What Happens When You Sleep with Mascara On?

Close-up of a closed eye with mascara on eyelashes

Mascara is a basic part of eye makeup and makes your eyelashes look longer and thicker. Many people have the habit of going to bed with makeup on. There is a whole debate on the safety of going to bed with makeup on. While some find it completely okay, others are concerned with the potential consequences of heavy makeup. If you often sleep without removing makeup, you should know what happens if you sleep with mascara on. Sleeping with mascara on leads to various issues such as concretions, eye conditions, or worse.


Understanding Mascara and Its Impact on Eyelashes

Mascara is a cosmetic beauty product that is used to enhance the eyelashes by giving volume and definition to them. It is available in three forms, liquid, powder, or cream, and is usually made of various pigments, oils, waxes, preservatives, and emollients. There are waterproof mascaras available that remain put through sweat and tears. While others contain conditioning agents that nourish eyelashes and make them voluminous over time.

Close-up of an eye without mascara


Immediate Effects of Sleeping with Mascara On

While there are advantages to putting mascara on, there are several drawbacks too. Sleeping with mascara regularly leads to several eye conditions that may affect your health. Failing to remove mascara may lead to concretions which are solid masses that form underneath the eyelids. These masses cause eye pain and irritation which may lead to blindness.

If you have applied mascara for a long time, you have invited bacteria into your eyes that may cause vision problems. If your mascara rubs with pillows, this may lead to eye irritation which may rupture the cornea and lead to vision blur. Moreover, sleeping with mascara on may cause your eyelashes to clump and fall off.

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions due to prolonged exposure to mascara which may lead to redness, swelling, and eye itching.


Long-Term Consequences of Not Removing Mascara

While sleeping with mascara once or twice is fine, turning this into a habit and failing to remove mascara from your eyelashes every night may lead to serious and chronic issues that are unavoidable. These include chronic eyelash breakage as your eyelashes become thinner and brittle due to long exposure to mascara over time. As your lashes become thinner, they constantly break off and fall out.

Woman applying mascara in front of a mirror

Also, mascara may clog the hair follicles of the eyelashes, disrupting the natural growth cycle and preventing your new lashes from growing properly. This can reduce your eyelash volume.

Moreover, leaving mascara on regularly may increase the frequency of eye infections due to eye irritation and bacterial infections.


Expert Opinions and Scientific Evidence

According to a recent study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an elderly woman complained of constant eye pain and irritation. Upon checkup, concretions were spotted beneath her eyelids due to the inability to remove mascara properly for 25 years. If the concretions had gotten infected, she may be at the risk of getting completely blind.

Dr. Mona Adeli, an ophthalmologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center advises to remove makeup before bed as this allows your eyelashes to stay safe from irritating makeup particles. It is important to remove mascara with a gentle makeup remover before going to bed.


Best Practices for Eye and Eyelash Health

If you want to maintain eye health and learn how to properly remove makeup, consider the tips below.

Use Eye-Oriented Makeup Remover

If you regularly use mascara, use an eye makeup remover that is specifically designed for eyes as it contains ingredients that are gentle on the eye area. You may use micellar water and pads to remove makeup every night.

Use a Cotton Pad

Use 100% cotton pads or Q-tips to remove mascara or eye makeup as these pads don’t tear apart and leave lint in your eyes.

Thoroughly Remove Makeup

Ensure you have removed all makeup including eye makeup properly before bed. This prevents inflammation and breakouts. Use a gentle cleanser to remove remaining makeup, oil, or dirt from your skin.

Try the JOVS 4D Laser Light Therapy Mask

Woman wearing a light therapy mask for her night skincare

If you experience eye irritation and redness due to excessive makeup, you may try the JOVS 4D Laser Light Therapy Mask which is a non-invasive and safe procedure to diminish eye redness, inflammation, and dark circles in just 4 weeks. It is 6 times more effective than LED and makes your skin appear youthful and vibrant thanks to its anti-aging properties.



Sleeping with mascara once or twice is okay but going to bed with makeup on habitually puts your eye health at risk. Sleeping with mascara on leads to eye irritation, redness, and severe conditions such as blindness in extreme cases. Hence, it is important to remove eye makeup thoroughly with cleanser, makeup remover before going to bed. This helps protect your eye health and prevents your eyes from developing serious infections.

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