Confession time: Many women (including some of our Faveable experts) admit they’ve woken up on a pillow coated with yesterday’s cosmetics. However, doing this is soooooo not a good idea! Drifting off to dreamland in your bronzer and mascara might not seem like a big deal, but it can damage your skin and accelerate the aging process. No bueno, right?
We agree, which is why we’ve compiled a must-read collection of tips and advice about makeup remover. Whether you can’t figure out how to use your cleansing wipes or just need some help storing your bottle of makeup remover properly, we’ve got you covered!
What is makeup remover?
Makeup remover is a personal-care product that gently erases foundation, lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, and other cosmetics from your face or body. It’s usually used with other skincare products, such as face wash, astringent, and moisturizer.
You can buy an all-purpose makeup remover or look for an option that focuses on a specific part of your face, such as the eye area or mouth. Special formulas are available for sensitive skin, dry skin, acne-prone skin, and numerous other skin types.
Are toner and makeup remover the same thing?
Nope, but that doesn’t stop some women from attempting to remove their makeup with toner.
Toner is meant for cleansing, but it doesn’t gently remove cosmetics the same way makeup remover does. If you decide to use toner, apply it after using makeup remover and facial cleanser. Dab some on a soft washcloth or cotton ball, then gently wipe it around your face and neck. It helps grab any debris that your other skincare products may have missed, and it can make pores appear smaller by unclogging them.
What types of makeup remover can I buy?
Makeup remover comes in several forms, including:
- Cleansing towelettes
- Liquid that isn’t oil-based
We’ve also seen products advertised as all-purposed makeup removers; basically, they claim to remove makeup and cleanse your face in one convenient step. To be honest, we aren’t really a fan of these all-in-one products. We’ve had better results with traditional makeup removers.
Who needs makeup remover?
Anybody who wears makeup! We’ve heard plenty of excuses like “I don’t need makeup remover because I don’t wear a lot of makeup” or “Face wash is enough for me because I use organic cosmetics.”
Sorry ladies, but that’s just not how it works. If you wear makeup, you need some sort of makeup remover, whether it’s a cleansing towelette or an organic coconut oil (we like Viva Labs, as you may have noticed if you browsed our list of the best makeup removers).
It doesn’t matter if you have dry skin, oily skin, or combination skin. If you don’t use makeup remover, you might end up with clogged pores and/or an eruption of acne. Oh, and did we mention stained bedding?
Should I use more than one type of makeup remover?
Not always, but sometimes it’s a good idea. There are many makeup removal products that claim to erase the trace of any and all cosmetics - and some of them actually live up to their promises.
However, we recommend using a separate makeup remover for your eye area if you wear heavy eyeliner, waterproof mascara, or deep, dark shadow. The eye area is delicate, and rubbing it too hard can cause wrinkles or even damage the function of your eye. Makeup removers designed specifically for the eye area typically address these concerns with soothing ingredients that nourish as they clean.
You may also want to use a separate makeup remover if you’re a fan of long-lasting lip gloss or matte lipstick. Sometimes it’s difficult to remove these products without repeatedly scrubbing your lips, and that’s bad news if you’re not using a gentle makeup remover. Your lip area can become visibly cracked and raw, and you might develop small bumps above and below your lips.
Do I need to use makeup remover every day?
No, you only need to use makeup remover on the days when you apply cosmetics. It’s specifically made to remove makeup, so you don’t need to use it during your skincare routine if you had a cosmetic-free day.
What are the benefits of using makeup remover?
You don’t have makeup on your face anymore, so you can create a new look when you’re ready. Aside from the obvious, here are some other benefits you may experience if you remove your cosmetics with makeup remover:
- Soft, smooth skin thanks to the nourishing ingredients found in many makeup removers
- Smaller pores because you’ve wiped away pore-clogging particles
- Less acne/blemishes
- A radiant, youthful complexion because you’re making it easier for your body to get rid of dead skin cells each night
Remind yourself of these amazing benefits when you stumble into your home at 2 a.m. after a fun night out with the girls or stay up all night watching Netflix.
Selecting the Right Makeup Remover
In general, what is the best makeup remover?
We can’t speak for everyone (although Allure and Elle agree with us), but we think that Simple Micellar Cleansing Water Makeup Remover totally rocks. It doesn’t look like anything special, but it has tiny magnetic molecules that gently draw cosmetics out of your pores without damaging your skin.
If price isn’t an issue, consider splurging on Lancome Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover. It gently dissolves stubborn eye makeup using an ophthalmologist-tested formula suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. We can’t get enough of the subtle floral aroma this makeup remover leaves behind (thank you, rose oil extract).
What is the best makeup remover for acne-prone skin?
We think Klorane Soothing Makeup Remover with Cornflower is great for removing makeup from acne-prone skin. It doesn’t contain oil, so it won’t leave behind a greasy residue that could potentially clog your pores. It’s also fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, which means it may help prevent breakouts triggered by reactions to the product.
What is the best makeup remover for waterproof makeup?
Removing waterproof eye makeup is a cinch with Lancome Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover. We already mentioned this makeup remover above, but we love it enough to mention it again.
You can even use this makeup remover while you’re applying makeup rather than waiting til the end of the day. Like, say you accidentally smudge your permanent liquid liner or make a mark that’s more of a squiggle than a line - no biggie! Lancome Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover can totally save the day by gently erasing the evidence of your makeup mishaps.
What is the best makeup remover for eye makeup?
Okay, we apologize for sounding like a broken record, but we’re going to go with Lancome Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover here. It removes waterproof mascara and liquid liner like a boss, and it even loosens thick layers of creamy shadow and glitter.
On a budget? Try Neutrogena Cleansing Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover instead. You can get it for around $10 at most drugstores, and Amazon.com also carries it. It has a lighter, less-oily formula (reviewers compare it to water) than Lancome Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover, but it’s still ideal for sensitive skin.
How do I determine my skin type?
Some makeup removers are designed for a specific skin type, so it’s important to know yours before you shop. If you have an appointment with a dermatologist or primary care physician in the near future, ask your healthcare provider about your skin type.
Can’t wait that long? Try this simple test:
- Place a sheet of blotting paper across your face (you can substitute tissue paper)
- Hold it there for at least 10 to 15 seconds
- Remove the paper and check which spots, if any, have oil
If you notice heavy oil all over the paper, then you have oily skin. A paper with hardly any oil residue signifies dry skin. Check for oil around the forehead and nose if you suspect you have combination skin.
You don’t really need a test to figure out if you have acne-prone skin or sensitive skin. If your skin breaks out easily or frequently, choose a specialized makeup remover that won’t irritate your skin.
Using Your Makeup Remover
Should I wash my face before or after using makeup remover?
Always remove your makeup before you wash your face with a facial cleanser. If you wash your face first, you’ll probably end up smearing your makeup all over the place and making it more difficult to remove. You also won’t get your face very clean because makeup remover is meant to remove makeup, not clean your entire face. In other words, you generally need to wash off the residue your makeup remover leaves behind unless you’re using a dual-purpose product that lets you skip the rinse.
After you remove your makeup and wash your face, finish with a toner or astringent if desired. This helps remove any makeup you may have missed during the first two steps of your skincare routine.
Do I need to shake my makeup remover before I use it?
No, probably not unless the container says you should or the formula looks weird. If the layers in your liquid makeup remover separate, you may need to gently rotate the bottle a few times.
Shaking makeup remover when you don’t need to is a bad idea because it can make it bubbly or foamy. This can potentially affect the performance of your product.
What is the best way to remove eye makeup?
Soak a cotton pad or washcloth with liquid eye makeup remover, then hold it against each eye for 10 or 15 seconds. This gives the formula time to gently, but effectively, loosen your eye makeup, which may reduce the amount of rubbing you have to do. Rubbing your eyes too much can cause wrinkles and broken blood vessels.
Gently slide the cotton pad or washcloth across each eye. Don’t scrub; this can damage eyes and the delicate skin around them.
Make sure you use a separate cloth for the rest of your face so that you don’t transfer your mascara and liner. After you’re done removing your makeup, use a facial cleanser to make sure there’s no debris left.
How do I remove glitter cosmetics?
Glitter cosmetics are often a pain to remove, especially if you use cosmetics with large, chunky flakes of glitter. Glitter can irritate skin and eyes, so be careful not to rub your face too hard during the makeup removal process. Press, don’t rub!
Use a product that’s known for effectively removing heavy or long-lasting makeup, such as Smashbox It's a Wrap Waterproof Makeup Remover. Apply it to a clean cloth or cotton pad, then gently wipe down your face. Make sure you wipe your face in circular motions away from your eyes; this helps prevent glitter from migrating into them. If the glitter is on your eyes, hold a soaked cloth on your eyes before moving it around.
Still got some glitter stuck on your face? StyleCaster suggests removing it with a strip of Scotch tape.
How do I remove body makeup?
Some body makeup rinses off easily with regular soap and water, especially if you’re using makeup designed for the body rather than the face. If you apply cosmetics intended for your face on your body, use a regular makeup remover to get your body clean.
We recommend using cleansing towelettes on your body because they’re larger than cotton pads. That way, you can quickly and conveniently wipe down your makeup-covered body instead of dabbing liquid on multiple cotton pads.
Can you use makeup remover to take off nail polish?
You might luck out and get makeup remover to dissolve your nail polish, but the odds aren’t in your favor. Makeup removers typically work their magic with a blend of oil and water, while nail polish remover gets the job done with acetone. Nail polish remover could technically remove makeup, but don’t try it. It’s dangerous.
Seriously, we want to make it very clear that you can’t use nail polish remover on your face. It’s too strong for your skin, and it can hurt you - especially if you get it in your eyes. We’ve seen talk about swapping makeup remover and nail polish remover on the Web, but it’s just not something you should ever do.
Can you use makeup remover to get cosmetics out of your clothing?
Sometimes, but should you do it? Not if you have a better option.
If you get makeup on your clothes, flip your clothing inside out and apply some dish soap. Rub it in gently, then flip your clothing back to the other side and rinse away the soap with cold water (hot water will set the stain!). Toss it in the washer, add some detergent, and wash as usual. The stain should disappear - or at least fade significantly.
If you insist on using makeup remover, try a cleansing towelette. Hold it against the stain for a minute or so, then gently rub the stain from multiple directions. This should loosen the stain, although it might not completely go away. Make sure you don’t use a liquid makeup remover, as many of them contain oil(s) that can stain your clothing.
How can I take my makeup off without makeup remover?
We don’t recommend it, but we’ll spare you the lecture. Depending on your skin type and how much makeup you wear, you might be able to gently dissolve your makeup with coconut oil.
Got a diaper bag on hand? Reach for a pack of unscented wipes if you’ve got ‘em. Diaper wipes remove makeup fairly well (one of our writers admits to using Seventh Generation wipes in lieu of makeup remover a few times), but keep in mind they aren’t designed for facial cleansing. They might irritate your skin and cause stinging eye pain, especially if you use scented wipes. Use them in a bind if you have to, but don’t make them part of your everyday beauty routine.
Storing and Transporting Your Makeup Remover
Where should I keep my makeup remover?
Keep your makeup remover in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Don’t store it in a fridge or freezer; the cold may affect the formula. The exception is if you use a makeup remover cream; this generally does okay in the fridge.
Women generally store makeup remover in a vanity, behind a bathroom mirror, in a makeup bag or purse, or under a bathroom sink. These locations are all okay.
What happens if my makeup removal cloths dry out?
Unfortunately, you’re out of luck if your makeup removal cloths dry out. Rehydrating them might seem like a good idea if you’re in a bind, but it’s not an ideal long-term solution.
When you rehydrate makeup removal cloths, you dilute the original formula. They may look and feel the same as they once did, but they no longer have the same composition. You might even rinse away important ingredients that delay antimicrobial growth, which basically means you’re rubbing bacteria all over your face each time you wipe.
How do I prevent my makeup removal cloths from drying out?
Take out a makeup removal cloth and quickly close the pouch they’re in, making sure to seal it tightly. If you don’t seal it tightly, you’ll lock in a bunch of air. This speeds up the drying process.
You may want to put the pouch inside of a plastic baggie and seal that as well. This further prevents air from drying out your cloths.
How do I bring my makeup remover on vacation?
Makeup removal cloths are great for vacations because they’re lightweight and less likely to leak than a bottle of fluid. If you decide to bring a bottle anyway, seal the lid as tightly as possible and wrap a piece of tape around it. Place the bottle inside of a plastic baggie and seal that tightly.
Set your baggie in a full makeup bag or surround it with clothing. This helps keep it from bouncing around while you’re in transit.
My makeup remover leaked all over my cosmetics pouch - how do I clean this up?
Yikes! Remove everything from your makeup bag and set it aside. If makeup remover got on any of your cosmetics or makeup tools, you’ll have to clean those as well.
If you’ve got a vinyl makeup bag, wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth or soft paper towel. If you notice streaks, spray a bit of all-purpose cleaner on a cloth and wipe them away. Use a circular motion rather than a back-and-forth motion to avoid scratching your bag.
If you’ve got a fabric makeup bag, flip it inside out and treat the stain from the inside first. Add a few drops of dish soap, and rub them in gently with your thumb. Flip the bag back to its original side, and rinse the soaped-up area clean with cold water. Don’t use hot water because it will set the stain.
Issues and Concerns
When does makeup remover expire?
Check your makeup remover bottle for a specific expiration date. If it doesn’t have one, toss your makeup remover after 6 to 12 months - even if it looks and smells okay.
Here’s the deal: Bacteria loves makeup and facial products. After you open a container of makeup remover, it becomes susceptible to harmful microorganisms, even if it has antimicrobial properties. The formula breaks down over time, leaving you susceptible to issues like contact dermatitis.
The oil has separated from the water in my makeup remover - can I still use it?
In most cases, this is a totally normal occurrence - especially if you recently purchased the makeup remover. Gently tilt the bottle back and forth to mix the oil with the water. Notice we said tilt, not shake! You don’t want to end up with a foamy mess.
My makeup remover smells funky - should I throw it out?
Absolutely. Makeup remover doesn’t last forever, and we recommend tossing it if it develops a funky odor.
Yes, even if it’s new and/or hasn’t reached the expiration date that’s printed on the container. As a general rule of thumb, you should never use any cosmetic or skincare product that smells weird. It’s probably got bacteria in it, and you don’t want to smear that across your face.
What should I do if my makeup remover makes my skin break out?
Discontinue use immediately so you can make sure the outbreak truly came from your makeup remover. After your skin clears up, try using the makeup remover again. If acne reappears, your makeup remover is the culprit.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll react to every makeup remover. Choose one with a different formula than you’re currently using, or look for one geared toward acne-prone or sensitive skin.
If issues continue, talk to your dermatologist.
How do I know if I’m allergic to my makeup remover?
Look for signs of redness, swelling, or itching. You may also develop bumps or blisters where you used the product. These are signs of irritant contact dermatitis.
In some rare cases, people develop a serious reaction that affects the immune system. If you have trouble breathing, contact a medical professional immediately. Have the container of makeup remover on hand so that your healthcare provider can pinpoint what triggered the reaction.
Also, keep in mind that many skincare products contain extract from flowers or foods. If you’re allergic to either of these things, make sure they’re not listed as an ingredient on your makeup remover. A generic ingredient such as “fragrance” may warrant a call to the company if you have severe allergies; you need to make sure you’re using something that’s safe for you.
Is makeup remover poisonous?
Not always, but we certainly don’t recommend licking your cleansing towelettes or chugging a bottle of organic makeup remover. Makeup remover, regardless of its ingredient list, is designed for external use. Don’t put it in your mouth, and keep it away from curious kiddos.