bronze bottle of sunscreen with title"Do You Need to Wash off Sunscreen at Night?"

Do You Need to Wash Off Sunscreen At Night?

While it is true that over washing the skin can wreak havoc on your skin’s health, it is incredibly important to wash off sunscreen at night. 

Having a nighttime skincare routine is essential to the health of your skin. Washing off the day’s dirt, pollution, and sebum is an important part in maintaining the skin’s barrier function. 

Is It Ok To Use Sunscreen Before Sleeping? 

sandy beach with the words "SPF" written in it and a sunscreen bottle to the right of it

The purpose of sunscreen is to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

These rays can cause DNA damage and contribute to photoaging. This leads to a loss of collagen and elastin.

While it is extremely important to protect the skin, you only need to ensure you wear sunscreen while the sun is actually out.

Wearing sunscreen at night takes up valuable space in your skincare routine. Instead, you need to focus on regenerative skincare habits at night.

When sleeping, the skin repairs itself. It increases collagen synthesis, increases hydration, and allows skincare treatments to penetrate into the skin and work effectively.

Therefore, using sunscreen at night will have no positive effect on your skin, unless the sunscreen contains hydrating ingredients.

Even then, using a sunscreen is not ideal at night because its main ingredients will be chemical or physical UV filters – These will have no benefit on the skin without the presence of UV rays.

Therefore, it is wasteful to use sunscreen at nighttime.

By the time you wake up in the morning, the active UV filters would have already degraded, providing no protection for the morning sun.

Therefore, it is imperative to wash your sunscreen off at night, and apply a fresh layer of sunscreen each morning to ensure you are protected from the sun.

What Happens When You Don’t Wash Off Sunscreen at Night? 

There are a few things that can happen when you don’t wash your sunscreen off at night.

The first thing that can happen is that your skin can become dry and irritated.

Without a proper skincare routine in place, your skin will not get the necessary hydrating ingredients it needs to stay hydrated.

As mentioned earlier, even if the sunscreen contains hydrating ingredients, the major focus of a sunscreen is its UV filters. The hydration provided from a sunscreen is likely not enough to keep the skin properly moisturized.

The next thing that you may experience when you don’t wash off your sunscreen is clogged pores and breakouts.

This occurs when the skin produces sebum and mixes with the sunscreen. This mixture can be incorporated with dead skin cells and cause clogging of the hair follicles.

This leads to inflammation and acne.

Lastly, not washing off your sunscreen can lead to irritated skin and burning sensations in the eyes.

Sunscreens with chemical filters can be very irritating to the skin. Leaving them on for long periods of time can cause redness, inflammation, and even itchy skin.

In addition, filters like avobenzone often cause eye irritation, redness and stinging. While you sleep, your skincare products can migrate into or close to your eyes as you toss and turn. This can be uncomfortable and irritating in the morning. 

What’s The Best Way To Remove Sunscreen?

There are a few ways that sunscreen can be removed. One way to remove sunscreen is by using an oil cleanser.

This is the recommended way to remove sunscreen. An oil cleanser can be massaged onto dry skin to break up dirt, oil, makeup, and sunscreen. It needs to be washed off with a second foaming cleanser.

It is gentle on the skin, does not cause irritation, does not require cotton pads to remove the sunscreen, and only a small amount is needed to get the job done.

You can alternatively use a cleansing balm. This has the same idea. It has a gentle oil-like consistency that can be massaged onto dry skin before removing everything with a second cleanser.

Secondly, you can use your foaming cleanser twice to remove all sunscreen and makeup. The first time you use the foaming cleanser will break up the makeup and sunscreen. Then, wash it off and use your cleanser again. This will allow you to actually cleanse your skin of excess dirt and oil and give a “deep clean”.

Lastly, you can use micellar water to remove sunscreen. These can be a gentle and effective way to remove makeup and sunscreen. You can pour some out on a cotton pads, or even pour the liquid into your hands and massage onto the face. Using a cotton pads may irritate the skin. In addition, it can be messy trying to spread the liquid across the face.

However, it effectively removes sunscreen. To read a comparison of the benefits and downfalls of oil cleansers and micellar water, take a look at this article which explains this in detail. 

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