17 Hard-Working Makeup Removers That Won't Strip Your Skin

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Any time you wear makeup, it’s crucial to remove it at the end of the day—adding that one extra step to your routine can help prevent breakouts that can pop up after sleeping in makeup.  “Thoroughly removing makeup is important because if you’re not cleansing your face, then dirt and makeup is getting trapped in your pores, causing breakouts,” says makeup artist Tai Ceme. “It’s critical that you’re washing your face—and actually cleaning it—every single day, so that you’re applying new makeup onto fresh skin as opposed to piling new makeup onto old product and dirt.”

The good news? There are plenty of makeup removers out there that feel like a mini-facial—or, close enough. They also come in many forms, from hydrating, makeup-melting balms to beloved oil cleansers and the new standard of micellar water.

Whether you’re a proud double cleanser or prefer your makeup removal to be as quick as possible, we’ve rounded up the best makeup removers on the market.

Best Overall: Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover

4.7
CLINIQUE Take The Day Off Makeup Remover
What We Like
  • Doesn't tug

  • Non-irritating

  • Works on all skin types

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

Who else recommends it? The Strategist also picked the Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover.

What do buyers say? 3,100+ Sephora reviewers rated this product 4.5 stars or above.

This classic makeup remover does exactly what it says—it takes the day away. It effortlessly dissolves lipstick and eye makeup (including mascara), leaving nothing behind. The formula is also tug-free, non-irritating, and non-stinging so sensitive skin and eyes are welcome.

Type: Liquid | Size: 4.2 fl. oz. or 6.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water

Garnier

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Non-greasy

  • Non-irritating

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

Gentle, budget-friendly, and non-greasy—this popular micellar water is a no-brainer. With no rinsing necessary, it acts like a magnet to dirt, oil, and lingering makeup. This formula really shines for removing makeup from lips and face, but to remove eye makeup, simply hold a pad over closed eyes and gently wipe.

Type: Micellar water | Size: 3.4 fl. oz., 13.5 fl. oz., or 23.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover

5
Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover

Walmart

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Removes tough makeup

  • Oil-free

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves a residue behind

There’s a reason why most makeup lovers have owned this drugstore go-to at one point or another. The reliable dual-action formula activates when shaken to gently whisk away eye makeup—even waterproof mascara. Plus, the formula is oil-free, making it a better choice for those with lash extensions.

Type: Liquid | Size: 3.8 fl. oz. or 5.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Waterproof Makeup: Glossier Milky Oil

5
Glossier Milky Oil

Glossier

What We Like
  • Soothing

  • Hydrating

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves a residue behind

Users are obsessed with this super-effective makeup remover. It’s the perfect blend of micellar water and weightless oil, creating a dual-phase formula that easily removes makeup. Users seem to have only one complaint—they wish there was more of it.

Type: Micellar water oil | Size: 3.4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Eyes: Sisley Eye & Lip Gel Makeup Remover

Sisley Eye & Lip Gel Makeup Remover
What We Like
  • Removes tough makeup

  • Non-greasy

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Now, this product is quite the splurge, but it’s actually just that good. The refreshing gel texture feels amazing when you apply it to your eyelids and lips, providing hydrating benefits that last long after you’ve wiped it off.

Type: Gel | Size: 4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

The skin around your eyes is especially delicate. Choosing a gentle, tug-free formula is key to avoid unnecessary stress that could affect skin’s elasticity and lead to other signs of premature aging.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Gentle Touch Makeup Remover

Paula’s Choice Gentle Touch Makeup Remover
What We Like
  • Removes tough makeup

  • Soothing

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Contains parabens

This formula is gentle on your skin but tough on your makeup, easily washing away even the most stubborn waterproof mascara. It’s infused with aloe vera and green tea extract to nourish and soothe while licorice extract brightens for a calm, clear complexion. It’s also fragrance-free, making it a prime choice for those with sensitive skin.

Type: Liquid | Size: 4.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Lips: Beauty Bakerie Lip Whip Remover

Beauty Bakerie Lip Whip Remover

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Vegan

  • Hydrating

  • Dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves a residue behind

Your stay-all-day mattes and liquid lipsticks are great until you actually want to take them off, but these 2-in-1 oil-based wipes make it easy. The cruelty-free, vegan formula glides across your skin and does the work for you so that you don’t have to tug, and it also scores major points for forming a barrier that locks moisture in to keep your lips soft and supple.

Type: Oil-based wipes | Size: 50 wipes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Wipes: Lauren Napier Flaunt Facial Wipes

Lauren Napier Flaunt Facial Wipes
What We Like
  • Boosts radiance

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Not the most eco-friendly choice

These wipes don’t just remove makeup—they actually treat your skin. Ideal for normal to dry skin, they’re comprised of vitamin C to brighten, selenium to preserve elasticity, and vitamin K to reduce inflammation and dark circles. The results? A smoother, more even complexion.

Type: Wipes | Size: 15 or 50 wipes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

According to makeup artist Tai Ceme, a makeup wipe is a good start, but alone it’s not enough to truly cleanse your face. "A wipe is breaking up the makeup and moving it around," she says, "but to thoroughly remove the makeup from your skin you need to also follow up with an oil-based cleanser, a liquid cleanser, or micellar water.”

Best Cream Cleanser: Fenty Skin Total Cleans'r Remove-It-All Cleanser

Fenty Skin Total Cleans’r Remove-It-All Cleanser

Courtesy of Fenty Beauty

What We Like
  • Removes tough makeup

  • Lathers well

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

It’s rare that an ordinary cream cleanser can remove all of our makeup without some harsh rubbing involved—but Fenty Skin’s Total Cleans’r is no ordinary cream cleanser. This two-in-one formula's creamy lather dissolves even the most stubborn makeup, making for less steps and less hassle while being nice and gentle on the skin.

Type: Cream cleanser | Size: 4.9 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

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

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

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Hydrating

  • Works on all skin types

What We Don't Like
  • Contains PEGs

This hydrating cleansing balm goes from a solid to a luxurious oil to melt away your makeup effortlessly. Its milky texture rinses away clean and is full of plenty of hydrating ingredients to leave your skin feeling silky smooth and soft.

Type: Cleansing balm | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Micellar Water: Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water

4.8
Bioderma

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Lightweight

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Could be better at removing tough makeup

This micellar water has become a go-to for its super potent yet gentle formula that soothes and clears up irritated skin. Beauty expert and makeup artist Tai Ceme says this cleanser is her personal favorite: "It not only removes makeup but it also lifts any dirt from the skin; it’s not just removing your makeup, it’s cleansing and toning your face.”

Type: Micellar water | Size: 8.33 oz. or 16.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

bioderma sensibio micellar water

Byrdie / Olivia Hancock

Best Reusable: Face Halo Original

5
Face Halo Reusable Makeup Remover Pads

Revolve

What We Like
  • Eco-friendly

  • Deeply cleanses

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Could be better at removing tough makeup

Most makeup removers require you to use a cotton pad or a wipe of some sort, and though they may be effective, they’re not exactly the most earth-friendly way to cleanse. These reusable makeup remover pads have unique fibers that reach deep into pores to cleanse and refresh skin for up to 200 washes. Simply dampen the pad, massage your skin, and watch your makeup disappear.

Type: Reusable pad | Size: 5.91 x 0.79 x 7.87 in.

Best Balm: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying

Courtesy of SokoGlam

What We Like
  • Gently exfoliates

  • Hydrating

  • Award-winning

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

This 3-in-1 cleansing bomb is shockingly good. The sherbert-like texture of the balm transforms into a smooth oil when applied to the skin, removing makeup and impurities in one simple step. The formula also gently exfoliates, leaving your skin feeling soothed and hydrated.

Type: Cleansing balm | Size: 3.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multipurpose: Alchemy Body Shop The Balm

Alchemy Body Shop The Balm
What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Organic

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

This multi-purpose balm removes makeup, of course, but it can also be used from head to toe. It’s packed with healing antibacterial herbs and essential oils, making it a restorative solution for everything from cuts and scrapes to dry, itchy skin. Apply a little to use it as a lip balm or massage a generous amount into your skin to remove makeup.

Type: Balm | Size: 2 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Oil: Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil

BOSCIA MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Gentle

  • Soothing

  • Pump bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note the pump can get stuck

This gentle cleansing oil feels like such a luxurious way to remove your makeup at the end of the day. The nutrient-rich oil is packed with anti-aging and hydrating ingredients like green tea and roshyip to leave your skin feeling clean, nourished, and makeup-free.

Type: Cleansing oil | Size: 5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Pen: LASHFOOD Chamomile Makeup Eraser Pen

Chamomile Makeup Eraser Pen
What We Like
  • Recyclable packaging

  • Travel-friendly

  • Removes tough makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Dries out quickly

It’s super frustrating when you mess up your makeup and have to start all over again, but this convenient pen makes it easy to correct beauty blunders. It’s strong enough to erase when your waterproof eyeliner goes off course and also comes in handy for the perfect lip line.

Type: Pen | Size: 0.03 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Stick: Tula Makeup Melt Makeup Removing Balm

Tula Makeup Melt Makeup Removing Balm
What We Like
  • Travel-friendly

  • Contains probiotics

  • Doesn't tug

What We Don't Like
  • Empties fast

There are so many things to love about this travel-friendly makeup-removing stick. The nourishing balm is full of natural oils and butters to gently glide over your eye area while melting makeup on contact. It also gets a bonus for being formulated with probiotics to smooth your skin.

Type: Stick | Size: 0.32 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

When it comes to classic makeup removers, you can’t go wrong with Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover. It’s gentle, effective and good for all skin types. Glossier Milky Oil makes removing waterproof makeup a breeze and it has a cult-like following to back it up. And finally, for travel, reach for the Tula Makeup Melt Makeup Removing Balm. The easy-to-use stick melts makeup away on contact.

What to Look For in a Makeup Remover

Skin Type

Skin type is super important to consider when looking for a makeup remover. For sensitive and dry skin, micellar waters tend to be a great way to gently remove makeup while soothing and calming skin. For oily skin, it can actually be beneficial to use cleansing oil. When oily skin gets dry, it can go into overproduction mode and cause a sebum buildup, so don’t be afraid to use a good, balancing oil.

Ingredients

Unclean skincare is so early 2000s, these days— ingredients always come first. You want to avoid formulas that have high amounts of alcohol and synthetic fragrances, especially if you have sensitive skin. Many products also offer hydration as you remove your makeup, so moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid are a bonus. And when it comes to oils and balms, be sure to look for non-comedogenic oils like squalane, jojoba oil, and grapeseed oil (to name a few).

FAQ
  • What's the best thing to use to remove makeup?

    It depends on your skin type and needs. Balms and sticks can be great for quick removal and taking the product on the go, and especially for dry skin. Micellar water and liquid makeup removers can be great for combination and oily skin. For a convenient product to stash in your bag, wipes are portable and quick to use.

  • Which makeup remover is best for acne?

    We like the pick for sensitive skin on this list, Paula's Choice Gentle Touch Makeup Remover, because it is soothing and doesn't contain pore-clogging ingredients or potentially irritating fragrance. If you have acne breakouts, try to avoid heavy, oil-based makeup removers or scrubbing your face too hard.

  • How do you use reusable makeup remover pads?

    To use a makeup remover pad like the one on this list, wet the pad and add a dollop of makeup remover. Dab onto skin, gently massaging to remove all traces of makeup, but be sure not to rub too hard to avoid irritating your skin.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor Kindra Moné has been creating fashion and beauty content since 2013. Whether contributing to some of the top women’s lifestyle magazines or working in-house with global brands, Kindra has collaborated with some of the most knowledgeable beauty professionals in the industry. When she isn’t writing or trying out Instagram recipes, she’s giving wellness tips and sharing fashion news on The StylingSOUL Podcast.

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  1. The 11 Very Best Makeup Removers. The Strategist. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-makeup-remover.html

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