Best Eye Makeup Removers

Updated March 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best eye makeup removers

Last Updated March 2019

Cosmetic companies have formulated amazing long-wear eye makeup and waterproof mascara that stays put throughout your active day. When it’s time to wind down, however, these budge-proof products are notoriously difficult to take off. You don’t want to rub your eyelids raw or your eyelashes (or precious extensions!) off in the process. Fortunately, there are eye makeup removers that get the job done without the collateral damage.

Eyelid skin is super delicate, and our eyes are sensitive, so finding an eye makeup remover that is gentle and safe is a must. There are plenty of eye makeup removers on the market that are carefully formulated to remove tough makeup without stinging or irritating the eyes. Which ones have been tested by ophthalmologists? What’s best for waterproof mascara?

We’ll help you sort through your concerns and inform you of what to keep an eye out for (wink wink) when choosing a product.

Saturate a cotton pad or cotton ball with eye makeup remover cleansers and oils. Then, gently wipe the eye area to remove makeup.

Eye makeup remover types

Cleansers are the most common type of eye makeup remover. These typically come in three- to six-ounce bottles and are used with a cotton pad or ball to swab the eye area. Some cleansers leave a residue behind, which can be rinsed off with water.

Lotions designed to remove eye makeup are creamier than cleansers and tend to be moisturizing. Many of them are oil-free.

Oil removers solubilize water-resistant makeup, breaking it down without tons of rubbing. They also work to moisturize the eye area. Oil cleansers tend to leave behind a greasy residue, which can be removed with a clean cotton swab.

Micellar water is gaining popularity as a gentle, alcohol-free makeup remover. “Micelles” are tiny cleansing-oil molecules that attract dirt without stripping the skin of moisture. Safe to use on the eye area, micellar water is generally marketed as an all-over face cleanser and makeup remover.

Scrubs are recommended by dermatologists for people with eyelid conditions. Did you know eyelash dandruff is a thing? Lid scrubs remove any lingering particles of makeup and also help with crustiness or flakiness due to medical conditions.

Pads eliminate the need for a separate cotton pad or ball to remove makeup. They come pre-soaked in remover solution and are a convenient way to swipe away makeup at the end of a long day. Eye makeup remover pads come in 30- to 120-count containers.

All-in-one makeup removers work not just on the eye area but on other areas too, like the lip or whole face. They come in different forms: liquid, disposable wipes/towelettes, and makeup remover cloths.

Classic and gentle

This traditional cleanser has rightly earned a loyal following over the decades. Its non-irritating and non-oily formula works to remove all traces of eye makeup. It’s 100% sting-free and approved by ophthalmologists for sensitive eyeballs.

Features

With all the makeup removers on the market, you can afford to be choosy and find one with features that suit your individual needs.

Gentle/sensitive

If you have sensitive or irritation-prone skin, there are plenty of eye makeup removers that are formulated to be extra gentle. Look for ones that are free from parabens, fragrance, alcohol, and preservatives — all of which are potential skin irritants.

Oil-free

Most cleanser eye makeup removers are formulated as oil-free. They dissolve quickly and leave less residue than removers containing oil. They are also safer for contact lens wearers.

Longwear and waterproof makeup

Though a high-quality eye makeup remover should do the trick on stubborn waterproof and longwear makeup, some are specifically targeted for it.

Botanical extracts

Some eye makeup removers come with plant-derived extracts to soothe or hydrate the skin, like cornflower, cucumber, or chamomile. Though they may carry a scent, they often are labeled fragrance free and tend to be more natural and less irritating than chemical-based cleansers.

EXPERT TIP

Some beauty experts insist that oil-based eye makeup removers work best on waterproof mascara.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Don’t use regular facial cleanser or toners to remove makeup on your delicate eye area. These products can sting or damage the eyes. Eye makeup removers are formulated to be gentle and safe.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Don’t scrub or tug too hard at your delicate eye area when removing eye makeup. Dermatologists tell us this can create fine lines and wrinkles over time.


Staff  | BestReviews

Eye makeup remover prices

Makeup can be expensive, but the removal process doesn’t have to be — though eye makeup removers certainly can get up there in price.

For drugstore brands of cleansers or pads, you can expect to pay as little as $4 and up to $12.

Micellar water, which comes in larger quantities than cleansers (typically about 13 ounces), can be purchased from $10 to $20 a bottle. Scrubs also fall into this mid-price range.

Eye makeup remover oils and solutions from major cosmetic lines are priced between $20 and $30.

Products using natural, botanical ingredients range widely, from as low as $6 to as high as $30.

Floral and hypoallergenic

This eye makeup remover lotion is formulated to have a pH balance close to human tears so as to be gentle and non-irritating to the eyes. It’s also free of parabens, silicone, and sulfates. The cornflower extract works to sooth, soften, and decongest the delicate eye area.

Tips

  • Coconut oil is a popular natural solution for removing eye makeup. Just be sure not to get it in your eyes.

  • Shake eye makeup removers labeled “dual action,” “dual phase,” or “double action” before use. These are typically a hybrid of water and oil removers.

  • Remove your eye makeup before washing your face to prevent your mascara, eyeliner, or other products from running into your eyes. Washing your face afterward will also eliminate any lingering residue from the remover.

  • If you have skin too sensitive for products, consider an eye makeup remover cloth which only requires water to work. Dampen the washcloth-like cloth and “erase” eye makeup with friction alone.

  • Always keep your eyes closed when removing makeup using an eye makeup remover.

Others products we considered

Green beauty is a popular alternative to big brand beauty products. If you’re looking to reduce the toxin load of your cosmetics, don’t forget to include your makeup removers in the “clean” sweep. We love how inexpensive and accessible Alba Botanica Even Advanced Eye Makeup Remover is. For just a handful of dollars, you can wipe away your eye makeup without worrying about harsh chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. The marine- and algae-based product nourishes lashes without a greasy aftereffect. This popular eco-friendly brand doesn’t test on animals, either.

For a top-of-the-line eye makeup remover jam-packed with botanical extracts, look no further than Éminence Herbal Eye Makeup Remover. Its user-friendly pump makes soaking your cotton pad a one-step process. Don’t be dissuaded by its long list of gentle herbal ingredients; this makeup remover works on waterproof mascara.

Eye makeup remover works on eyebrow pencil and mascara, too. Use your eye makeup remover all the way up to your eyebrows.

FAQ

Q. I wear contact lenses. Is it safe for me to use an eye makeup remover?

A. Yes. Certain eye makeup removers are labeled safe for use with contact lenses. Look for ones that are ophthalmologist approved. It’s best to remove contact lenses before wiping away makeup, even with a gentle remover, to minimize the chance of contaminating or damaging the lenses. Avoid oil-based cleansers and oil eye makeup removers altogether.

Q. How important is it to remove eye makeup before going to bed? Sometimes I’m just too darned tired.

A. We hear you! You’ve had a long day, and the process of taking off your day face — or date face — can be, well, a process. However, there is a risk of eye infection and ingrown eyelashes if you don’t properly remove all traces of mascara and eyeliner from your lids. Consider all-in-one makeup remover disposable wipes that are safe for both face and eye use. With a few swipes, you can remove everything from eyes to lips and then rest assured that you’ve taken care of your skin and health.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ana
    Ana
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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