is it bad to leave sunscreen on overnight?
Questions And Answers

Is It Bad To Sleep with Sunscreen On?

If you’re enjoying a beach vacation or live in a territory with harsh, unrelenting sunshine, you’ll be used to covering your face and body with sunscreen. If this is an essential part of your daily routine, it’ll be tempting to leave sunscreen on overnight.

Sunscreen should be removed before bed, especially from the face. You won’t be exposed to the sun’s rays overnight, and sunscreen will block the pores in the skin. Unfortunately, this can dry the skin, leading to acne and other concerns. Remove your sunscreen and use a night cream instead.

Napping with sunscreen while relaxing on a sunbed is essential to remaining safe in the sunshine. Treat sunscreen the same way women treat make-up, taking time to remove it before bed.

Is it Bad to Leave Sunscreen on Overnight?

Sunscreen protects the body and face from the sun’s UV rays. This level of protection is critical to personal safety if you spend time in direct sunlight. The risks of prolonged sun exposure include:

  • Aging and drying out of the skin
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Skin cancer

Of course, wearing sunscreen overnight is pointless because the sun sets in the early evening, rendering sunscreen obsolete in the evening and certainly overnight while you’re sleeping.

Most dermatologists and skincare experts advise against leaving sunscreen on while sleeping, as doing so risks damaging the pores.

Also, sunscreen can damage the bedsheets and pillows, causing discoloration.

Are There Advantages to Wearing Sunscreen at Night?

The sun isn’t the only source of UV rays we encounter. The everyday use of computer screens or cellphones releases some UV rays (known as high-energy visible, or HEV, light).

Experimental Dermatology explains that screen dermatitis can lead to itching skin, rashes, swelling, and general soreness, all of which are common issues that arise from traditional sunburn.

So, you may want to wear sunscreen after dark to protect your skin.

However, this is unlikely to be necessary if you utilize modern technology. Contemporary smartphones and tablets offer ‘dark mode,’ which emits less bright blue light. However, this doesn’t always apply to a computer screen or TV.

We should all reduce our time in front of screens before bed because this negates the need to wear sunscreen at night, especially when we get into bed.

what happens if you sleep with sunscreen on?

What Happens if You Sleep with Sunscreen on?

To answer this question, let’s address what the use of sunscreen does.

A sunscreen that contains physical blockers, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, lingers atop the skin and reflects UV rays away from the skin. Meanwhile, chemically absorbent sunscreen absorbs UV radiation before it sinks into the skin.

As discussed, this isn’t a concern overnight. If there’s no sun to release UV rays, there’s no need for sunscreen, and no store sells a product called ‘moonscreen.’

The only situations where you should even consider sleeping in sunscreen are:

  • You’re sleeping outside, such as while camping, and will be awoken by the sun.
  • You sleep in a room with large windows that stream direct sunlight onto your skin in the morning.

Even in these instances, think twice before wearing sunscreen in bed. It should be worn in short, controlled bursts and regularly reapplied for maximum effectiveness.

Most sunscreen sits atop the skin, leaving a white, creamy film. This shows that the product is working. In doing so, it also blocks the skin’s pores. That makes sweating difficult, leading to a difficult night’s sleep.

Can I Sleep with Sunscreen on My Face?

As sunscreen sits on your face as an external layer, it traps dead skin cells that would ordinarily be shed. These work their way into the pores – tiny holes that release oil and sweat through the skin.   

Blocking these pores wreaks havoc on your facial skin. If the pores can’t breathe, they’ll grow greasy. At best, this will cause blackheads or whiteheads, but acne is more likely, with red, sore, and itchy skin.

Clogged pores quickly make themselves known and are slow to repair. Sleeping in a hot environment wearing sunscreen for a few days can result in weeks of acne and unsightly blemishes. Still, it takes a strict skincare regime to reverse the damage.

Also, you risk smearing sunscreen all over your pillows, which can be harmful if you rub the product into your eyes or ingest it. For safety reasons, wash the sunscreen off your face around an hour before bed to allow your skin to breathe again.

Is it Bad to Sleep with Sunscreen on the Body?

Every inch of the body covered with skin has pores and needs to be able to breathe. Of course, all skin can burn and will largely be coated with sunscreen during the day.

Take a long shower before bed, as sleeping with sunscreen can cause issues. If you wear pajamas, your temperature will rise, and if your pores are blocked by sunscreen, you’ll be unable to sleep.

Staying cool overnight is essential to deep, restful sleep. This will be difficult in a territory with very hot ambient temperatures, and blocking your pores will make you feel even hotter and stickier.

The body will react to these blockages if you manage to nod off and get some sleep, despite the heat around you. Acne can still occur on the body, while a painful rash can also occur. These issues can be avoided by taking a shower before bed.

Of course, we also need to remember that sunscreen is creamy and greasy and often has a distinct scent. Your nightwear and bedsheets will need to be washed if they’re coated with sunscreen.

You’ll also need to purge sunscreen before attempting any other interaction with recreational water, most notably entering a swimming pool. According to the Journal of Health Science, sunscreen undergoes a toxic reaction to chlorine.

napping with sunscreen on

How To Remove Sunscreen At Bedtime

If you wear sunscreen during the summer months, its application will become part of your daily skincare routine. The same needs to apply to removing sunscreen at night while you’re preparing for bed.

Follow this routine to purge your skin of sunscreen before you retire for the night:

  1. Apply an oil-based cleanser to your face; make-up remover will suffice in an emergency.
  2. Massage your skin, so the sunscreen rises to the surface.
  3. Rinse your skin to remove the first layer of sunscreen.
  4. Apply a water-based facial cleanser.
  5. Rinse again and pat the skin dry with a soft towel.

You should also ensure you shower thoroughly. As discussed, you need to rid your body of all traces of sunscreen unless you’re prepared to wash your clothing or bedsheets.

Alternatives to Sunscreen While Sleeping

The skin requires hydration overnight, especially if you’re based somewhere hot enough to need sunscreen regularly because hot, dry air or air conditioning can dry the skin.

Moisturizers and night creams can assist with rectifying skin damage caused by sunscreen.

Night creams contain products like retinol. However, the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology explained that retinol is an anti-aging ingredient, but the sun renders retinol ineffective.

Consider ‘wearing your food’ overnight. A homemade face mask from antioxidant-rich berries or other foods can counter the drying effects of the sun while you sleep.

Don’t use coconut oil as a combined sunscreen and night cream. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of coconut oil is insufficient to protect any skin type from prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays during the day. However, coconut oil can aid the skin’s recovery overnight.

Just because you shouldn’t leave sunscreen on overnight doesn’t mean you can avoid wearing it altogether. Sunscreen remains pivotal to the avoidance of skin damage caused by UV rays.

So, remove sunscreen from your face and body when sunshine is no longer a concern.