Avoiding Irritated Skin in Bed


In this blog post we discuss the impact that your sleeping environment can have on your skin and what can be done to help make your skin care routine as effective as possible.  As always, if you have any questions or comments please contact us at

With the long weekend approaching, we generally spend more time than usual in bed. A pseudo-hibernation instinct takes over and when our busy lives allow it, bed becomes a primary destination. While catching up on sleep is essential for boosting our immune system, our mood and our well-being, it is important to be mindful of how and where our head lands. 

How we sleep is crucial to protecting our skin overnight. The best way to do it?  Sleep on your back. This simple trick will give your skin room for oxygen which prevents the pores from becoming occluded. Occlusion can lead to pimples, whiteheads, or blackheads. It can also cause skin to look dull—especially if makeup isn't properly removed. If you can only fall asleep on one side, ensure that any irritated areas, such as rosacea flare-ups or acne patches are facing up. Finally, sleeping on the side of your pillow with your face towards the edge instead of the middle will allow your skin to remain untouched.

Our before-bed routine is also very important to ensuring we wake up with healthy, non-irritated skin.  Before falling asleep always wash with a gentle cleanser and remember to pat your face dry (don't rub) with a clean dry cotton towel. It's also important to ensure that your hair is dry before laying your head down. The moisture in wet hair combined with the heat in your bedroom can provide the ideal breeding ground for skin-irritating bacteria.

Pillows and pillowcases are another common home for bacteria, as well as dead skin cells, dust mites, and germs that may be clogging your pores or irritating your skin.

There are many ways to ensure that your pillows aren't harming your skin health, first of all, start with washing them the right way. 

How to Wash your Pillows for Healthy Skin

Washing your synthetic or down pillows by hand or in the washing machine once every three months will be adequate for removing the bacteria that your pillows absorb.

If using a machine it is best to wash two pillows at once so that the machine is balanced. Do so on 'delicate mode' without anything else in the machine. Use a gentle liquid detergent and run the rinse cycle multiple times to ensure all soap has been washed out.

If you decide to hand wash your pillows, fill a tub with warm water, some gentle liquid detergent and a few drops of bleach.  Allow the pillow to soak in the tub for about half an hour.  You should then squeeze the pillow a few times help with the cleaning process and finally rinse out the bleach and detergent for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Hang dry, or leave the pillow on a flat surface to drain the excess water.

Once clean, it is important to ensure that the pillow is completely dry prior to sleeping with it again to avoid the potential for any mould accumulation.  Place the pillow in the dryer with plenty of space and run multiple times to fluff them up.  Some people add tennis balls in the dryer to help with this.  Once they feel dry (often requires a few cycles), fluff again and leave in a dry, ventilated environment for a day or two to completely dry out.

Please always read the instructions on the label prior to washing.  If it is advised that you dry clean your pillow, do not wash it at home to save yourself the trip and a few dollars.  Take you pillow to the dry cleaners and allow them to do the work for you.   

What to Do with your Pillow Cases?

Washing your pillowcases as often as you do your laundry (approximately weekly) is recommended, especially if your bedrooms are heated during the night, since heat and stuffy air will breed more bacteria.

More Tips

  1. Silk or polyester pillowcases may be a good option to switch to, since they are far less absorbent than cotton. [Hint: These may make for a great gift for someone you love!]

  2. Rotate pillow sides regularly.  Between washes, you can spread out bacteria build-up by flipping your pillow.