What are the best eye-makeup removers? We’re really glad you asked. Though it’s true that your ordinary cleanser can likely do an okay job at lifting away eye shadow, when it comes to the trickier task of melting away waterproof mascara and eyeliner, most tend to fall short. (Especially given that the eye area is one of the most sensitive and easily irritated areas on the face, therefore needing a little extra care.)
A good eye-makeup remover will have been specially formulated and put through a different series of tests, separately from your everyday cleanser. All of that ensures that it can quickly and gently lift away even the most stubborn of waterproof gel liners without causing any irritation to the delicate skin or upsetting the balance within your eye. After all, irritation triggers rubbing, and we all know the aging effects of tugging and pulling on the skin; hello, fine lines and premature crow’s feet!
So now that we’re all on the same page regarding the need for a good eye makeup remover, what about the best ones out there?
Though not strictly an eye-specific remover, makeup artists from Wendy Rowe (Burberry’s go-to pro) to fashion week veteran Val Garland to makeup mogul Pat McGrath all love the gentle power of Bioderma micelle solution. “I like to use Bioderma for eye-makeup removal because I find it takes waterproof mascara off and fake lashes, and I don’t really like very oily removers,” adds MUA extraordinaire Lisa Eldridge.
Eldridge also uses a special technique to minimise any rubbing and tugging of the skin. Ready to transform your routine? Here’s how she does it: Soak two cotton pads in your Bioderma; then press one below the bottom lashes, close your eye and press the other over your top lashes. Let them soak for a few minutes before gently easing off your makeup. Watch Lisa Eldridge’s tutorial video for more makeup-removal tips.
Sensitive skin? Like to steer clear of oily skincare? Try celebrity makeup artist Louise Constad’s favourite, which comes with added A-lister rating. “It’s non-greasy, so it feels fresh as water,” Constad once said to InStyle UK of the Lancome Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover. “Juliette Binoche introduced me to it years ago and now it’s a staple in my kit.”
When it comes to brilliantly bold shades that look awesome under the club lights but not so good the next morning when you’ve failed to get it all off, oil-based removers are the answer, says MUA Nick Barose, whose clients include Brie Larson, Amy Poehler, and Lupita Nyong’o.
Revealing his top tips to InStyle.com, Barose revealed that if his favorite all-purpose makeup remover isn’t quite up to the task, he doubles up with DHC Olive Virgin Oil Swabs ($8) and the two-layer DHC Eye & Lip Makeup Remover ($13).
If you prefer the natural approach, try a remover that takes its base from plant or nut oils—they’ll be just as effective at breaking down mascara and liner, as well as lifting away everything from glitter to shadow.
Makeup artist and green beauty lover Katey Denno rates Dr. Alkaitis Mascara and Eye Makeup Remover ($45). “It's basically just almond oil, which is fantastic for removing even the most stubborn waterproof makeup,” she tells Makeup.com.
Gel formulas are great for removing eyeliners that can be tricky to budge, as they’re less likely to run and give you more control over where you’re putting them—hello, tight-liner fans.
Make Up For Ever’s Sense’Eyes gel remover has gotten the nod from MUAs including Kathy Jeung, currently Rita Ora’s go-to guru, and Samuel Paul, who tells TheGloss.com, “It removes eye makeup quickly without the slightest eye tingle or burn.”
"These wipes are so aromatic and effective that you will look forward to taking off your makeup," celebrity makeup artist Edward Cruz, who boasts a roster of clients from Frankie Grande to Anna Wintour, told Total Beauty. "I love using these on clients because they remove makeup with one wipe—waterproof makeup formulas included—and they are accessible even at 4 a.m. when everything is closed except the drugstores."
According to InStyle, this Chanel makeup remover is Emmy-winning MUA Andrew Sotomayor's go-to for tough products. "I love this product because it removes even long wearing lipsticks and waterproof mascara without a greasy residue," he told them in a 2017 article. "Saturate a cotton pad, hold it over your eye for five seconds and wipe the makeup away. Gently press [wipe] downwards with your eye closed, then outwards, then upwards."
While plenty of the aforementioned products are safe for skin, perhaps none are as natural as this cleansing balm, which is a favorite of celebrity MUA Katie Jane Hughes. She told Reader's Digest that it "can get off more makeup than most people wear in a lifetime," which is a high compliment. "Think: Broadway makeup," she continued on, "but it does it with incredible ease, and leaves your skin soft and supple."
In the same article, Katie Danza extolled the virtues of Tatcha's Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($48), saying she "truly couldn’t live without it." She loves the way it cleanses and soothes the skin, but there's one big and important upside: "So many cleansing oils can make your eyes foggy—this one won’t," she explains. "It’s magic!"
Yes, it does admittedly look kind of like one of those child-size water bottles moms hand out at soccer games. No, that doesn't mean Koh Gen Do's version of a micellar water is ineffective (or drinkable). This product is a favorite of many major MUA's, including Kardashian-beloved Mario Dedivanovic. "For stubborn makeup, like eyeliner, I use a cotton swab dipped in a bit of it," he told Vogue. "To remove less stubborn makeup, like foundation or concealer, I use the brand’s cleansing water cloths."
Opening Image: Imaxtree