I challenged myself to sleep with my makeup on for the first time — and this is what happened

I challenged myself to sleep with my makeup on for the first time — and this is what happened

Like a Virgin

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @slavaleks

As prone as I am to self-deprecation, I'll grudgingly admit that I do harbour some redeeming qualities and traits. See: my ability to maintain a straight face through a CIA-level interrogation on my dumpster fire of a love life (thanks, ma); my penchant for donning unconventional clothing unflinchingly (Dalmatian prints and neon greens are never off the table); and my unwavering dedication to my skincare routine. Well, to a single step within my routine, to be specific. No matter rain or shine, inebriated or sleep-deprived, I have never once slept with my makeup on. Yup, slap a medal on me folks, 'cos I'm your (not-so-friendly) neighbourhood skincare stickler.

Call it vanity — or perhaps just a dogged determination to see things through — but I'm constantly tending to my visage with fastidious care. Many a drunken night have ended with me not passing out on the couch, but in a mad scramble searching for makeup removing wipes. Failing that, it's regular wet wipes or whatever 3-in-1 cleanser formulation I can find in a bathroom. Tedious, yes, yet I swear it's worth the utter relief I feel once all that paint and grease are off. Never have I slept better than with the iron-clad assurance that I'm not going to wake up with a monster zit, or dull, tired skin that'd fit right in on the set of The Walking Dead.

Ergo, you can imagine my horror when Beauty Editor Jolene Khor suggested I take up the challenge of sleeping with my makeup on for a story. A full-face for 24 hours? Blasphème. I actually felt myself breaking into a cold sweat at the thought. Still, I've never been one to back down from a dare. And so with great apprehension, I set out to document the (gruelling) experience.


I decided not to divert from my usual makeup look - starting first with my trusty Shu Uemura Petal Skin Fluid Foundation followed by the Marc Jacobs Accomplice Concealer (gotta hide those dark circles). Brows came next (I swear by the Clio Kill Brow Tattoo-Lasting Gel Pencil) then a hint of liner courtesy of Kat Von D, and a touch of Kate Tokyo mascara. To top it all off, Chanel's Rouge Coco Gloss.


I reached for my Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover reflexively upon popping my contacts out, which meant that I had to a) throw a perfectly well-soaked cotton pad away, and b) be reminded yet again of how dry and tight my skin feels. Ugh.


My initial plan was to wash my hair and face the morning after, but my willpower proved no match for my greasy, starting-to-itch-like-hell scalp. I gave in and lathered up my locks in the sink, though I did try not to get any water on my face. (Did I experience a secret joy whenever a droplet or two landed on my cheeks? Yes, yes I did.)


I received a notification on my phone from my Foreo app on a required update. This, naturally, led to an hour-long spiral whereupon I pictured my skin withering on the inside, like a diseased corn that induces horrified gasps when the leaves are peeled back. I then proceeded to console myself by slathering my hair in argan oil. If I'm going to have bad skin, at least let me have shiny hair.


My father pops in and, upon noticing my "bird wing" liner, asked why I still had my makeup on. Had to resist urge of throwing things and crying into my moisturiser.


I laid a towel out on my pillow to keep my foundation from smearing err'where. At this point, the remnants of my concealer-and-foundation duo are cracking and flaking off my face. My skin feels... scratchy and dare I say, crispy, which leads me to contemplate the possibility that this is all a karmic lesson because I once said I'd trade all the teacup pigs in the world for a platter of good honey-glazed bacon. Message received, universe.


Must have dozed off at some point, though I do jerk awake at two to check my face. My liner has migrated to my cheek, I have raccoon-like smears under my eyes, and there are foundation smudges all over the towel. Gross.
I challenged myself to sleep with my makeup on for the first time — and this is what happened (фото 1)


I stumbled to the bathroom to answer nature's call — and since it's already an acceptable time in the morning — proceeded to remove my makeup and begin cleansing. Bliss. And while my skin feels a little more parched than usual, I don't see any major differences to my complexion. There's the beginning of what looks a miniscule whitehead brewing under the surface, but that's about the extent of the damage. Sigh of relief, folks.

The final verdict

While I'd never willingly repeat the experience, it's safe to say that this experiment has opened my eyes to the possibility that sleeping with your makeup on isn't the worst thing in the world. Is it gross? Heck yes. Is it bad for your skin? Duh — but it's not going to cause irreversible damage either just 'cos you slipped up once or twice. When in doubt, just load up on the skin-nourishing stuff after. I'm looking up hyaluronic acid drips as we speak.

Like a Virgin is a bi-weekly column by Beauty Writer Emily Heng, wherein she documents her first trials in the latest, most buzzy beauty treatments as the youngest member of the Buro. Singapore team.