Most people shower once they get back from the beach. This removes any remaining sun cream that we have applied during the day. However, there are other cosmetics that also have sunscreen and we forget to remove it before sleeping. Should we use it both day and night? Is it bad to sleep with sunscreen on?
Sunscreen should be removed before sleeping, especially from the face. We will not be exposed to the sun’s rays at night and the sunscreen will block the pores of the skin. This can dry out the skin and lead to acne and other skin problems. However, napping with sunscreen while relaxing on a sun lounger is essential to staying safe in the sun.
There are a couple of factors to consider when deciding whether sunscreen should work 24 hours a day. Here are some of the possible benefits of wearing sunscreen at night.
Protection against photodamage
The sun is not the only thing that can damage the skin. There are some more recent studies showing that fluorescent lights and even some of your computer lights can contribute to photoaging. Some studies have found that exposure to blue light from screens can increase oxidative stress in the skin, which could lead to cell damage and wrinkles.
As a result, wearing sunscreen at night can offer some protection if we are exposed to these indoor rays. Expert dermatologists recommend moisturizers that contain physical blockers like titanium oxide and zinc dioxide (mineral-based sunscreens) for the best protection against blue and fluorescent light.
However, more research is needed on how blue lights and fluorescent lights from our devices affect us.
Sunburn isn’t the only way the rays can damage your skin: Exposure to the sun, fluorescent light, and blue light can also contribute to a condition called melasma, which causes uneven dark spots. Melasma is more common among people with darker skin types.
For patients with darker skin tones or melasma, this is where all-day sunscreen can be important. If we have really bad melasma, some of those fluorescent and blue lights can contribute to it to some degree. And wearing a sunscreen can block those interior rays from causing further damage.
There are also some potential drawbacks to putting on sunscreen at night.
Doesn’t have many extra benefits
While not a disadvantage per se, there is also no reason why we should wear sunscreen in bed. There is no downside to using sunscreen lotion before bed, but there is no added benefit either. The purpose of sunscreen-based lotions is to block UVA and UVB rays, which cause photodamage, pigmentation, wrinkles, skin aging, and early cancers.
If we apply it at night when there’s not much UV around, we just won’t get that added benefit. That said, if we find that SPF lotion provides the best hydration, it’s better to moisturize than not.
As sunscreen sits on the face as an outer layer, it traps dead skin cells that would normally slough off. These work their way into the pores, tiny holes that release oil and sweat through the skin. Blocking these pores will wreak havoc on facial skin. If the pores cannot breathe, they will become greasy. At best, this will result in blackheads or whiteheads. Acne is more likely, with red, sore, itchy patches of skin.
Clogged pores appear quickly and take time to repair. Sleeping in a hot environment wearing sunscreen for a few days can result in weeks of unsightly acne and blemishes. Even then, a strict and complex skincare regimen is needed to reverse the damage.
In addition, we run the risk of staining the pillow with sunscreen, which can be harmful if you rub the product in your eyes or accidentally ingest it.
Some skin care products are best applied before bed. Retinols, for example, are topical vitamin A products, which can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. But they can make the skin sensitive to the sun, so it is advisable to use them only at night.
And if retinol products are part of your nighttime skincare routine, sunscreen can hamper that ability and affect your skin. The downside is that nighttime is the best time to apply beneficial topicals that contain active ingredients with maximum exposure, such as retinols. Therefore, it may be better to opt for a different moisturizer that allows the retinol to work better with the skin.
How to remove sunscreen before bed
If we wear sunscreen during the summer months, its application will become part of the daily skincare routine. The same should apply to removing sunscreen at night before going to bed. A routine can be:
- Apply an oil-based cleanser to your face. Makeup remover will do the job in an emergency.
- Massage the skin, so that the sunscreen rises to the surface.
- Rinse the skin to remove the first layer of sunscreen.
- Apply a second facial cleanser, this time water-based.
- Rinse again and dry the skin with a soft towel.
We should also make sure to shower well. We must remove all traces of sunscreen from the body unless we are prepared to wash clothes or sheets.
It is not necessarily bad to sleep with sunscreen. But in most cases, it is unnecessary. Instead, it may be wiser to use bedtime as an opportunity to nourish your skin in other ways. It is recommended to choose a night moisturizer based on your skin care goals and skin type.
However, a night cream should have different ingredients and consistency than a day cream. Night creams are often thicker and contain ingredients designed to moisturize and repair skin damage. Ideally, moisturizers should be fragrance-free.
It is advisable to look for lotions that contain the following ingredients, depending on the type of skin and our preferences
- Lipids: compounds that mimic the skin’s natural barrier
- Ceramides: types of fats or lipids that mimic the skin’s natural barrier
- Niacinamide: a form of vitamin B3 that can help brighten skin and calm redness
- Peptides: Amino acids that can support the production of collagen and elastin
- Antioxidants: Substances that can decrease free radicals that cause skin damage
- Retinol – a form of vitamin A that can help with fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots
- Alpha and beta-hydroxy acids: Substances that can improve skin dullness, provide exfoliation, and help the night cream reach the deeper layers of the skin