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

Is It Bad To Sleep with Sunscreen On?

If you’re enjoying a vacation on the beach or you 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 may feel 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 pores in the skin. This can dry out the skin, leading to acne and other skin concerns. Remove your sunscreen and use a night cream instead.

Napping with sunscreen on while relaxing on a sunbed is essential to remain safe in the sunshine. Treat sunscreen the same way that 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 any kind of prolonged time in direct sunlight.

The risks of prolonged sun exposure include:

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

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

Most dermatologists and skincare experts will advise against leaving your sunscreen on while you’re sleeping. It’s believed that doing so risks causing damage to 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 during the day and night.

The everyday use of a computer screen or cellphone releases some UV rays, which is known as high-energy visible, or HEV, light.

Experimental Dermatology explains that so-called ‘screen dermatitis’ can lead to itching skin, rash, 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 is designed to emit less of this bright blue light. However, this doesn’t always apply to a computer screen or TV.

We should all reduce the time we spend in front of screens before bed. 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 why we use sunscreen does.

A sunscreen that contains physical blockers, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, linger atop the skin and reflect 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 is 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 as follows:

  • 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 and side effects.

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 will wreak havoc on your face’s skin. If your pores cannot breathe, they’ll grow greasy. At best, this will result in blackheads or whiteheads. Acne is more likely, with red, sore, and itchy patches of 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. Even then, it takes a strict and complex skincare regime to reverse the damage.

Also, you risk smearing sunscreen all over your pillow, which can be harmful if you rub the product into your eyes or accidentally ingest it. In the spirit of safety, wash your sunscreen off your face around an hour before bed, as this allows time for your skin to breathe again.

Is it Bad to Sleep with Sunscreen on the Body?

The face isn’t the only body part that contains skin pores.

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

Take a long shower before getting into bed, as sleeping with your sunscreen on can cause all manner of issues. If you wear pajamas, this is particularly troublesome. Your temperature will rise, and if your pores are blocked by sunscreen, you’ll be unable to sleep.

The ability to stay cool overnight is essential to deep, restful sleep. This will already be troublesome in a territory that offers overwhelmingly 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 arise on the body, while a painful rash can also occur. All of this 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. If you coat your entire bedsheets or nightclothes with sunscreen, they’ll need washing in the morning.

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

napping with sunscreen on

How to Remove Sunscreen at Bedtime

If you’re wearing 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 do the job 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 second facial cleanser, this time water-based.
  5. Rinse again, and pat your 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

Alternative products are available in any store that provides the theoretical benefits of wearing sunscreen at night without the risks or drawbacks. These are typically marketed as night creams.

Night creams can go some way to course-correcting any skin damage caused by sunscreen. The skin requires hydration overnight, especially if you are based somewhere hot enough to need sunscreen regularly. Hot, dry air or air conditioning can dry out the skin.

Of course, you can always use a moisturizer for that. Night creams will contain products like retinol, though. The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology explains how retinol is considered an anti-aging ingredient, but the sun renders retinol ineffective.

Alternatively, consider ‘wearing your food’ overnight if you’re keen to save money. A homemade face mask from antioxidant-rich berries or other foods can be a good way to counter any impact from the sun while you sleep.

Be wary of claims that coconut oil can act as a sunscreen and a 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 by day.

Just because you should not leave sunscreen on overnight, this doesn’t mean that you can skip out on wearing it altogether. Sunscreen remains pivotal to anybody keen to avoid skin damage caused by UV rays. So, remove it when sunshine is no longer a concern.