Makeup removal is one of those things we often assume — incorrectly — that we know how to do. Get the scoop from our skin care experts on how to take off your makeup right — and treat your skin well while you do it.
Most women wear makeup every day; we’d sooner leave the house naked than without our faces on. But for all the time we spend in front of the mirror in the morning, the evening routine tends to be rushed — or neglected completely. Even if you make a point of washing your face every night, you may not be getting all your makeup off. Here’s how to do it the right way.
Our best makeup removal tips
Go for gentle products.
That long-lasting coverage you love during the day? That’s what you’re up against at night. So start with a gentle, non-drying cleanser to remove your makeup. “A product with mild detergents and no sulfates to cleanse the face is always best and the most gentle on your skin,” says Dr. Bernard Gram, creator of GRAM Skincare.
No matter what cleanser you use, start by thoroughly wetting your face with lukewarm water. “Never wash your face with hot water, because it strips the skin and can cause irritation, which can actually exacerbate problems like acne,” says Sasha Prince, a skin care specialist and aesthetician at New U Plastic Surgery in Austin, Texas. She recommends applying cleanser with the tips of your fingers and massaging gently in a circular motion.
- For oily skin: Murad Clarifying Cleanser ($26) to deep clean and diminish existing blemishes.
- For dry skin: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Milk ($26) to leave skin soft and smooth.
- For sensitive skin: Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser ($33) to gently cleanse while calming skin.
Go easy on the eyes.
To remove eye makeup, start by applying your eye makeup remover to a cotton round or tissue. Product pick: Try Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover ($6), a gentle effective and affordable option. Gently swipe the cotton across the upper eyelid and brow starting from the inner corner of the eye and moving toward the outer corner. “Make sure to use gentle movements, because the tissue around your eyes is the most fragile,” says Emily McConnell, spa director of the spa at dana in Chicago. “Take two fingers to support the skin on your upper brow bone and gently swipe downward with the cotton to remove makeup from your lower eyelid and lashes,” she says, and adds that you should finish by removing any makeup that may still be under your eye by gently moving the cotton from the corner of your inner eye out toward the outer corner.
Go for a beautiful finish.
Ready to rinse? “Use lukewarm water, rather than a cloth or towel, to completely rinse all of the remaining cleanser from your face,” says Prince. “Using a rough cloth is too abrasive a method to be used when plain water will do the job.”
Follow up with a clarifying toner. “No cleanser will completely remove all makeup, so adding a non-drying toner will ensure you keep the pores clean and clear of grime, decreasing your chances of blemishes,” says Gram. Product pick: Try Bobbi Brown Hydrating face Tonic ($26), which conditions and balances skin.
Take the time to remove your makeup properly each day to ensure that your skin always looks radiant and healthy.