Failing to remove your makeup at night may cause clogged pores, breakouts, and a dull complexion, but using a harsh makeup remover might dehydrate the skin and potentially damage your moisture barrier. Artificial fragrances, detergents, and preservatives can cause trouble for sensitive skin types. Plus, if you're into sustainable, environmentally friendly products, finding a natural alternative might also be a very good move.
So how does one balance effective makeup removal with a desire to keep their skincare routine clean and green? That's where this list comes in. The following natural makeup removers, such as non-comedegenic oils, effectively remove foundation, lipstick, and mascara while keeping the skin nourished—sans chemicals. "Keep in mind that when choosing one of these removers, you have to pick the correct one for your skin type. What may work on one person may not be suitable for another," says Dr. Marie Hayag, Board Certified Dermatologist and Founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics. Keep scrolling for some of the best natural makeup removers to try.
Coconut oil: the most versatile product in your beauty stash. We've found that the natural oil works as a moisturizer, hair treatment, cooking ingredient, all-natural lube (yep), and effective makeup remover. Just massage the stuff into your skin like a cleansing balm and rinse with warm water, wiping off the excess with a wet washcloth. It's also a great pick for heavier makeup-wearers: "Coconut oil is the best in my opinion to remove waterproof makeup," says Nydia Figueroa, professional makeup artist and VaultBeauty member. If you're acne-prone, proceed with caution. While coconut oil "is an effective and gentle makeup remover," according to Hayag, it "has the potential to clog pores."
"Jojoba oil and grapeseed oils are better options for acne prone skin because they are both non-comedogenic," says Hayag. This nourishing carrier oil is a favorite for mixing with essential oils, but it also has about a million skincare uses on its own, including its ability to remove makeup and "regulate sebum production," according to Hayag. Rich in vitamins A, E, and D, plus antioxidants and fatty acids, the product treats the skin while removing products as stubborn as waterproof mascara. Just apply it to the face, wait a minute for it to penetrate, and wipe it off with a reusable cotton round.
More sensitive skin types might like a vegan or raw milk-based cleanser. "Milk is a great way to remove makeup gently while helping seal in the skin's natural moisture," says Figueroa. She loves the Milk Makeup Vegan Milk Cleanser for a store-bought option made with the brand's proprietary Desert Milk blend of soothing ingredients, plus fig milk, oat milk, shea butter, argan milk, squalene, and grapeseed oil.
Sweet Almond Oil
Got super-sensitive skin? This ultra-gentle oil is similar to jojoba in that it's rich in vitamins A and E and promises to deeply cleanse the skin without breaking you out. Plus, it's incredibly mild, meaning it's safe to use even on the most temperamental skin types. "If you are choosing some sort of oil as a makeup remover, choose one that is cold pressed and unrefined," says Hayag. "In other methods of manufacturing, chemicals used to extract the oil can bind to it and lead to a lesser quality oil."
Alcohol-free witch hazel has been used to cleanse the skin for centuries. Use it alone with a cotton round or try mixing one-part witch hazel with one-part water and jojoba oil for a super-gentle, all-natural makeup remover. Figueroa and Hayag agree that witch hazel is an especially good option for those with oily skin. "It has anti-inflammatory properties and also acts as an astringent, which helps fight against acne," says Hayag. T.N. Dickinson's Witch Hazel Cleansing Cloths ($6) are Figueroa-approved for on-the-go makeup removal.
Witch hazel is derived from the witch hazel plant, also known as Hamamelis virginiana. It is known to relieve inflammation and fights acne.
Want the benefits of more than one ingredient without any dyes, fragrances, or preservatives? You'll be hard-pressed to find a makeup remover more natural than this one. Its ingredient list includes five good-for-you items: Argan oil, apricot oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, and rosemary extract.
Figueroa also recommends cucumber paste "as it gently exfoliates the skin while having anti- inflammatory properties to help soothe the skin. You can make this at home or I love to use the Cucumber Herbal Conditioning Cleanser by Kiehls."
Another fantastic option is grapeseed oil. The ingredient "is high in linoleic acid which aids in skin barrier repair functions," says Hayag. While you can use plain store-bought grapeseed oil, Hayag cautions against going the DIY route if you have reactive or acne-prone skin. "Ultimately, cosmetically formulated makeup removers are going to be a better option for most people because they are gentle, more effective, and are less likely to clog pores and cause acne." The We Love Eyes super gentle eye makeup remover contains just jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and tea tree oil. Press the product softly against your eyes with a cotton round, and wipe to reveal clean eyes (sans any inflammation).
May the products above remove your makeup the all-natural, organic way. Never go to sleep with a face full of makeup (or angry, irritated skin) ever again!
Thring TS, Hili P, Naughton DP. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells. J Inflamm (Lond). 2011;8(1):27. doi:10.1186/1476-9255-8-27