Why cleansing your skin at night is the most important skincare step

Close-up of a woman applying foam for washing on her face and looking at the mirror. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Close-up of a woman applying foam for washing on her face and looking at the mirror. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — You have probably read about many different important skincare steps that you must do and cannot skip. And I’m here to tell you that the absolute most important skincare is simply cleansing your skin properly at night before you go to bed.

It really is just plain common sense. With the advances in cosmetics science, makeup products are becoming increasingly long-wearing. Consumers want makeup foundations, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow fillers and lipsticks that last and last, and also preferably resistant to water, sweat and friction—from the moment of application to the moment of makeup removal. Basically, any worthy makeup should be able to survive a zombie apocalypse.


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Now, what if you don’t wear makeup? If you’re someone who cares about your skin, I believe you would at least use sunscreen. Physical sunscreens that contain UV filters like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide sit on your skin like a physical barrier. There are also chemical sunscreens that has chemical UV filters that are absorbed into the skin, as well as sunscreens that contain both physical and chemical UV filters.

Now, imagine going to bed with your makeup and sunscreen still on your face. On top of that gunk, think about sebum, sweat, bacteria, and airborne pollutants such as cigarette smoke and particulate matter (PM) that have accumulated on your skin over the day. Yes, say hello to your daily grime.

That may not gross you out. You may have even committed this skin crime when you work late and have zero energy left. I’m afraid that’s not an excuse. This is not even a vanity issue. It’s a skin health problem. Here’s what will happen to your skin if you keep skipping the cleansing step at night.

Make it a point to remove makeup after work hours. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Make it a point to remove makeup after work hours. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Comedones and acne

When makeup and skincare are not washed off, they can clog your pores even when they are labelled as non-comedogenic. When a pore gets clogged up with oil, dead skin cells, makeup and skincare products, you can get a blackhead or whitehead. A clogged pore doesn’t always lead to pimples (that requires adding acne-causing strains of bacteria to the mix) but it definitely sets the stage for pimples.

Disrupted Skin Functions = Premature Skin Ageing

In the day, the skin shields itself from free radicals produced by internal and external stressors such as emotional stress, irregular meals, lack of sleep, UV rays, and airborne pollutants.

And at night, the skin regenerates and repairs itself. Sleep is the best time for the body to recover. This is the time where skin cells need your love and support, where the benefits of your skincare products have the most impact. When you are sleeping, blood circulation increases and the skin works to rebuild its various cells such as collagen, and repair damaged cells caused by UV exposure.

If you’re not cleaning your skin at night, you don’t give your skin a chance to get better, to repair damaged cells, and this leads to premature skin ageing. Worse, the skin can also become more prone to dryness and inflammation, and that can manifest into more serious skin conditions in the long run.