The 5 Best Makeup Removers For Acne-Prone Skin

By Marissa DeSantis
Bustle/Amazon

It goes without saying that removing your makeup is essential — especially if your skin has a tendency to break out. And while using one of the best makeup removers for acne-prone skin is a key factor to cleansing your face without exacerbating breakouts, it's just as important to pay attention to your face-washing method, too.

Choosing how to wash your face comes largely down to preference, but also, how much makeup you've applied. If you've only got on a few products — say, some blush, highlighter, and lip balm — a traditional cleanser and/or micellar water should do the trick. But when you've got more makeup on (think: foundation, concealer, mascara), double-cleansing is the way to go. This means starting with an oil-based cleanser to break down makeup and any other oil-based products, and immediately following up with a water-based face wash to remove anything leftover and deep clean your pores. Double-cleansing ensures your skin is getting the deepest clean possible, which is usually what acne-prone skin types need.

On a similar note, you should never rely solely on cleansing wipes to remove your makeup. Though you can feel free to use them as the first step in your cleansing process (to remove stubborn products like liquid lipstick or waterproof eyeliner), they don't actually provide a proper cleanse like face wash does. Using a wipe without following up with a cleanser essentially just smears your makeup around your face, which can make your acne much worse in the long run.

Now that you're armed with some key face-washing tips, it's time to talk products. When shopping for a makeup remover that won't irritate your skin or cause breakouts, it's important to pay attention to the ingredients. If the product is oil-based, look for a formula that's non-comedogenic and mineral oil-free to avoid clogging your pores. Potentially irritating ingredients, like fragrance and alcohol, should also be avoided, especially if your acne-prone skin leans towards the sensitive side. For a traditional foam, cream, or gel cleanser, the same rules apply, but you'll also want to look for an active acne-fighting ingredient, like salicylic acid, to really deep clean your pores.

Scroll on for five of the best makeup removers for acne to try now.

1. Best Oil Cleanser

If you're not fully convinced on the cleansing oil front, know that the DHC Pore Cleansing Oil was designed with oily and combination skin types in mind. Used as the first step in your cleansing routine, DHC's formula uses a combination of botanical oils that bind with the sebum, dirt, and makeup on your face to lift them away and leave your skin clean. These nourishing oils also offer moisturizing and skin-softening benefits, while a blend of antioxidants and citrus extracts help tone skin and fight off environmental stressors. The cleansing oil also doesn't list any fragrance or mineral oil on its ingredient list, which are both common irritants. Follow up with a water-based cleanser, like the one below, and you'll be on your way to clearer, healthier skin in no time.

2. Best Face Wash

Used on its own or as the second step in your double-cleansing routine, the Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser works to clean and treat your skin at the same time. The gel formula feels silky smooth on skin and is non-irritating, but it's still strong enough to remove stubborn makeup. To help treat and prevent acne, Paula's Choice included 0.5% salicylic acid in the formula, which is a popular BHA known for its ability to deep clean pores. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that can further help reduce breakouts and calm redness. "It really does get all [of] your make off, even your eye makeup," shared one reviewer, who added, "[It] reduces redness and it's been helping my acne."

3. Best Micellar Water

You can also start your double cleanse off with micellar water, which works similarly to oil cleansers to break down makeup and oil on your skin — sans oil. Instead, micellar water groups together mild surfactants, like zinc gluconate and copper sulphate, to form micelles that cleanse your skin without stripping. The Bioderma Sebium H2O Micellar Water is a part of the French pharmacy brand's lineup of cult-favorite micellar waters, but this one was formulated with oily skin types in mind. Use it all over your face, or just on targeted areas: it's excellent at removing waterproof eye makeup and stubborn liquid lipstick.

4. Best Cleansing Wipes

As stated previously, using face wipes on their own isn't ideal for acne-prone skin (though they're certainly better than nothing). The Body Shop's Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wipes helps purify acne-prone and/or oily skin without over-drying it, thanks to their hero ingredient, tea tree oil. Because of tea tree oil's anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it's a popular choice for calming redness and treating blemishes. The Body Shop infused these wipes with tamanu oil, too, which is said to have similar acne-healing properties. They're also a solid face wipe choice if you're looking for something that's good for the environment, since they're biodegradable, vegan, and made using community fair-trade ingredients. Remember to pair these wipes with a proper cleanser to give your acne-prone skin the thorough cleanse it needs.

5. Best Eye Makeup Remover

If you've gone all out with your eye makeup, you'll want to start your makeup-removing routine with a proper eye makeup remover. The Avène Gentle Eye Makeup Remover is also a great option if you have sensitive eyes, because it's hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested, and, as its name suggests, extremely gentle on both eyes and skin. It's even soap-free, oil-free, and fragrance-free, which works well for contact lens-wearers and anyone with sensitive skin. Instead, Avène uses a gel-like formula to bind to waterproof and washable makeup without burning or stinging your eyes. Sorbitol hydrates the delicate skin around your eyes, and the brand's own thermal spring water offers soothing benefits, so instead of feeling puffy or dry, your skin should feel moisturized and soft.

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Studies referenced:

The Wound Healing and Antibacterial Activity Of Five Ethnomedical Calophyllum Inophyllum Oils: An Alternative Therapeutic Strategy To Treat Infected Wounds (2015), Teddy Léguillier-Marylin Lecsö-Bornet-Christelle Lémus-Delphine Rousseau-Ralliard-Nicolas Lebouvier-Edouard Hnawia-Mohammed Nour-William Aalbersberg-Kamelia Ghazi-Phila Raharivelomanana-Patrice Rat - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4583440/