The 5 Best Makeup Removers, Plus How To Make Sure Your Face Is Really Clean Before You Hit The Hay


We've heard time and again that one of the most important things we can do beauty-wise is to remove our makeup before we go to bed. And it really is a crucial step; one that starts with finding the best makeup remover for you. When we sleep is when our bodies heal and recover from the day — skin included. If makeup is left on the skin overnight, it is inhibiting the skin's chance to recover. This is because makeup can hold on to free radicals (which can cause fine lines and wrinkles over time) and clog pores (which can cause breakouts).

The best course of action to ensure that skin is properly cleansed and ready to receive all the benefits of sleeping is to always wash your face after removing makeup. Since makeup removers don't always remove all of our makeup, it is important to make sure to follow up with a cleanser so that there are no traces left to clog pores or do other damage overnight. But on late or lazy nights, washing your face can just be too much work. So it's helpful to have a makeup remover that is doing a thorough job, and to know how much of that remover you'll actually need. Which makeup removers work the best though? Let's find out.

The Experiment

From left: Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser with Peach Essential Water, $21, Amazon; e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths, $9, Amazon; M-61 Supersoothe E Makeup Remover, $22, Amazon; Yes To Cucumbers Facial Wipes, $6, Amazon; Yon-Ka Paris Eau Micellaire, $42, Dermstore

To see which makeup remover is the most effective, I started by applying a full face of makeup. I made sure to use longer-wearing products including face and eye primers, a medium-coverage foundation and powder, brow gel, waterproof eyeliner, and liquid lipstick. I wore the same makeup for each test, and wore it for four hours before attempting to remove it. For water-based cleansers, I used fully saturated cotton rounds (Up & Up brand) until they came back clean. For makeup-remover wipes, I used a second one to see how much makeup was left on my face after using the first one. Here's how much remover it actually takes to fully remove makeup.

Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser with Peach Essential Water

Although I felt like all of my makeup was removed after three cotton rounds, it actually took six cotton rounds to fully remove it. My eyes did feel slightly irritated after removing my eyeliner and mascara, although I'm not sure if this was due to the remover or the cotton rounds. However, my extremely matte lipstick came off the easiest with this remover. The remover itself has an amazing peachy smell, and it left my skin feeling lightly hydrated. Once my skin was dry, it had a slight sticky feeling when I touched it.

e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths

These cloths are slightly larger and thinner than what I am used to for makeup wipes, and I still felt like my face was clean after one wipe. However, a second wipe showed that there was still some foundation and lipstick left on my face. I found that these cloths were not too wet, so it did not irritate my eyes, but made it a little more difficult to remove my matte lipstick. These wipes have a light, clean scent that is not too noticeable when using, and leave the skin feeling normal and not sticky after use.

M-61 Supersoothe E Makeup Remover

With this remover, I felt like all of my makeup was gone after four cotton rounds, though it actually took six before it came back clean. It was also slightly irritating around my eye area, but again, I am not sure if this was due to the cleanser itself or the cotton rounds I used. The remover has a refreshing lemon scent and leaves the skin feeling normal but slightly sticky after use.

Yes To Cucumbers Facial Wipes

Compared to the e.l.f. wipes, these ones are smaller, thicker, and wetter. After the first wipe, I felt that all of my makeup was removed except for the eyeliner and mascara closest to my lash line. A second wipe revealed that there was still some foundation left on my face, but otherwise the wipes had done a great job of removing my waterproof eye makeup. These wipes have a strong cucumber scent, which is quite calming. Regarding hydration, my skin felt normal with a hint of dewiness after use.

Yon-Ka Paris Eau Micellaire

This last cleansing water took three cotton rounds for me to feel like my makeup was fully removed, but five rounds to come back clean. It was not irritating to my eye area, but lipstick was a little more difficult to remove. The remover has a pleasant floral scent, and left my skin feeling normal and ever-so-slightly sticky.


Overall, I was surprised by how much remover it actually takes to fully remove makeup for every product. My skin consistently appeared clean to my naked eye before all of my makeup was actually removed. So if you plan on (or resort to) removing your makeup before bed without following up with a cleanser, it's important to continue using remover until your wipe or cotton pad comes back clean. Even if it means you'll go through your products faster than you hoped to, going to sleep with clean skin is more important. So depending on what you want most from your makeup remover to be and feel clean, here's how these five compared:

Best at removing face makeup: Yon-Ka Paris Eau Micellaire

Best at removing eye makeup: e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths

Best at removing lipstick: Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser with Peach Essential Water

Most hydrating: Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser with Peach Essential Water

Least sticky: e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths

Now, I don't want to hear any more excuses about why you slept in your makeup. Ever.

Images: Courtesy of Brands; Miki Hayes (10)