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What Happens if You Sleep with Mascara on? (& Is It Okay)

By Viktoria
May 18, 2023
5 minutes

Mascara is the most basic make-up item. Regardless if it is a party or your university classes, or it is an outing with your family or friends night out, mascara is something you can never leave out while doing your makeup. But do you think it only has pros and no cons?

That can be true up to some extent but it depends upon how you use your mascara and other make-up products. The debate about whether it is okay to wear mascara while sleeping or not is going on and this article will provide you with an answer with reasons. So, let’s stay connected till the end and solve your queries.

Is it Okay to Sleep with Mascara on?

Feeling tired and do not have the capacity to remove your makeup? Thinking of leaving mascara on for a whole night won’t be a problem as it is not directly in contact with the skin. But is it really the right thing to do?

Mascara contains a number of waxes, oils, pigments, and emollients. Some components include beeswax, paraffin wax, castor oil, mineral oil, iron oxide for pigmentation, and dimethicone emollient. On one hand, these components can provide hydration to your lashes and enhance their appearance but on the other hand, the accumulation of chemicals present in the mascara can cause a number of eye problems.

So, sleeping with Mascara on is really not okay especially if you are doing it repeatedly. Let’s see what exact problems the mascara can cause.

What Happens if You Sleep with Mascara on?

  • Brittleness

We are well aware that when we put on mascara on our eyes, it dries after some time. So, when you sleep with your mascara on, it keeps getting dry and makes your eyelashes feel heavy and brittle.

The heavy lashes will eventually start falling off. And we know how a stiff object can easily break when collides with another object. Imagine the brittle lashes rubbing with your pillowcase, there is no possibility that they will remain intact. The brittleness will cause them to fall from your eyelids.

  • Bacterial Invasion

When we sleep with the mascara on, the ingredients present in the mascara can start accumulating under our eyelids. This accumulation of masses when rubbed against the surface of the cornea causes scratches. The scratching of the cornea, conjunctiva, or sclera (white part of the eye) which are responsible for protecting the eye and providing vision exposes our eye to foreign bodies.

There are opportunistic bacteria in our hands, on our skin waiting to invade the weaker areas in our bodies. So, when the eye’s protective layers get destroyed, these bacteria attack and cause infection including keratitis, conjunctivitis, etc.

  • Irritation in Eyes

The ingredients present in the mascara can cause irritation in many ways. Firstly, the common ingredients in most mascaras are formalin and Diazolidinyl Urea which usually causes allergic reactions in the eye or hypersensitivity in those with sensitive skin.

Additionally, as we discussed earlier, the rubbing of mascara against the eye can erode the corneal tissues. As the cornea is a sensitive structure of the eye, it can detect even small foreign bodies and make your eyes feel itchy.

  • Formation of Concretions

As the night passes, the mascara starts getting dry and clumps on your eyelashes. The dried mascara starts rubbing off your eyes and forms solid masses. These masses collect under your eyelids and lead to the formation of concretions.

These concretions cause foreign body sensation in the eye and you will continuously have the urge to rub your eyes. As the masses get accumulated in your eyes, rubbing them abrades the eye tissues, or penetrates your eyes destroying the health of all your eye structures.

  • Visual Disturbance

Still thinking it is not a problem because the scratches can heal and infection can resolve? Well, other than infection and abrasion, you can also get irreversible visual disturbance. How?

When your cornea gets scratched and you leave it untreated, it can cause corneal ulcers. The ulcer opacifies the clear cornea, leading to the inability of light rays to enter the eye normally so your vision gets blurred.

Moreover, what if the solid mass penetrates your eye? The deeper structures of the eye do not have the ability to heal so once they get affected, your vision is going to decrease and the glasses will not be very helpful.

What if You Accidentally Sleep with Mascara On?

Ever happened that you came home all tired and just laid on your bed for 5 minutes but slept for the whole night? Well, that is common. Suddenly remembered about the make-up you are still wearing and now worrying about the harmful effects it is going to cause? Let’s see what can you do in such situations.

  • For a Single Night

Having mascara on your eyes for a single night does not have as many serious effects as making the same mistake over and over. Instead of panicking over this, just get up and start by washing your face with the help of a cleanser. Even if the mascara feels dry, do not scrub it hard instead remove it using a damp cloth or a water-soaked cotton pad.

Then you can use a makeup remover to make sure there are no traces of mascara left on your eyes. If you feel irritation, you can use cold compresses to soothe your eyes.

  • For Repeated Nights

Making a mistake once or twice is ok but doing it multiple times can have hazardous effects. As for eyes, imagine you wore mascara for a night and slept and it scratched your eye. The same thing happened again and the scratch will get deeper. In this way, it is going to destroy your eyes as you keep wearing new mascara over the dried one and then sleeping without removing it.

There is no solution to this. So, to save yourself from the side effects, the only thing you can do is avoid doing it.

Can Wet Wipes Remove the Mascara Completely?

After a hectic day, wet wipes seem to be the easiest way to remove your makeup including mascara. Although wet wipes can help remove your mascara, they cannot completely dissolve it, leading to some traces left on your eyes.

Other than this, what if your makeup is waterproof? There’s no use in applying wet wipes on waterproof mascara as there will be no effect of water on the mascara. The wipes can provide a moisturizing effect and assist in removing makeup but you will have to use a makeup remover or a cleanser along with the mascara to make sure there are no traces of mascara left on your eyes.


Wearing makeup can make you feel confident which adds to your positive energy. But depending upon the use, the pretty mascara can deplete the health of your eyes. As it stays on your eyes for a long time, it dries off, making concretions in the eye and leading to corneal and conjunctival scratching. This also exposes our eyes to infection which ultimately causes disturbance in vision.

So, to avoid these, it is important to remove your mascara completely before sleeping or putting on new mascara.

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