Best Face Makeup Removers

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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.Read more 
How we decided

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

44 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
51 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Buying guide for best face makeup removers

Last Updated November 2019

Taking off your makeup at the end of a long day is super important. Removing foundation, lipstick, concealer, and eye shadow prevents skin irritation and clogged pores. A typical face cleanser isn’t always enough to remove all the impurities from your skin. You also want to avoid scrubbing skin with an abrasive cloth. And even if all you wear is mascara, you still need to get rid of it before you head off to your beauty rest. Face makeup remover can help you gently wipe off makeup and leave your skin feeling soft and clean.

Face makeup removers are designed to take off all types of makeup, even waterproof formulas. A quality product should be gentle on the skin and leave your face feeling fresh, not completely dried out.

This guide will help you find the right face makeup remover for your needs, including a few of our top recommendations to make your shopping even easier.

Gently wipe away makeup using your favorite makeup remover product. Don’t rub or scrub your skin.

Key considerations

The skin on your face is delicate, so you want to choose the right product that will remove all traces of makeup while leaving your skin looking and feeling healthy. Here’s what to consider before browsing the myriad products out there.

The hazards of not removing makeup

It happens. A late night out, an exhausting, jam-packed day, an accidental nap that turns into a long slumber. Who hasn’t gone to sleep with makeup on? It’s important not to turn it into a habit, however. Sleeping with makeup on your face is a terrible idea for the following reasons:

  • It can clog your pores.

  • It can leave your skin more prone to breakouts

  • It can irritate the skin.

  • It can foster bacterial growth.

  • It can leave bacteria and makeup on your pillowcase.

  • It can irritate your eyes and even cause an infection.

  • It can leave you looking blotchy and unrested in the morning.

  • It can make your lips dry and cracked if you leave lipstick on.

  • You’ll wake up with racoon eyes – need we say more?

Natural luxe cleansing

Combine makeup removal and cleansing in one time-saving step by using Lancôme’s Miel-en Mousse Foaming Cleansing Makeup Remover. This facial cleanser features natural ingredients that effectively melt away product, so there’s no need to scrub your skin.

Types of face makeup remover

Here are the different formulas of face makeup remover you might encounter. We’ve outlined the pros and cons to help you pick the right kind for your face.

Cream

  • Thick

  • Excellent at removing makeup

  • Moisturizing

  • Drawback: Not everyone likes the thick consistency.
     

Milk formula

  • Hydrating

  • Perfect for sensitive skin

  • Gentle

  • Drawback: It can be messy to apply and needs to be rinsed off thoroughly.
     

Oil

  • Quickly dissolves makeup

  • Best for removing waterproof eye makeup

  • Moisturizing

  • Drawback: Not everyone likes the greasy feel.
     

Micellar water

  • Gentle

  • Often doubles as face wash

  • No residue

  • No rinsing

  • Hydrating

  • Suitable for all skin types

  • Drawback: It can be pricier than other formulas.
     

Wipes

  • Best for on-the-go use and travel

  • Super convenient

  • Drawback: May leave a residue; rinsing is still required.
EXPERT TIP

Cotton balls aren’t ideal for removing eye makeup. They’re much more wasteful than pads or cloths because they absorb so much product at once.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

After removing lipstick, use a balm or other lip protection product to prevent the sensitive skin from drying out.


Staff  | BestReviews

Skin type

Most products say on the packaging which skin type they’re intended for. If you have problem skin, you might need to experiment with different products to find the one that doesn’t dehydrate or irritate your skin too much.

Face makeup remover features

Multi-action: Two-in-one formulas that work as a makeup remover and cleanser are perfect for the low-maintenance person who isn't willing to spend money on two separate products. For extra convenience, choose a triple-action product that acts as a toner in addition to cleaning skin and dissolving makeup.

Scented or unscented: The choice is up to you. If you’re sensitive to strong smells, there are plenty of fragrance-free formulas available. If you’re purchasing a makeup remover for on-the-go use, such as camping or traveling, pick a scent you can at least tolerate because you may not always have the chance to rinse the product off your face.

Special ingredients: Certain products feature natural ingredients like aloe or honey to help condition and moisturize the skin. Others include amino acids, which improve the appearance and consistency of the skin. For anti-aging benefits, choose a product with antioxidants.

Quantity: A little bit of face makeup remover goes a long way, so you can splurge a bit on this kind of product. Even a small bottle of premium makeup remover should last a good while.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Choose a hypoallergenic formula if you’re prone to breakouts or have sensitive skin.

Face makeup remover prices

Budget-friendly

For less than $10, you’ll find drugstore brands of all kinds.

Mid-range

For $10 to $20, you’ll find dual-action formulas that cleanse skin and remove makeup. Some products at this price point also include additional ingredients that target the signs of aging.

Expensive

Premium face makeup removers that cost more than $20 are typically name-brand formulas with additional active ingredients that provide anti-aging benefits and help improve the skin’s appearance.

Eases away waterproof makeup

If you wear waterproof mascara or a lot of makeup that just won’t come off easily, try the Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover. This formula won’t leave a heavy residue, and once applied it acts quickly to dissolve makeup, so a simple wipe is all that’s required to take it off. Gentle on sensitive skin, too.

Tips

  • Don’t scrub your skin. Taking off makeup shouldn’t require rough scrubbing. The right makeup remover should do the trick without harming your skin’s surface.

  • Tackle eye makeup separately. Mascara – especially waterproof – is tough to remove. Your first pass might not take it all off completely. Be gentle when removing eye makeup because the delicate skin in the eye area can easily become irritated.

  • Consider that you may need two products. If you’re having trouble removing makeup without scrubbing, you might prefer to purchase a makeup remover specifically designed for eye makeup.

  • Avoid using cotton balls around your eyes. The tiny fibers can end up stuck in your eye. Use a high-quality cloth or cotton pad instead.

  • Give the product time to work. Allow your makeup remover to dissolve the makeup. Let it soak for a few seconds before attempting to wipe it off your skin.

  • Avoid using bathroom wipes on your face. These cloths are not gentle enough on the skin and may leave it dry and irritated.

  • Remember proper skin care after removing your makeup. Rinse off makeup remover to prevent leaving any residue. After taking off your makeup, it’s time to apply any other face products for your face, such as serums, moisturizers, or masks.

Other products we considered

We want to highlight a few face makeup removers that didn’t make it into our top picks but are perfectly acceptable alternatives for removing all traces of makeup from your skin. First up, the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water works as a cleanser and makeup remover in one, and we love that it’s gentle on the skin. The Neutrogena Naturals Fresh Face Wash is also a two-in-one formula, and it includes natural ingredients that brighten and moisturize the skin. From a brand that’s well known to those with sensitive skin, the Cetaphil Gentle Waterproof Makeup Remover gets stubborn product off your face. We particularly like the fact that it’s tested by medical professionals. The ultra-convenient Aveeno Makeup Removing Wipes are oil-free and contain calming ingredients that help reduce the appearance of skin redness.

Carry a pack of makeup remover wipes in your purse, so you can always remove product at the end of the day.

FAQ

Q. Should I wash my face before or after using a makeup remover?

A. Unless you’re using a two-in-one formula that cleanses skin and removes makeup, it’s best to remove product before using a facial cleanser. Doing so rids the skin of all impurities. A cleanser also gets rid of any residue left behind by your makeup remover.

Q. Can I use Vaseline as a makeup remover?

A. Some folks swear by Vaseline for removing eye makeup. While it’s somewhat effective, it’s really greasy and leaves a thick, unpleasant residue that’s tough to rinse off. It’s also definitely not a good option for removing makeup on the rest of your face because it’s likely to clog your pores.

Q. I don’t want to buy one product for my face and one for my eyes. What’s the best option?

A. Choose an oil-based remover. Oil-based formulas are tough enough to tackle all makeup products and remove them from your face with ease. Worried about using oil on acne-prone skin? Contrary to popular belief, many oil-based formulas are non-comedogenic and won’t cause breakouts. They will, however, leave your skin hydrated and makeup-free.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Writer

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