Arguably, the worst part of wearing makeup is removing it. You spend so much time perfecting your look before heading out for the day or night to come, only to have to wash it off at the end.
We should note though that the one cardinal rule of makeup is to remove it before bed. “Oil, dirt, pollutants and makeup when left on the skin can lead to breakouts, irritation, styes, and even accelerated aging of the skin,” explains New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum. “The longer this debris sits on the skin, the more likely these undesirable effects can occur, which is why leaving your makeup on overnight is even more problematic. Overnight, this is compounded potentially by additional occlusion by a pillow.” Even worse is waking up to makeup stains all over your pillowcase.
Luckily, there are plenty of makeup removal options in the market nowadays that are far more efficient than your everyday facial cleanser and water. According to Dr. Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist and author of “Feed Your Face,” you should “choose a makeup remover depending on the type and amount of makeup you wear. It should easily remove makeup without rubbing or leaving skin red and irritated.”
With this guidance in mind, we’ve consulted various beauty experts about the best ways to remove makeup out there. Keep reading to discover their picks.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water ($14.99; amazon.com)
“I recommend Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water for my patients with sensitive skin,” says Wu. “It gently cleanses and contains ingredients like mannitol to help hydrate sensitive skin, which tends to be dry.” Celebrity makeup artist Latrice Johnson echos this sentiment — this is her go-to makeup remover for sensitive skin because it’s “gentle, yet effective.”
Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($9.99; ulta.com)
“I wear waterproof makeup, and have tried many different ones over the years. I keep going back to the Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, which you can also use to remove watetproof lip color and sunscreen,” says Wu of this remover which is also a top pick of Johnson and New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach.
Face Halo Reusable Makeup Remover Pads ($22; amazon.com)
According to Rabach, “makeup pad removers are great to remove heavy eye makeup because normal cotton balls may shred.” Celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg says she’s “obsessed with The Face Halo [makeup remover pads] because all you need is water! It saves the planet and it works like magic.” These eco-friendly makeup remover pads took the beauty industry by storm, and can be washed up to 200 times to reuse again and again.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Milky Cleanser ($23.99; laroche-posay.us)
Rabach thinks that the best makeup remover for sensitive skin is this La Roche-Posay Toleraine Dermo Milky Cleanser. It’s a cleansing cream formula that works to gently wipe away makeup, dirt and oil without drying out the skin. Because it doesn’t contain fragrance, alcohol, parabens or sulfates, it shouldn’t irritate your skin.
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm ($34; sephora.com)
Another makeup remover method we’ve been loving recently is a good cleansing balm. Rabach recommends using it when removing really thick foundation makeup. The Farmacy Green Clean cleansing balm is an industry-favorite because it literally melts your makeup right off your face as it transforms from a balm to a milky lather.
Royall Elite Compressed Facial Sponges ($9.99; amazon.com)
Using a cleansing balm can get a bit messy though. After you rub the balm onto the skin, you need to rinse the product, makeup and dirt off of your face right? Instead of using a wash cloth or our hands, we love to use these compressed facial sponges to wipe our face clean. Just soak the compressed sponge in water — once it expands you can literally use it as a reusable, disposable facial cleaning sponge. They’re super soft, and lather well with facial cleansers too.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($14.53; amazon.com)
Birnbaum recommends the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, or the previously mentioned Bioderma micellar water, for those with sensitive skin because they “have few ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction or irritation.” She notes that this cleanser is gentle and fragrance-free.
Dermalogica Precleanse Cleansing Oil ($45; sephora.com)
“For those with dry skin, a double cleanse using an oil cleanser or cleansing balm followed by a gentle water-based cleanser can effectively remove debris from the skin without stripping the skin,” says Birnbaum. The Dermalogica Precleanse has long been one of our favorite cleansing oils to remove makeup with ease.
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser ($6.79; target.com)
Rabach agrees that micellar water is s great way to remove most kinds of makeup. She says, “I like that you can control how much you saturate the cotton ball.” This option by Garnier is another top-pick — so much so that it’s one of the expert-approved skin care products you can pick up on your next Target run.
Versed Down To Earth Reusable Cotton Pads ($19.99; versedskin.com)
As Rabach mentioned, you’ll need to saturate a cotton pad or ball with micellar water to slough away your makeup. If you’d prefer an eco-friendly alternative to using a new pad each time, grab the Versed Down To Earth Reusable Cotton Pads. These even come in their own wash bag to make reusing them incredibly simple.
Curél Makeup Cleansing Oil ($20; ulta.com)
Curél’s Makeup Cleansing Oil is another top-rated option to consider. “Cleansing oils have the added benefit of moisturizing the skin,” says Birnbaum. “Of note, it is important for cleansing oils to be applied to dry skin to properly bind to oils on the skin prior to being rinsed off with water.” Once you add water, this should transform into a dreamy milky texture.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel ($8.17; amazon.com)
Remember Birnbaum’s recommendation to follow your cleaning oil or balm with a water-based cleanser. We love the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel to double cleanse with. It’s a lightweight gel formula featuring hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and leave your skin feeling baby smooth.
Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser ($9.74, originally $12.99; amazon.com)
“If I did [my] makeup to last a full day, I like to break the makeup down using the Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser all over the face and eyes — wiping [it] away with a soft tissue or towel,” says Johnson. You literally don’t even need to use water.
Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes ($6.27, originally $9.99; amazon.com)
There’s much debate in the beauty industry if you should use makeup wipes to properly remove your makeup. However, Wu set the record straight when she told us that “wipes are a great option if you don’t have the time or energy to wash your face.” So keep these Neutrogena cleansing towelettes on hand for those lazy nights.
Dr. Elsa Jungman Begin Again Gentle Cleanser ($40; dr-ej.com)
Greenberg recommends this gentle cleanser by Dr. Elsa Jungman. It’s a plant-based non-foaming cleanser that’s formulated to cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural oils.
Honest Makeup Remover Facial Wipes ($6.99; amazon.com)
The Honest Beauty Makeup Remover Facial Wipes are another convenient option to have on hand, as recommended by Greenberg. She says these are “gentle and work really well.”
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm ($38; sokoglam.com)
Once you try the Then I met You Living Cleansing Balm, it’s hard to part ways from it. This K-beauty balm is formulated with antioxidant and fatty acid-rich seaberry oil, as well as persimmon extract, to soften, nourish and brighten your skin.
Juno & Co. Clean 10 Cleansing Balm ($14.95; junoco.com)
Not only does the Juno & Co. Clean 10 Cleansing Balm work to dissolve your makeup away, it’s created to brighten your skin complexion, reduce dark spots and combat signs of aging. The star ingredient is Japanese barley magic — an ingredient that delivers vitamins and antioxidants to the skin that aide in melanin production.
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (starting at $9; glossier.com)
Surely one of our favorite cleansers, the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser is a nourishing creamy, gel face wash that’s formulated to be gentle on skin. Glossier’s skin-first approach is apparent with this product that features five skin conditioners to moisturize your skin while cleansing.
Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser ($5.49; amazon.com)
The Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser is an OG cold cream and star at removing makeup — much like the cleansing balms of today. It’s super affordable, great for dry skin and available at your local drugstore, but be sure to follow our expert advice and follow the cream with a gentle, water-based cleanser to ensure you’re removing all the gunk off your face properly.
Cliganic Premium Cotton Rounds ($7.99, originally $9.99; amazon.com)
There’s never bad time to stock up on cotton rounds. Add this bundle of 300 rounds to your Amazon cart along with the other removers you’re about to try.