Written by: Ellen Craft
Updated March 26, 2021
For many of us, the bedtime routine is an important way to wrap up the day and is a critical component of good sleep hygiene (1). The acts of changing into pajamas, brushing our teeth, washing our faces, and turning out the lights help us unwind and prepare for slumber. However, when your schedule is busy, it could be tempting to skip a step in your nightly routine so you can surrender to sleep sooner. You might wonder if it really is a bad idea to skip face washing at night.
The Benefits of Washing Your Face Before Bedtime
Face washing is an important component of any daily skin care routine, and washing your face twice a day (2) is commonly recommended. However, if you are thinking of eliminating one daily face cleansing session, don’t sacrifice the pre-bedtime wash.
Cleansing your face at the end of the day is important because it removes cosmetics as well as unwanted dirt, soil, smoke, or bacteria that has accumulated from environmental exposure (3). Allowing these pollutants to settle into your skin’s pores overnight can irritate your skin, so it’s a good practice to wash them away at the end of day.
The benefits of washing your face at night also extends to facial products such as night creams. Nighttime is prime time for application of facial lotions, serums, and medications, and a freshly washed face is ideal for the application of these products.
Washing Your Face Before Bed Can Help Prevent Breakouts
For people who have certain skin conditions such as acne, washing the face is an important part of treating breakout-prone skin (4). Washing the face at bedtime is particularly important because going to bed with residue on the face (5) such as dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria, and sebum (6) can worsen skin conditions.
If you are unsure whether to use a washcloth or scrubbing pad when washing your face, most dermatologists recommend that their patients use their hands instead. Rough washcloths, exfoliating scrubs, or abrasive pads can aggravate the skin (7) and cause acne or rosacea flare-ups. Additionally, dermatologists recommend using a mild, multipurpose soap to prevent irritation, because skin irritation can worsen acne-prone skin.
Face Washing for People with Sensitive Skin
Many people struggle with skin sensitivities. Approximately 60% to 70% (8) of women and 50% to 60% of men report having some degree of sensitive skin. While daily face washing can help prevent or improve acne and other skin conditions, intensive washing can damage the skin’s barrier and cause dryness, especially if you have sensitive skin. Also, although soap-based products (9) have been popular for centuries, they can unfortunately irritate or dry out the skin.
If you are apprehensive about cleansing your face due to skin sensitivity, it’s best to choose from some of the modern moisturizing cleansers that are now available. These cleansers gently remove makeup, dust, and other toxins without damaging or irritating the skin. They also are mild and can be easily rinsed off.
To protect and pamper sensitive skin, try using a moisturizer after you wash your face. This combination has been shown to be effective acne care (10) for people with sensitive skin.
Face Cleansing As Part of a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
If you have trouble falling asleep, you may want to combine your nightly face washing routine with a warm bath (11). Research has shown that bathing or showering before going to sleep decreases the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the quality of sleep. Take advantage of the warm water in the bath or shower for a soothing face cleansing.
Your evening face washing session can also serve as a relaxing ritual by incorporating beauty products for sleep. Try a face wash with a calming aroma to help unwind, or use a lavender-scented face lotion after cleansing to help sleep more soundly. You may find yourself looking forward to your bedtime face-washing routine to help decompress, feel soothed, and melt away the stressors of the day.
- https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000757.htm Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22293186/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29377341/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17014635/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21572782/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21519409/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22808307/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31157225/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11059364/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://www.ospublishers.com/skin-care-creams-formulation-and-use.html Accessed on March 25, 2021.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10408315/ Accessed on March 25, 2021.