You want your eye makeup to stay in place without budging, flaking, or wearing off throughout the day. But at the end of the day, long-lasting makeup can be a real hassle to remove—especially if all you want to do is jump right into bed.
The skin around your eyes is delicate, which is why it’s important to treat your eye makeup removal process with care and diligence. That means always removing your eye makeup at the end of the day, no matter how tired you are.¹ Leaving your makeup on while you sleep can be a contributing factor to breakouts, depending on the ingredients in your makeup, and it can also dry out your skin. Think about it: Makeup is the last layer to go on your skin. Under your makeup, depending on your skincare routine, you may have moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, and/or sunscreen. Not to mention waterproof mascara. These can potentially trap oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells—all contributors to acne.
It’s not as easy as simply scrubbing until your makeup comes off. Instead, take your time and be gentle. The best way to remove eye makeup at the end of a long day is to use products that remove tough eye makeup without tugging and pulling your skin or lashes. Here’s how to take off eye makeup without damaging the skin.
Before you begin, you may want to consider washing your hands to avoid getting any dirt or bacteria in your eyes.
Not all eye makeup removers are created equal. And makeup wipes, well, they don’t always work. Here’s how to remove eye makeup without makeup remover (just in case you’re out).
Micellar makeup remover. Dermatologist-approved for acne-prone skin, micellar water is a cleanser, makeup remover, and moisturizer all in one. It does this with micelles, which are tiny oil molecules suspended in soft water with hydrophilic (water-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repelling) properties. You might say micellar water works like a magnet. It cleans by lifting away makeup and buildup from the skin’s surface without stripping its natural moisture (even waterproof makeup!). Dampen a clean cotton pad with micellar water, apply to the skin with a gentle rub, and repeat as necessary to remove makeup.
Jojoba oil. Non-comedogenic cleansing oils are a great way to remove eye makeup naturally. And jojoba oil is one of our favorite options. Use a pea-sized amount on a clean cotton pad or dab oil directly on your skin. Gently massage it in before wiping it clean. Don’t forget to rinse. If you’re wondering how to remove eye makeup using coconut oil, the answer is simple: don’t. Coconut oil is comedogenic,² which means it can clog your pores, and clogged pores can lead to acne.
Vaseline. It’s thick and greasy. This old-school skincare holy grail product is popular because it works. Here’s how to remove makeup with Vaseline: Put a small amount on your fingertips and carefully rub it on your eyelashes and around your eyes. Let sit for up to five minutes before wiping with a clean cloth.
Makeup removers, micellar water, oils, and Vaseline break down makeup so it can be wiped clean. But you need to give them time to do their job. Soak two clean cotton makeup remover pads with eye makeup remover, micellar water, or a few drops of oil. Place over your eyes. Wiggle the pads gently for about 15-30 seconds in circular motions. Use cotton pads, not cotton balls or a washcloth. Cotton pads are like cucumber slices—they’re easy to place over the eyes and won’t break apart.
Use the cotton pad to gently wipe away eye makeup from the inside corner of your eyes outward. When removing mascara, begin at the base of your lashes and wipe to the tips.
A frequently missed area is the inner corner of your eyelids, where your liner and mascara meet. Soak a cotton swab in jojoba oil and use it to break up eye makeup along the lash line. Gently wipe away, taking care to not break your lashes.
Washing your face should be part of your nighttime skincare routine. But just in case it’s not, we recommend cleansing after applying makeup remover, oil, or Vaseline. (Here are some of our favorite gentle cleansers, depending on your skin type.)
Your nighttime skincare ritual should include cleansing, treating, and moisturizing your skin to treat any problem areas and keep your complexion looking healthy. It may seem exhaustive, but it’ll only take about 10 minutes. Your future self will thank you!
Whether using a makeup remover or removing eye makeup naturally with oil, you’ll need a good face wash. Use a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. Massage a pea-sized drop of cleanser into your face and rinse. Be sure to use a soft towel to pat dry instead of rubbing.
Use a serum or cream formulated to treat your unique skin based on your skincare goals. Use products with alpha-hydroxy acids or retinoids at night—since they leave your skin sensitive to the sun and the sun makes them less effective. Over-the-counter acne-fighting ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and adapalene. Benzoyl peroxide fights against acne-causing bacteria, while salicylic acid and adapalene help unclog pores. Check with your dermatology provider to find out which one you should use to achieve your skin goals.
End your routine with a moisturizer for your skin type. Keeping your skin hydrated helps improve the appearance of certain signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also a great way to keep your skin healthy. The Curology Moisturizer is smooth and gentle enough to apply under the eye but you can also opt for a specialized eye cream with or without retinol if you wish! Remember, drinking water doesn’t target dehydrated skin; for that, you need moisturizer.
We understand that sometimes removing makeup can be annoying. You’re tired and you just want your beauty sleep. So, instead of taking your time and being gentle with your skin, you rub, tug, and pull your eye makeup off—along with your lashes.
The skin around your eyes is generally more sensitive than other areas of your face. It’s also thinner. That’s why it’s important to take your time, use gentle but effective products, and wipe rather than rubbing. It’s one of the best ways to remove eye makeup without causing wrinkles. Here are some tips professional makeup artists recommend to avoid damaging your skin while removing your eye makeup.
Vigorous rubbing only irritates the skin around your eyes. And it won’t remove your makeup any faster. Irritation leads to increased dryness, which is a contributor to fine lines.
It might seem like a good idea, but harsh scrubs can also damage and dry the skin around your eyes. Scrubs are a physical exfoliant and not something we generally recommend using on your face! The only physical exfoliate we typically get behind is the konjac sponge. It’s gentle enough to use two to three times a week to remove dead skin cells.
A back-and-forth motion can smear the makeup all around your eyes. Instead, start in the inner corners of your eyes and work outward and downward.
Some makeup removers have alcohol which can irritate and dry the skin around your eyes. Remember, you have delicate skin around the eye area.
A lot of people unconsciously use only one side of a cotton pad. Use both. Or, better yet, use a few cotton pads, especially if you’re removing long-lasting, waterproof eye makeup. Bonus points if you use reusable cotton pads!
Sometimes, you just need a list of expert-approved skincare products. We’d be remiss not to call attention to the micellar makeup remover by Curology (call us biased, but we believe it’s one of the best ways to remove eye makeup for sensitive eyes). It’s currently available only to Curology members, but you can sign up for a free trial to test it out at home* (more details on this later). If you’re looking for something over-the-counter, we’ve got you covered. Any of these products—following the steps above—will do a great job removing no-budge, no-smudge stubborn eye makeup. It’s how you remove makeup without wipes (which, if you ask us, are not all that great anyway!).
Curology micellar makeup remover. Dermatologist-designed with a silky gel-water texture to gently and efficiently remove makeup, it’s non-comedogenic with no added fragrances, parabens, or sulfates, and it’s formulated for all skin types.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O This option gently removes fine particles along with makeup and soothes sensitive skin.
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. Formulated with no oil, no alcohol, and no fragrance, Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water removes makeup without rubbing or rinsing.
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balms. Balms are great at removing thick foundation and eye makeup. This one dissolves makeup and gently exfoliates, and it’s designed for all skin types.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. Hyaluronic acid and essential ceramides make this cleanser an excellent wash to clean makeup removers or traces of makeup left behind. It’s formulated for normal to dry skin.
Removing your makeup before catching some ZZZs is just the first step to healthy-looking skin. Your skincare products should also include a regular cleanser, moisturizer, and treatment formulated to target your skincare goals.
At Curology, that’s exactly what we do—formulate custom treatments to tackle your unique skin. When you sign up for Curology, we give you a personalized solution that just works, alongside expert guidance from a licensed dermatology provider. Just take a short quiz and snap a few selfies. We’ll take care of the rest. Your free trial includes a personalized prescription formula (with three active ingredients to target your skin concerns), cleanser, and moisturizer.
And guess what? You can opt to include micellar makeup remover as part of your free 30-day trial with Curology for free! All you pay is $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling on your first box.
American Academy of Dermatology. Makeup Tips for Acne-prone Skin. (2019, December 10).
Francis, A. & Shojan, A. Comedogenicity of Oils. International Journal of Contemporary Medical Research. 2019.
* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.
Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C