How to Remove Your Makeup

Pro Tips From the Beauty Experts

How to properly remove your makeup
How to properly remove your makeup. Photodisc / Getty Images

To properly remove makeup, all you need is a proper cleanser for the face and eye-makeup remover. These are my favorite makeup removal tips that I've learned over the years. 

The Mistakes Most Women Make

The biggest mistake women make when removing makeup, is that we are too stingy with our makeup removal products. We should be soaking cotton pads with eye makeup remover and using generous dollops of cleanser on our faces. The goal is to loosen up all that product we've previously smothered on our faces, and to do that properly, we need to be generous.

Another mistake we make is rubbing the eye area to remove makeup. This is a huge no-no. We should be patting, never rubbing, around the delicate eye area.

And finally, we tend to forget to wash into our hairline and under our jawline, which is very important when we wear foundation. 

How to Remove Eye Makeup

The best way to remove eye makeup — even waterproof mascara — is to soak soft cotton pads or balls in eye makeup remover and let them sit on your eyes for a few seconds. This loosens your makeup without scrubbing. Those fine lines will develop eventually, let's not hurry them along, right?

My hands-down favorite eye makeup remover is made by Clinique, but Neutrogena is a drugstore brand that works well in a pinch. Makeup artist and YouTuber Lisa Eldridge recommends Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution for makeup removal because she doesn't like how oily removers tend to be. 

Here's Eldridge's genius method for makeup removal, which I have adopted (it works). Get the full scoop in her YouTube video:

  • Take a round cotton makeup pad and cut it in two. I use scissors for this. Eldridge just pulls them apart with her fingers. 
  • Soak each one in remover and place under your bottom lashes. This will collect the makeup from your upper lashes while also removing makeup from your lower lashes. 
  • Take another cotton makeup pad, soak it in makeup remover and place over your closed eye. 
  • Gently press down, allowing the solution to soak in for a few seconds. The longer, the better. 
  • Slowly and gently sweep the pad over the lashes and lids to remove the makeup. Never rub.

You can go back over with another pad to ensure all makeup is removed, otherwise you run the risk of leaving black marks on your towels or pillowcases. 

How to Remove Bright Lipstick

If you are into bright lip colors, remove your lip color before cleansing your face, otherwise you risk smearing lipstick over your newly-cleansed face.

Eldridge uses the micellar water (see above) for removing bright lipstick. She uses a large soft cotton pad soaked in it and slowly wipes off her lipstick with it. It gets "the worst of it" off, Eldridge says in her video. 

You can use eye makeup remover on your lips as well.

How to Remove Makeup on Your Face

If you have dry skin, try a cream or oil cleanser. For oily or combination skin, use a cleanser formulated for your skin type. 

Cleansing should be a two-step process: go over the face once to remove makeup and a second time to remove any traces of makeup and dirt. 

Here's how to do it:

  • Massage a fair bit of the cleanser all over the face and neck. I like to use circular motions to ensure I'm getting all of the makeup off. And it just feels really good. 
  • Remove cleanser with a super-soft washcloth (​bamboo baby washcloths) or muslin cloth.
  • Repeat the above. 
  • Rinse with a splash of warm water. 
  • Dip a cotton swab into makeup remover and go over your lashes one last time.

Must I Wash My Face Before I Go to Bed?

Yes—especially if you have makeup on your face. If you want to wake up with dewy, glowing skin, then you must remove the day's makeup and sunscreen.

Find out more in How to Wash Your Face Properly.

Should I Wash My Face Again in the Morning?

Your face doesn't get dirty from sleeping on a clean pillowcase, so there's really no need to wash again in the morning. In fact, too much cleansing can dry out skin. If you wake up with an oily sheen, however, splash a bit of warm water on your face to dissolve the oils. You can also press a warm washcloth to your face.

Do I Need Toner?

Many women use toner because they feel it removes all traces of dirt, oil, and makeup; however, most beauty experts agree that toners are unnecessary (see "Is Toner Necessary?").

Most cleansers these days do a great job of removing all the muck from even the heaviest of your makeup days. While toner will strip your skin of any makeup, it also removes natural oils, which can be drying. Unless you have super oily skin or just happen to love a particular product, you can skip the toner.

Can I Use Baby Wipes to Remove Makeup?

"No, no, no," says beauty expert Laura Mercier in Allure Magazine. "I cringe when I see women using baby wipes to remove their makeup. Those do not get the job done."

Women think baby wipes are formulated to be gentle on baby's skin, therefore it will be gentle on facial skin, Mercier says. Her response to women who think baby wipes are gentle? "Well, a baby's butt isn't covered in makeup that requires special ingredients for proper removal."

'Nuff said.

I Have Super Dry Skin, How Do I Remove Makeup Without Drying It Out More?

Choose your cleanser based on your skin type. If you have super dry skin, consider a cleansing oil. Mercier suggests applying oil on a cotton pad and then swiping it across lids, lips, face and brows. Massaging in the oil loosens dirt and makeup. Wash skin with a foaming or gel cleanser, and wash off the cleanser with a warm washcloth, which works to exfoliate skin. Follow with a moisturizer applied to still damp skin.

Help! I Have Acne

If you have acne, your best bet is to wash face with a salicylic cleanser. If you have oily skin, consider a foaming cleanser. I have done a lot of research on acne and how to fight it and share all of my secrets in the following articles:

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