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Yes, if you want to get down to brass tacks, you could totally use your standard face wash to take off your eye makeup. But, more likely than not, that would require some serious elbow grease. We’re talking intense rubbing and scrubbing, which is never good for your skin, but especially not when we’re talking about the ultra-delicate skin around your eyes. (The thinnest on the body, it’s particularly prone to damage and irritation, not to mention that excessive tugging can lead to sagging and wrinkles over time. No, thank you.)
That’s why having a dedicated eye makeup remover in your arsenal is so essential. Not only are they specially formulated to completely and totally remove even the most stubborn, waterproof liner, shadow, and mascara, they’re also infused with plenty of good-for-your-skin ingredients to leave this sensitive area feeling even softer and smoother than when you started. No matter whether you prefer balms or oils, wipes or pads, this list of standout eye makeup removers offers a little something for everyone.
Read on for the best eye makeup removers available for purchase.
While not technically made solely for use around the eyes, this cult-classic formula works just as well taking off stubborn mascara as it does long-lasting lip color. Once available only in Europe, it’s now a stateside mainstay for consumers and pros alike; you’d be hard-pressed to find a makeup artist who doesn’t have this in their kit. A micellar water, the micelles act like tiny magnets, attaching to and whisking away makeup and dirt. It’s ultra-gentle, even on sensitive skin, and leaves behind no scent or residue.
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 this 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.
For those looking for a formula that will not only take off eye makeup but work as a cleanser too, this drugstore pick can’t be beaten. Another micellar water, it works just as well taking off mascara as it does removing general gunk and grime from the rest of your complexion. It’s oil-, alcohol-, and fragrance-free, and requires no rinsing; simply apply some onto a cotton pad and wipe across the skin.
This is made up of a cleansing oil infused with nourishing vitamin B5 and purified water infused with hydrating vitamin E, making it actually good for your lashes, keeping them soft and conditioned. It takes off even waterproof formulas, no rubbing required.
Dermatologist- and ophthalmologist tested, even contact lens-wearers or those with super sensitive eyes will be able to tolerate this sting-free cleanser. The gel texture is also easy to control and good for targeted removal (i.e. if you just want to clean up a stray eyeliner smudge or two), and it’s also infused with honey to make it extra moisturizing.
To take off the really, really stubborn stuff, this classic is top-notch. It’s made up of an oil phase, which lifts off eye makeup, and a water phase, which whisks it all away. (Top tip: Give it a good shake to ensure it’s fully mixed before using.) Plus, it comes in three different sizes, including a TSA-approved one that’s perfect for travel.
Pre-soaked pads make makeup removal easier than ever, particularly when it’s these, which have a unique shape that makes it easy to reach even the corners of your eyes. The moisturizing, 99.5% natural formula soothes and hydrates skin, while the resealable jar ensures the pads won’t dry out in between uses.
As anyone sporting lash extensions will tell you, they require you to pay a little closer attention to your eye makeup removing M.O. More specifically, it’s essential to use oil-free cleansers in order to avoid dissolving the adhesive that keeps your extensions on. That’s why this pick (which also happens to be very affordable) is choice. It will take only your makeup, not your lashes, off, and since it’s oil-free, you never have to worry about a greasy, leftover residue.
For frequent flyers or those constantly on-the-go, these individually-packaged wipes can’t be beaten. Pre-soaked with good-for-your-skin coconut oil, they take off every last bit of makeup. Also nice: They’re soothing and cooling as well, and because coconut oil has antibacterial properties, they can pull double duty to calm irritation and rashes.
A pricey pick, yes, but well worth it, given how luxurious this makes the makeup removing experience. A rich cleansing balm, it quickly transforms into a milky oil when mixed with water, wiping away all traces of makeup (and gently exfoliating with enzymes, too, making it good to use all over your face). The scent—a blend of lemon, peppercorn, and just a touch of cocoa—also adds to the spa-like feel. To use, massage a small amount onto dry skin, then add water to emulsify and continue massaging. It rinses off cleanly with just water, no extra washcloth needed, and leaves behind no residue.
The bottle may be tiny, but a little bit of this micellar water meets weightless oil goes a long way. A companion to the brand’s best-selling Milky Jelly Cleanser, it has skin-soothing allantoin and works especially well taking off regular makeup. The tiny squirt-top bottle is also specially designed for mess-free application, always a win in our book.
For those looking to minimize their impact on their environment, this sustainable option is choice. The circular pads are made with unique fibers that are 100 times finer than human hair; simply add water and they instantly remove and trap every last trace of makeup. Plus, because they’re white, you can see everything coming off which is just oh-so-satisfying. And per the sustainable point, each one can be washed and reused 200 times, taking the place of about 500 disposable face wipes.
For those who prefer a cleaner, greener approach, this formula—a makeup artist favorite—uses straight-up organic almond oil. It may not sound like much, but it gets the job done, taking off even iron-clad makeup and glitter formulas. For the best results, dampen a cotton pad with water, then add a few squirts of this onto the pad before swiping across the skin.