If you wear make-up on a daily basis, particularly foundation or BB cream, you know how important it is to thoroughly cleanse your face before you go to bed.

Hit the hay with your make-up on and you’re bound to wake up with a face full of spots and major panda eyes – not to mention a gross, stained pillowcase.

But did you know that rather than a pre-bedtime cleanse, removing your make-up as soon as you get home is even better for your skin?

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That’s according to skincare expert Abi Cleeve, founder of SkinSense.

"I make a conscious effort to complete my cleansing routine as soon as I get home, rather than waiting until I go to bed," Cleeve says. "Because the less time I have make up and grime on my face, the better. I definitely don’t need a full face of make-up while I’m cooking dinner and watching TV in the evening!

"Secondly, we’re far more likely to cleanse thoroughly if we do it before we’ve relaxed and will, therefore, spend an adequate amount of time ensuring that a day’s worth of build-up – both of dirt and air pollutants – are properly removed."

Cleeve recommends cleansing as soon as possible, then leaving your skin to breathe, before completing your nightly skincare routine before bed.

"Your cleanser should remove all make-up and air pollutants, without the need for harsh scrubbing or pulling," she says.

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"Use a balm to loosen and emulsify any oils before gently wiping away with a warm, damp cloth to ensure a completely clean surface for nightly skincare application, whilst avoiding the need to pull eyelashes or over-work the skin.

"A second gentle cleanse is an option for those who have fuller coverage in terms of make-up." 

Your second cleanser could be a gel or micellar water, but avoid foaming products that strip the skin of oils.

And what should the rest of your evening routine include?

"After cleansing, a serum or treatment suited to your skin should be the next step, a hydrating or retinol product," Cleeve says.

"Retinol can make your skin more sun-sensitive than usual, so adding it to your night-time routine is safer and more effective." 

Finally, apply a night cream or leave-on mask.

"Something that’s rich in soothing, hydrating ingredients – this ensures any potential risk of irritation from retinol, or other treatment serum, is balanced."

As for the following morning, Cleeve says that she doesn’t usually bother with cleanser at this stage.

"I sometimes skip my morning cleanse – especially during the winter, when my skin tends to be more dry and extra sensitive.

"When dealing with cold weather and central heating, I find that a morning cleanse actually leaves my skin feeling uncomfortable and tight.

"So long as I have given my skin a really generous, effective cleanse the night before, I just freshen my skin with a warm, damp cloth and a spritz of toner or essence, followed by SPF before my make-up."

But it’s up to you if you choose to start your day with cleanser, Cleeve adds.

"Above all, know your skin and what it needs. Whilst the morning cleanse can be seasonally optional for some, for those that choose to use more products or steps at night, a gentle cleanse might be appropriate."