The Best Way to Remove Make-up, According to Dermatologists

The Best Way to Remove Make-up, According to Dermatologists

When it comes to removing makeup, less isn’t always more. You may need more than one product to safely and effectively remove your makeup. The best routine for you will depend on the type and quantity of makeup you use as well as your skin type. Here are our dermatologists’ recommendations on the best ways to remove makeup while taking care of your skin.

It’s important to remove all your makeup every night

Going to bed with makeup still on your face can lead to clogged pores, skin aging, breakdown of the skin barrier, inflammation, and flare-ups of underlying skin conditions like acne or rosacea. The best way to remove makeup will depend on your skin type, the types of makeup products you use, and how much of them you use.

If you tend to use makeup lightly—for example powder-based products without a lot of waterproof mascara or sunscreen, a cleanser may be enough. If you use waterproof makeup products with sunscreen, it may take more than a typical water-based cleanser to fully remove them. Let’s take a look at some of those options.

Micellar Water

Micellar water has made a resurgence as a popular product for makeup removal. It looks like water, but is actually made of micelles (tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules) suspended in soft water. When you apply it to your face, you’ll feel it has a different viscosity than water. The micelles attract dirt, oil, and impurities, and draw them out so they can be washed away.

Dermatologists and makeup wearers alike prefer micellar water because it is appropriate for most skin types and won’t dry out skin or cause irritation. It doesn’t contain alcohol like most toners, so it won’t ever sting. And even if it gets in your eyes, it shouldn’t cause a lot of irritation. Use your fingers in gentle circular motions over your face to remove foundation and sunscreen. When using it to remove eye makeup, soak a cotton ball or pad and apply it softly to the eyelids for a few seconds, then gently wipe.

Double Cleansing

People who use heavier, waterproof makeup, a lot of sunscreen, or who have oily skin may find that micellar water alone isn’t enough to truly clean their skin. If this sounds like you, you might benefit from double cleansing, where you wash your face first with an oil-based product and then follow that up with a water-based cleanser. Your initial product can be a cleansing balm or oil. Balms are products that are solid at room temperature, but melt when applied to your warmer skin. They are made of plant-based oils and products like petrolatum and are very effective at dissolving waterproof makeup. They’re safe to use on your eyes and shouldn’t cause significant irritation. Cleansing oils are oil and water emulsions. They turn into a milky white liquid when applied and rinse away.

These products are good options for dry skin, sensitive skin, and even for people with eczema. The problem with these oil-based products is they can leave behind a greasy residue, which is why you may want to follow up with a gentle, water-based cleanser afterward. If you have an underlying skin condition like acne or rosacea, you’ll want to use a product specially formulated for that condition. Always talk to your dermatologist!

A Word About Makeup Wipes

Some people swear by makeup wipes, but they aren’t the top choice of our dermatologists. The chemicals in makeup wipes combined with the scrubbing needed in order to get them to fully remove some types of makeup can abrade the skin and cause irritation, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. When it comes to removing products like waterproof mascara, the skin around the eyes is very sensitive and prone to signs of aging. A cotton pad soaked in micellar water or an oil-based cleanser, gently applied, will do a better job of breaking down makeup without causing damage.

Makeup Removing Dos and Don’ts

Our dermatologists have a few more words of makeup removal wisdom to share:

  • Don’t use a washcloth when cleansing your face. Cloths are abrasive. Let your fingers do the work!
  • Toners can be a good choice if you use very heavy makeup or have oily skin. Apply the toner before you cleanse.
  • Watch out for fragrances in your products. These can irritate skin and cause outbreaks.
  • When you are finished, pat your skin dry with a clean towel or washcloth.
  • Your skin shouldn’t feel tight and dry when you are done cleansing. If it does, you are using products that are too harsh and are stripping your skin of its natural barrier.
  • Don’t forget to apply your night-time moisturizing products for skin health and anti-aging benefits! If you’re not sure what you need, we can recommend physician-strength products that will meet your skin care needs.