- Removing makeup is an essential step in any skincare routine.
- There are several types of products you can use, aside from the conventional makeup removers you may think of.
- Double cleansing is a practice you may want to implement to efficiently remove all makeup.
- Makeup removal should always be a gentle process, avoiding any harsh scrub on your face. For this, selecting the right products is crucial.
Going to sleep with your makeup on can compromise your skin barrier and make you susceptible to skin and eye damage. For this reason, understanding how to remove makeup efficiently is key. In this article, you will find everything you need to know to – once and for all – choose the best approach and the best products to include in your skincare routine, to properly remove makeup, even the most stubborn of all.
Most Popular (and Useful) Products to Remove Makeup
Several products can help you remove makeup efficiently. Here, we explain some of them and how they can suit your skin needs.
1. Makeup Removers
This is the first category when we talk about the conventional makeup removers that we all know. They are formulated with non-polar solvents (“oil-loving” molecules) that will help to dissolve the oil-like components in your makeup, even those long-wear or waterproof.
You can find them generally as bi-phase formulations, in which they combine one oil-like layer (which helps remove makeup) and a second water layer (which allows the formulation to feel less greasy upon application).
Ideal for: removal of eye makeup, and lipsticks, including waterproof types.
How to use them? Saturate a cotton pad with the product and gently remove makeup from your face, eyes, and/or lips. Avoid rubbing since it may damage your skin integrity . In the case of the bi-phase makeup remover, you need to shake the product well before use.
How to properly remove eye makeup?
Your eyes are a sensitive area, so you need to be gentle and avoid scrubbing. Saturate the cotton pad and softly press it over your lids and lashes for ten seconds, giving time for the product to dissolve the eye makeup before wiping. Repeat to remove any remaining.
Make sure the product claims to be suitable for eye use.
2. Micellar Water
Micellar water is, as the name indicates, a water-based product that contains microscopic spherical structures known as micelles, which are formed by an arrangement of surfactant molecules that are responsible for the removal of all the makeup, and dirt from your face and eyes.
Ideal for: all skin types, even sensitive ones.
How does it work? The surfactants forming the micelles are characterized by having an oil-loving portion that can help trap and encapsulate all makeup and dirt molecules when they get in contact.
How to use it? Saturate a cotton pad with the product and gently remove the makeup, without rubbing your face and eyes. There is no need to rinse the product.
One popular example of this category is the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 .
What about waterproof makeup? In this case, opt for micellar waters for waterproof makeup. For instance, Garnier also offers the Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof Makeup Remover that can dissolve even the most stubborn waterproof makeup due to a thin layer of non-polar solvents that help in this function, just as the bi-phase makeup removers.
Eye makeup? Follow the same guidelines described before for makeup removers.
3. Cleansing Oil
Cleansing oils are an interesting category you may want to include in your skincare routine to help you remove makeup effortlessly.
As you may imagine, they are formulated as a mixture of different types of oils which are the ones responsible for dissolving and removing makeup, but also dirt and sunscreen in an efficient way.
Ideal for: all skin types. Even if you have oily skin you can benefit since it also helps dissolve the excess oil produced in your face. If you have sensitive skin, avoid those with perfumes or essential oils in it.
How does it work? Cleansing oils are not simply oils, they also contain surfactants that will help the oils and the makeup they have dissolved to mix and be easily rinsed off with water. In this case, when adding water to your face, you will create a milky emulsion that will leave your skin feeling smooth, soft, and replenished after complete rinsing.
How to use it? First, your hands and face must be completely dry. Add product to your hands and gently massage all your face and eyes to dissolve makeup. Add warm water and continue massaging, forming a milky emulsion. Rinse off thoroughly. You can use it on its own or as part of a double cleansing routine (explained later).
One example of this category is the Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil.
4. Cleansing Balm
A cleansing balm consists of a very thick oil-based formulation able to dissolve all makeup and dirt, even waterproof products. They generally have a solid or buttery consistency that transforms into an oil-like consistency once applied to the skin.
Ideal for: normal to dry and sensitive skin. The heavy consistency may feel unpleasantly greasy to some with oily skin. Dry skin may benefit from this type of product since it can deeply nourish and moisturize the skin. Sensitive skin should avoid products containing perfumes or essential oils.
How does it work? The oils and emollients in the formula can efficiently dissolve all types of makeup without the need for harsh scrubbing.
How to use it? Use dry hands for this. Apply a generous amount of product on dry skin and start massaging with your fingertips, doing circular motions to melt the product into an oil. Focus on those areas that need more attention such as eye makeup. Allow makeup to break down and then rinse thoroughly with water. Some products may also form a milky emulsion when adding water. You can use it on its own or as part of a double cleansing routine (explained later).
The most popular example is the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm .
5. Water-based Cleansers
In this category, we find all the regular cleansers we normally use to wash our faces daily. Although some of them are formulated to help remove makeup, they have limitations, and some makeup can be left behind. Since they are water-based, they may give you a hard time when trying to remove heavy, long-wear, or waterproof makeup.
Ideal for: on their own, they can help remove light makeup. They are ideal as a second step in a double cleansing routine (explained later).
They come in different presentations, from gels and foams to creams and lotions. The right one for you will depend on your skin type. Here is a quick guide to help you select the perfect one:
- Oily skin: gel or foamy cleansers.
- Dry skin: cream or lotion cleansers.
- Sensitive skin: cream or lotion cleansers, without perfumes or essential oils.
- Normal skin: gel, cream, or lotion cleansers.
As general advice, always opt for those that claim to be “gentle” or “mild” since they are formulated to respect your skin barrier by avoiding stripping your skin of its natural oils, which could lead to irritation and dryness.
How do they work? Cleansers contain surfactants which are characterized by having an oil-loving portion able to trap makeup, oil, and dirt, and a water-loving portion that helps rinse off with water everything that was trapped.
Level up your Skincare Routine – Double Cleanse!
Double cleansing is a skincare technique consisting of cleansing your face twice, following two consecutive steps:
1 st step: Use an oil-based cleanser (such as a cleansing oil or a cleansing balm) to dissolve and remove the makeup from your face, eyes, and lips, even the waterproof type. Then rinse off.
2 nd step: Wash your face with a regular mild and gentle cleanser (selected according to your skin type) to remove any residue of makeup or oil-based cleanser that may have remained. Then rinse off again.
Double cleansing can certainly ensure that all makeup and its potential traces are completely removed.
In case you don’t want to use any oil-based cleanser, you may also adjust this technique and make it work for you when using makeup removers or micellar water as a first step to removing makeup, followed by your regular cleanser to get rid of any makeup and product residue. Then you are ready for the next steps in your night skincare routine, applying the serums and moisturizers of your choice.
What About Makeup Wipes?
Although useful as an on-the-go alternative to quickly remove makeup, they are not that efficient to remove all makeup from your face, leaving some residue behind that you need to cleanse afterward. They also may force you to rub, which can irritate and damage your skin over time.
Additionally, avoid using baby wipes as a replacement since they are not formulated to remove makeup whatsoever.
 Hosokawa, K., Taima, H., Kikuchi, M., Tsuda, H., Numano, K., & Takagi, Y. (2021). Rubbing the skin when removing makeup cosmetics is a major factor that worsens skin conditions in atopic dermatitis patients. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 20 (6), 1915–1922. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.13777
 Walters, R. M., Mao, G., Gunn, E. T. G. E., & Hornby, S. (2012). Cleansing Formulations That Respect Skin Barrier Integrity. Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/495917