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All that furious tugging when removing your eye makeup is doing way more harm than good. And the nights you’d rather skip the battle and go straight to bed? Bad. Very bad. We know removing long-lasting makeup—waterproof mascaras included—can be a feat on its own. But it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is equip yourself with the right makeup remover, and the rest just melts away. Water-based, micelle-infused, or oil-free, there’s a heavy-duty eye makeup-removing formula that’ll go to war for you—and win.
Below, the best eye makeup removers out there right now.
Best Overall: Bioderma Sensibio H2O
This no-rinse micelle formula is as easy and gentle as it gets. Because it’s free of fragrances, oil, and parabens, it’s ideal for even the fussiest of skin types. Reviewers like how clean and fresh their skin feels after use—and how the formula doesn’t sting or irritate the delicate eye area.
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.
What Our Testers Say
"When the makeup came into contact with the micellar water, it began melting away effortlessly." — Olivia Hancock, Product Tester
Best Budget: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
Here’s another micellar favorite for an affordable price. This simple formula lifts makeup, dirt, and debris from the skin without any harsh tugging or pulling. For particularly stubborn makeup, users recommend soaking a cotton pad with the formula and pressing it onto the eyes for a few seconds before wiping it off. The best part is after removal, your skin feels comfortably clean with no residual makeup or greasy residue left behind.
Best Drugstore: Simple Kind to Skin Dual Effect Eye Makeup Remover
Sure, this combo formula of purified water and cleansing oil will quickly and gently take off every sign of makeup, but what I love most about it is how hydrated my skin feels after use. While other removers can be harsh—I can still feel the sting of certain formulas—this one is relatively mild. Plus, it’s got a two-phase formula, so the oil part attracts makeup and dirt, while the water portion lifts and cleanses.
Best for Sensitive Eyes: Merle Norman Very Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
You’ve probably heard this before, but the skin around your eyes is extremely delicate. Throw in sensitive eyes and suddenly, everything is irritating. Not this remover. Although ideal for all skin types, this formula works great for those who suffer from redness and irritation. Devotees of this bottle have used it for years—it’s gentle, effective, and consistent.
Best for Waterproof Makeup: Plain Jane Beauty Micellar Makeup Remover
There’s nothing stronger than waterproof makeup—except for this tough formula. But don’t let its power fool you: It’s made without toxic chemicals or synthetic colors and is cruelty-free. A user reports that it feels cool and revitalizing on the skin, making it a treat to use in the morning to prep the eyes and at night to remove makeup.
Best Pads: Burt’s Bees Eye Makeup Remover Pads
Perfect for your gym bag, traveling, or anywhere you need refreshing, these hypoallergenic remover pads are easy to carry and use. Infused with kiwi extract, they’re equal parts moisturizing and cleansing. Users like the hexagonal shape, which allows them to get into every nook and cranny to remove their eye makeup.
Best Wipes: Athena Club Soft Face Wipes
Have you ever cleansed your eyes with a cloud? Well, here’s your chance. Pillowy soft and pleasantly gentle, these wipes feel totally comfortable over the skin. Unlike other wipes, they aren’t overly saturated, and actually house the perfect amount of liquid to effectively clean your entire face. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the formula is chock full of vitamins like B3, B5, and E.
Best Balm: Farmacy Meltaway Cleansing Balm
There’s nothing more satisfying than watching your makeup literally melt away. One of my absolute favorite products, this formula harnesses the power of plants (like sunflower oil and papaya enzymes) to not only completely remove makeup but to hydrate, too. I like to take a bit of product between my fingers, create a smooth paste, and then massage directly onto my eyes. It’ll dislodge everything—even your waterproof mascara.
Best Gel: Sisley Eye & Lip Gel Makeup Remover
This mild gel formula essentially brings out impurities from the skin and removes them. It's rich in ingredients like peony extract, pro-vitamin B5, and ginseng extract, and will leave the skin both hydrated and toned. To apply it, you can use either a cotton pad or your fingers to massage in the product. Wipe away with a cloth or pad—no need to rinse.
Best Eco-Friendly: e.l.f. Cosmetics Cleansing Cloud
A reusable makeup remover pad that only needs water to work? Yep, believe it. The magic of this product lies in the fiber strands that grab onto your makeup with the help of water, which loosens up makeup and debris. Simply soak the pad with water—the temp is up to you—squeeze out the excess, and wipe across your skin until all traces of makeup are gone.
Best for Lash Extensions: Neutrogena Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover
An oil-free formula is a must for eyelash extension-wearers—and this one from Neutrogena is a classic. It’s lightweight, non-greasy, and fits every budget. When cleaning around your extensions, enlist the help of a q-tip to get into hard-to-reach areas versus pressing and pulling with a cotton pad. And most importantly, don’t forget to shake well before use.
Best Oil Cleanser: Glossier Milky Oil
Micellar water and lightweight oil come together to deliver a soft, deep clean. Reviewers report that it removes every hint of makeup, even traces of stubborn glitter. While it’s recommended to saturate a cotton pad with the formula, most users like to squeeze the product into their hands and massage it directly onto their skin. The only complaint? It needs to come in a bigger size.
What to Look For in Eye Makeup Remover
This should go without saying, but, as with any product you’ll be applying near your eyes, it’s crucial that the formula is non-irritating. “Look for fragrance-free and alcohol-free labels as well s formulas that don’t contain parabens, formaldehyde releasers, or other chemicals,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman.
The Right Formula for Your Skin Type
“I often advise patients to let their skin type guide their product choices, and this is true of makeup remover, too,” says Dr. Engelman. She says that knowing your skin type and what kinds of formulas are compatible with it will allow you to get the most out of your products and avoid any unwanted side effects. “If you have acne-prone skin, it’s a good idea to avoid oil-based makeup removers,” she says. “Instead, opt for varieties that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to soak up excess oil and help clear acne. Those with dry or sensitive skin may benefit from a nourishing cleansing oil.”
“Of course, we all want to use products that work efficiently and well, but this is especially important when working with the delicate eye area,” says Dr. Engelman. She explains that rubbing and pulling the skin around our eyes—like we might if using a makeup remover that isn’t strong enough for tough mascara—can cause damage and even exacerbate fine lines and wrinkles over time. “It’s important to choose a formula that will effectively and gently dissolve makeup with minimum wiping required.”
Meet the Expert
Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City.