goop could be setting up shop in your eyes, even when you’re sleeping.

Luke Arundel, resident optometrist for Optometry Australia, warns of two common eye makeup mistakes that could lead to long-term eye damage. First, don’t apply makeup to your inner lash line, aka the waterline. So many of us have been doing it for years, but it’s really bad for your eyes. You could be spreading bacteria on the surface of your eyeliner. And since it’s hard to get the waterline truly makeup free, bits of eyeliner and mascara could be making their way into your eyelids, causing irritation.

Guido Mieth/Getty

Second, it’s important that you’re aware of expiration dates for your eye makeup. Because of how expensive mascara can be, we understandably want to use it for as long as possible. But here’s the problem: our eyes are super sensitive, and mascara wands, especially if you wear it everyday, are super gross.

“The microbiological analysis of 40 mascara samples revealed the presence of bacteria and fungi which can cause nasty bacterial eye infections,” Arundel explained to The Daily Mail.

He explains that legally, cosmetics companies don’t have to put expiration dates on their products, but it is commonly suggested that you toss your mascara after three months. Yes, really.

Look, we know you’re tired AF, but you’ve got to take a few minutes to wash off your mascara at night. Most makeup removers will do the job for you, and there is no shortage of variety when it comes to makeup removers.

And if you’re still not convinced, maybe this little gem of a horror story will convince you to wash your eye makeup off every single time. Theresa Lynch, a 50-year-old woman who lives in Sydney, Australia, went to the doctor after having prolonged issues with her eyes. She claimed constant irritation, discharge, and an uncomfortable feeling under her eyelids. But no one was expecting what they were about to find.

Because Lynch didn’t properly remove her eye makeup every night, flecks of dried mascara had made their way under her eyelids. Doctors found 25 years worth of dried mascara flecks had calcified under her eyelids. The flecks had literally become embedded into her inner eyelids. Oh.My.Gawd.

Thankfully, they were able to be surgically removed, but the procedure took 90 minutes. Unknowingly, Lynch had done major damage to her eyes. Dr. Dana Robaei released the pictures of Lynch’s inner eyelid as a cautionary tale. And since she had never seen something so bad, she published a study on her findings. The remnants became “subconjunctivital concretions,” which is basically a form of conjunctivitis. When you have 25 years worth of mascara build up inside your eyelids, the amount of damage that could be done is a lot.

“Every time Theresa was blinking, these bumps were rubbing on the surface of the eye and they pose a risk to her vision. If the scratch on the surface of the eye got infected, there is a risk this could be a potentially blinding but that would be rare,” Dr. Robaei explained to The Daily Mail.

Even though they were able to remove all of the concretions, there was permanent damage. Lynch now has scarring along the inside of her eyelids, which will certainly cause problems. And the surface of her cornea is scratched. Dr. Robaei equates the damage done to someone throwing sand in your eye. It’s that level of irritation.

If you want to avoid a fate similar to Theresa Lynch, wash your damn face. Removing your mascara isn’t actually very difficult or time consuming, and you’ll be happier in the long run. You don’t want to go blind because of not washing your damn face.

Experts recommend using a micellar water to remove your mascara and other eye makeup. There are multiple forms of micellar water, and it’s easy to use. Soak a cotton round or cotton ball and gently swipe it over your lashes. You will want to repeat it a few times to make sure you’ve removed as much as you can. Afterwards, do another rinse of your eyes with warm water to make sure you’ve gotten as much as possible.

Yes, washing your face at the end of the night is a total pain in the ass. No one will argue with you on that. But the risks are not worth the time saved.

Seriously, just wash your face. It’s not worth losing your eyesight.

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