As makeup artist Dick Page likes to say, makeup is temporary. One of the joys in wearing it is that it’s a low stakes endeavor; once you’ve had your fun with it, it can easily be removed. But when it comes to doing just that, it helps to use the best makeup remover to fit your needs—especially when all you want to do at that point in your day is face plant into the nearest downy pillow.
Whether you need to dissolve layers of foundation and waterproof mascara or just break down tinted sunscreen and blush, you’ll want something that is simple yet effective. The formula “preferably has no mad active ingredients,” says Page, who has worked at countless shows backstage at Fashion Week as well as editorial shoots. “It should do the job without [requiring] scrubbing.”
Makeup artist Sheri Stroh echoes that sentiment. “I look for makeup removers that quickly break down makeup, are easy to use and do not sting my eyes.” Ahead, the best ones to do the job for various skin types.
Best Makeup Remover Overall
A Beloved Classic That Tackles All Types Of Makeup
Best Makeup Remover For Sensitive Skin
A French Pharmacy Favorite That Works With All Skin Types
Best Makeup Remover For Acne-Prone Skin
A Skin-Soothing Option
Best Makeup Remover For Dry Skin
A Creamy Emulsion That Breaks Down Makeup
Best Makeup Remover For Combination Skin
A Purifying Formula That Doesn’t Require Rubbing Or Rinsing
Best Waterproof Makeup Remover
A Makeup Pro Favorite
Best Makeup Remover Balm
A Bestselling Balm Cleanser
Best Makeup Remover Wipes
Earth-Friendly Cleansing Wipes
How To Choose The Best Makeup Remover
The pros agree on looking for something that is gentle but effective. You want one “that removes even the most waterproof, full-coverage, long-wearing makeup gently without irritation or stripping the barrier,” says Urichuk.
“It should do the job without scrubbing,” says Page. In other words, it should effortlessly melt down makeup and not require you to put any elbow grease behind it to see results. If you have to use pressure and if it leaves your skin feeling irritated, kick it to the curb.
Formulations can vary from liquid to creams to balms to oils. Liquids are ideal for lighter amounts of makeup versus balms and oils, which can tackle a more heavily made up face.
When it comes to skin type, if you’re on the dry or sensitive side, you’ll probably prefer balms and oils, as they leave behind a layer of hydration. Oilier types should go for anything water-based, since it will do the job with zero residue.
The greater the amount of makeup you’re wearing or the more tenacious it is (think waterproof or long-lasting formulas), the heavier the remover you’ll need. That’s why theatre actors tend to use thick unguents like petroleum jelly to tackle heavy stage makeup. For a light amount of makeup, a micellar water will do the trick.