The 6 Best Eye Makeup Removers in 2022, Tested and Reviewed

Our Winner Is the Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Eye Makeup Remover Group Shot

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

It’s safe to say that one of the worst parts of wearing makeup is having to remove it at the end of the day. It’s a tedious task that we’re often tempted to skip—even though we’ve been told time and time again that properly removing makeup before bed is essential. Need more motivation to never sleep in your makeup? According to Georgia-based Optometrist Dr. Janelle Davison, “Removing eye makeup is essential to maintaining the normal bacteria flora around the lid and lash margin.” She explains that failing to do so can cause an imbalance of bacteria along the eyelid margin, which has been linked to blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, and dry eye disease.

Byrdie Tested & Approved

Thanks to the lightweight formula that effectively removes all traces of makeup without stripping the skin or leaving behind a greasy film, the Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover is our top choice. But if you’re looking for an affordable option or you’re hoping to try a cleansing balm formula, you can’t go wrong with the e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm.

We can’t promise that removing your makeup will become your favorite part of your skincare routine, but we can promise that using the right eye makeup remover will make the process less painful (literally and figuratively). So, we put dozens to the test in our lab in NYC, and ahead, we’re sharing the very best eye makeup removers on the market. 

Keep scrolling to see the best eye makeup removers tested by Byrdie.

Best Overall: Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover

5
Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Doesn’t leave residue on the skin

  • Removes makeup in just a few swipes

  • Non-irritating in the eye area

What We Don’t Like
  • Nothing

Of all the eye makeup removers we tested, this is our favorite. It’s a lightweight, bi-phase liquid that works to gently remove all traces of makeup without stripping the skin or leaving an oily residue behind. All you need to do is shake the bottle to mix the formula, apply it onto a cotton pad, and swipe away your makeup. It doesn’t require a sink, making it a great option if you’re on the go, and we love that it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It’s also hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested, and safe for contact lens wearers. 

Our tester found that it was easy to use, got the job done quickly, and left her skin feeling comfortable and ready for the next steps in her skincare routine.  

Formula: Bi-phase liquid | Byrdie Clean: Not known | Cruelty-Free: No

Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“The eye makeup remover felt so soothing on the skin and did an amazing job at removing makeup. My skin felt refreshed, clean, and hydrated without causing irritation.” —Michelle Cabrera, Product Tester

Best Budget: Neutrogena Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover

5
Neutrogena Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • A little bit goes a long way

  • Leaves very little residue

  • Accessible at most drugstores

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviews claim the formula has an oily feel on the skin

Whether you’re looking for a great option at an affordable price, or you’re traveling and forgot to bring makeup remover (we’ve been there many times), this is a solid option for you. We love that you can snag it at pretty much any drugstore for an affordable price, but the performance makes it stand out. 

The bi-phase liquid works to dissolve makeup in seconds without drying or irritating the skin in the delicate eye area. It’s also a very potent formula, meaning that a little bit goes a long way—so you won’t have to worry about having to constantly repurchase it. 

Aside from noticing how little product she needed to remove her makeup thoroughly, our tester shared that the formula felt comfortable on her skin and she didn’t see any residue. However, it’s worth noting that while the formula is oil-free, some people find that the consistency resembles that of lightweight oil. 

Formula: Bi-phase liquid | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Neutrogena Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Splurge: Tata Harper Nourishing Makeup Removing Oil Cleanser

4.8
Tata Harper Nourishing Makeup Removing Oil Cleanser

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    4.5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Smooth, luxurious texture

  • A little bit goes a long way

  • Great blendability

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviews say the pump dispenser is finicky

Cleansing oils can be highly effective when trying to remove heavy makeup. The idea behind this is that oil dissolves oil—meaning that oil-based makeup removers will work to dissolve oil-based makeup. So, if you’re wearing heavy foundation or a face of cream makeup, reaching for a cleansing oil like this one is a great option. 

This luxe formula is excellent for people with dry skin because it contains nourishing squalane. While it’s not the most convenient or mess-free formula, we love that it doesn’t need to be used in conjunction with a cotton pad, making it a sustainable option. 

After applying the product onto his hands and gently massaging it around his eye area, our tester found that it easily dissolved his eyeshadow and mascara. He also noted that a little bit goes a very long way, which is a plus considering its hefty price tag. 

While we appreciate the beautiful glass bottle it comes in, some online reviewers say that the pump is faulty, so keep that in mind.

Formula: Cleansing Oil | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Tata Harper Nourishing Makeup Removing Oil Cleanser

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Clinique Naturally Gentle Eye Makeup Remover

5
Clinique Naturally Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover

Ulta

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Leaves eye area feeling moisturized

  • Gently removes all traces of makeup 

  • Great blendability

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers say it’s not ideal for removing stubborn mascara

If you have sensitive eyes, then you know how uncomfortable it can be to get liquid makeup remover in them. That’s why a balm or lotion formula, like this one from Clinique, can be a great alternative because they have thicker formulas that are easier to control. 

This lotion formula can be applied with your fingertips or a cotton pad, and it works to break down makeup while leaving the skin feeling hydrated. It’s dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested, safe for contact lens wearers, and allergy tested. 

If you’re like our tester and feel hesitant about using a cream formula around your eyes, hopefully, her experience will reassure you that it’s a great option. She said that it easily removed her eye makeup without creating sticky residue, and she found that the creamy formula was comfortable and non-irritating in the area. She also appreciated that she didn’t need to rub too much to get the formula to work its magic. 

Our tester found that it effectively removed all of her makeup, but it’s worth noting that some online reviewers say it could do a better job at breaking down stubborn mascara. 

Formula: Lotion | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Clinique Naturally Gentle Eye Makeup Remover

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“I was a bit worried about putting a cream on my eye since it is very different from what I usually use, but I was amazed! The product came right off and there was absolutely no burning at all.” —Samantha Anderman, Product Tester

Best Lightweight: Nivea Eye Make-Up Remover Double Effect

5
Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Gets the job done quickly

  • Removes waterproof mascara

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers say it feels a bit greasy

If you can’t stand the feeling of heavy skin care products, you’ll love this fluid makeup remover. The lightweight formula works to dissolve stubborn makeup—even waterproof mascara—in just a few seconds. Despite its ability to break down waterproof makeup, it’s not overly stripping or harsh on the skin or eyelashes. 

Our tester shared that she was able to remove her entire eye makeup look using just two drops of the formula, and she noted that all that was left on her skin was a refreshing feeling—no residue. 

Despite the lightweight consistency, some people have said that they find the formula to feel slightly greasy to the touch. If this bothers you, we recommend washing your face after removing your makeup. 

Formula: Bi-phase liquid | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Nivea Eye Make-Up Remover Double Effect

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Soothing: Laura Mercier Soothing Eye Makeup Remover

5
Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Feels comfortable on the skin

  • Doesn’t leave residue

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers say it’s not great for removing waterproof mascara

The eye area is sensitive, to begin with, so add in rubbing to get your makeup off, and irritation can be hard to avoid. But with this liquid eye makeup remover, you’ll be able to remove eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara without needing to tug at the area. It gets the job done quickly, and the formula is infused with cornflower, which is known for its calming properties. 

Our tester found the formula to be easy to work with, residue-free, and soothing on their skin. Plus, tons of online reviewers say it’s non-greasy, gentle, and highly effective. It is worth noting that while it gets incredible reviews, one con we’ve seen is that it could be better at removing waterproof mascara. 

Formula: Bi-phase liquid | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Laura Mercier Soothing Eye Makeup Remover

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Hydrating: Glossier Milky Oil

5
Our Ratings
  • Feel
    4/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    4/5
What We Like
  • A little bit goes a long way

  • Doesn’t leave a greasy residue

  • Packaging makes for mess-free application

What We Don’t Like
  • Only comes in one small size

We love a good liquid makeup remover—especially for removing eye makeup—but they can be messy. With this one, the micellar water and lightweight oil formula are housed in a squeezable bottle with a pointed nozzle at the top, which makes dispensing just the right amount of product easy. 

Aside from the excellent packaging, we love that it’s a gentle formula containing soothing ingredients, like vitamin B5, and you only need a few drops to fully remove makeup. 

In addition to wishing that it was more accessible by being available at other retailers besides Glossier (we’re waiting patiently to see it on shelves at Sephora come 2023), it’s also worth mentioning that it only comes in one 100ml size which is pretty small when compared to similar products.  

Formula: Bi-phase liquid | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Glossier Milky Oil

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“​​I was able to use the same cotton round for both eyes and didn't even need to apply more product. It got all of the makeup off after 3 swipes per eye.” —Ellie Hertel, Product Tester

Best for Oily Skin: CHANEL Chanel Demaquillant Yeux Intense Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover

5
Chanel Demaquillant Yeux Intense Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover

Ulta

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Doesn’t leave residue

  • Nice lightweight consistency

  • Completely removes makeup quickly

What We Don’t Like
  • Our tester wasn't a fan of the fragrance

Understandably, not everyone will be able or willing to splurge on a luxury eye makeup remover, but if you can, this one is a great option—especially if you have oily skin. People with oily skin often find makeup removers to be overly greasy and although this one does have oil, it’s an incredibly lightweight, water-like consistency. We also love that it’s infused with ​​cornflower extract and rose extract, two ingredients known for their soothing qualities. 

Our tester raved about how quickly it removed all of her eye makeup, and she said it has a perfect consistency. “It was a watery formula but not drippy. And though it contains oil, it wasn't greasy or slimy-feeling,” she explained. 

Formula: Bi-phase liquid | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

CHANEL Chanel Demaquillant Yeux Intense Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What our Testers Say

“This removed every speck of shadow and mascara with one good swipe.” —Shannon Bauer, Product Tester

Best Balm: e.l.f Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

5
e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Soft consistency makes it gentle on the skin

  • Not overly greasy

  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains polyethylene

  • Some online reviews noted that they'd appreciate a larger option

Melting off your face of makeup with a creamy cleansing balm is ultra-satisfying—and these types of formulas are also really effective. This one starts as a soft solid and emulsifies into a creamy oil before turning into a milky consistency when mixed with water. It works to gently break down makeup without you needing to tug at the skin. It’s also formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides for an added boost of hydration. 

Despite the creamy texture, our tester appreciated that it didn’t leave behind an oily residue. She said it effectively removed all of her makeup and was gentle on her delicate eye area. Considering that it delivers on its claims at an affordable price, we can’t recommend this option enough. 

Formula: Balm | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

e.l.f Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Pads: Marcelle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads

5
Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Pads are perfectly saturated

  • Doesn't leave residue

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Some reviewers feel that the formula is too harsh

Makeup pads and wipes aren’t the most sustainable choice, but they’re a great option when you’re on the go. These small circular pads are soaked in a micellar makeup remover formula that works to dissolve all traces of makeup without over-drying the skin or leaving behind a greasy film. 

Our tester explained that the pads are just saturated enough to get the job done without being too wet and dripping into her eyes. With just one pad, she was able to completely remove her makeup. She also appreciated that it left her skin feeling normal—not dry and not coated in oil. We also love that the small container comes with 85 pads, and the formula is fragrance-free and dermatologist-tested.  

Formula: Pads | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Marcelle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Clean: Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil

5
Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil

Sephora

Our Ratings
  • Feel
    5/5
  • Residue
    5/5
  • Performance
    5/5
What We Like
  • Not overly greasy

  • Removes makeup gently

  • Packaging is made from 100% recycled plastic

What We Don’t Like
  • Not great at removing waterproof formulas

If you stick to clean skincare products, this cleansing oil is a great option for you. The soft formula contains a rich blend of sweet almond oil, castor oil, grape seed oil, and sunflower oil to nourish the skin while it dissolves makeup. 

It has a rich consistency, but our tester found that it didn’t leave her skin feeling slick or greasy. You can apply the product to your hands and massage it across your face to remove makeup, or you can add it to a cloth or cotton and swipe it across your skin, which was our tester's preferred method of application. Applying it directly to your hands can get a bit messy, but considering that it’s a wash-off product, this isn’t a big concern for us. 

One thing to note is that some people find it’s not the most effective for removing waterproof sunscreen and mascara formulas, so keep this in mind if you tend to use waterproof products. 

Formula: Cleansing Oil | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Final Verdict

The Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover is our winner. It has a lightweight formula that easily removes all traces of makeup without drying the skin or leaving behind a greasy residue. It’s a great option for daily use, and we believe that regardless of your skin type, it’s a great choice. However, if you’re looking for an affordable and accessible option, or you’re hoping to try a cleansing balm formula, we think you’ll love the e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Janelle Davison is a Georgia-based Optometrist with more than 15 years of experience providing eye care to her patients. She’s also a twenty/twenty beauty Visionary Panel member where she helps to ensure that all products created are effective and eye-safe. 
  • Colby Smith is a New York-based celebrity makeup artist whose work has been featured in major beauty campaigns, as well as graced the faces of celebrities on the red carpet.

How We Tested

Byrdie editors researched the most popular highly rated eye makeup removers on the market, taking expert recommendations and consumer reviews into account before selecting dozens to test. Each one was then evaluated based on feel, performance, and residue. Our testers followed manufacturer directions to remove eyeshadow primer, eyeshadow, and mascara in order to score the products from one to five in each category. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.

Other Options We Tested

Bioderma Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin

This ultra-popular micellar water did an excellent job at removing makeup without creating a residue, but our tester experienced a bit of stinging with this formula. 

Bioderma Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

People have long been raving about this Lancôme makeup remover, and while it does an excellent job at removing even waterproof makeup, our tester found the formula to be quite oily and tricky to avoid getting into her eyes. 

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Burt’s Bees Micellar Makeup Removing Towelettes - Rose

We love the affordability of these drugstore makeup wipes, but our tester found that she needed multiple wipes and some serious scrubbing to get the entirety of her makeup off.

Burts Bees Micellar Makeup Removing Towelettes - Rose

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What to Look For in an Eye Makeup Remover

Formula 

The most important thing to look for when trying to find the best eye makeup remover for you is the formula. The right formula will come down to your preferences as well as what type of makeup you’re trying to remove. If you’re just removing your daily face of makeup and you don’t wear waterproof formulas on a daily basis, most makeup remover formulas will work for you. But if you’re trying to remove waterproof makeup, Colby Smith, a celebrity makeup artist, recommends opting for a cleansing balm, like the e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm. “In order to break down waterproof makeup, you’ll need a remover with oil in it,” he says. “I love that the balm being a more solid formula makes step one of removal easier and quicker.” 

If you’re trying to remove stubborn glitter makeup, he suggests using makeup remover wipes or pads. “My tip for removing glitter is to start with a wipe,” he says. “I wrap it around my finger and roll to remove [the glitter]. If you swipe back and forth, glitter will transfer all over your face. Any leftover specks are easily removed with clear tape. Just tap that over the area and it instantly lifts the glitter off!”

FAQ
  • What is the most gentle way to remove eye makeup?

    Harsh rubbing in your eye area can cause irritation as well as damage to your lashes and delicate skin. In order to completely remove makeup without being too abrasive, Dr. Janelle Davison, a Georgia-based Optometrist, suggests gently rubbing the area in circular motions using a soft cloth soaked in a removing solvent. Instead of using a textured washcloth, opt for a soft cotton pad or cloth with a smooth texture. If you have very sensitive skin in the area, you can opt for a cleansing balm or oil formula and use your fingertips to break down the makeup.

  • What type of eye makeup remover should someone with sensitive eyes use?

    According to Dr. Davidson, micellar water formulas are best for people with sensitive eyes. “Sensitive eyes and patients at risk for dry eyes should consider using micellar water makeup remover followed by a daily hygiene spray, hypochlorous acid,” she says. “Micellar water remover is gentle on the skin and does not require rubbing or rinsing, and hypochlorous acid is a naturally produced substance made by our neutrophils to kill invaders of our body, bacteria, fungus, and viruses.” She explains that using these two formulas in combination with each other will work to effectively remove makeup and “maintain the integrity of the normal eyelid flora.” 

    If you’re interested in trying a hypochlorous acid spray, she recommends the twenty/twenty beauty Easy on the Eyes Calming Face Mist with Hypochlorous Acid.

Why Trust Byrdie 

Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and a product tester specializing in cosmetics. She is a contact lens wearer and has tested dozens of eye makeup removers—including several on this list. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty. 

Related Stories