How to Safely Remove Eye Makeup

Gently remove eye makeup with a cotton pad or soft cloth or tissue.
Make sure you remove eye makeup at night and use a cotton pad. RunPhoto/Taxi Japan/Getty Images

Many of us know that we should remove eye makeup at night before we go to sleep. Leaving makeup on overnight can lead to eye irritation and puffiness, and possibly even eye infections. But it is especially important that you remove eye makeup properly and with the safest method for your eye health.

Don't Block the Tears

You want to make sure that the tear ducts, as well as the meibomian glands, are not blocked.

The meibomian glands that line the eyelids contribute to the production of oils for tear film. Tear film helps keep tears from evaporating too quickly, which could lead to dry eye syndrome and other problems. Tears keep the eyes clean and healthy and contain enzymes that destroy certain bacteria that can harm the eyes.

Pick the Right Eye Makeup Remover

Some eye doctors warn against wearing waterproof eye makeup because it is so difficult to remove. If you wear contact lenses, however, some suggest using waterproof eyeliner and mascara to avoid having product that flakes into the eyes or that smudges and can damage contact lenses. If wearing waterproof makeup, use a waterproof eye makeup remover designed to prevent the need to vigorously scrub the eye area.

For lighter makeup, you can use a regular eye makeup remover or a gentle facial cleanser. However, using a good eye makeup remover is recommended because they are formulated for use on the delicate area of the eyes and to dissolve makeup to avoid excessive tugging of the skin during removal.

If you wear contact lenses, make sure that you use a product that is labeled "safe for contact lens wearers". Also avoid any products with fragrance or alcohol, which can also be irritating and drying to the eyes and eye area.

Natural Eye Makeup Removers

If you would rather skip the commercial eye makeup removers, which can sometimes be expensive, you can use an oil like vitamin E oil, olive oil or almond oil, which are moisturizing to the lashes and lids.

Whether you use a store bought eye makeup remover or natural oil, be sure to keep your eyes closed and gently wipe off the makeup.

Should You Use Baby Oil?

Though some people like to use baby oil or Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to remove eye makeup, but this is not recommended. These products, if not adequately removed, will leave film that can trap oil, dirt and bacteria. Also note that if you are not careful, the oils can seep into the eyes and lead to eye irritation and puffiness.

Whatever you use, make sure that the remover is held over the eyes for a few seconds to allow it to dissolve the makeup. Also, follow these tips:

  • Don’t use cheap cotton balls. The fibers can get into the eyes. Use a sturdier cotton pad or tissue or a soft cloth.
  • Don't drag the tissue or cotton pad along the eyes. The skin in the eye area is very thin and pulling and tugging of the skin can lead to wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Wipe the eyelid with gentle downward movements and across the lash line, then gently sweep upward along the front of the top eyelashes.
  • If necessary, wipe the eyelids and lashes a second time to ensure the removal of all of the product.
  • After removing the eye makeup, use a gentle, hypoallergenic, oil-free and fragrance-free cleanser.
  • Do not use a cream cleanser.
  • Gently massage the cleanser on your eyelids with your fingertips. Rinse off.
  • Finish with a good eye cream.