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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 the skin damage that can happen 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
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.
Best Budget: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
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.
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover
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.
Best for Waterproof Makeup: Glossier Milky Oil
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.
Best for Eyes: Sisley Eye & Lip Gel Makeup Remover
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.
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
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.
Best for Lips: Beauty Bakerie Lip Whip Remover
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.
Best Wipes: Lauren Napier Flaunt Facial Wipes
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.
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
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.
Best Hydrating: e.l.f Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm
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.
Best Micellar Water: Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water
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.”
Best Reusable: Face Halo Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
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.
Best Balm: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Purifying
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.
Best Multipurpose: Alchemy Body Shop The Balm
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.
Best Oil: Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil
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 rosehip to leave your skin feeling clean, nourished, and makeup-free.
Best Pen: LASHFOOD Chamomile Makeup Eraser Pen
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.
Best Stick: Tula Makeup Melt Makeup Removing Balm
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.
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 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.
Toxic 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).
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.