How To Remove Your Makeup
There are multiple products out there claiming to be the best makeup remover; micellar water, milky cleansers, coconut oil, foaming cleansers, makeup wipes, eye makeup removers, among others. We talk to three individuals with an interest and experience in this space, and I myself, a skincare enthusiast, and person that asks a million questions, share what I have found works, as well as sourcing the ever beautiful Helena’s routine, to get to the bottom of this - with a simple approach that is adaptable to your skin type and lifestyle.
Who do we ask?
Sabi Datoo Lalji, our own contributing editor, an avid beauty and skin care product reviewer, bring us the perspective of someone who has tried almost all of it, and the perspective of someone with a more sensitive skin type.
Amelia Sabra is a writer and marketing strategist in the beauty space, and currently is part of the Le CultureClub team, which specializes in decoding beauty products and matching them with their customer’s needs.
Deepti Sadhwani, a makeup artist specializing in editorial and character makeup, who brings us the perspective of a makeup artist that is onsite with fast-paced environments that also demand decent skin of their models and where good skin is the foundation of the work she does.
Myself, I reference what I use, as have tried a lot out there, and have asked many facialists for their advice, having rounded down to the cleanest, and simple yet effective routine for myself.
Helena, also known as the ‘Brooklyn Blonde’ is someone I have been following for years, and love her style, aesthetics, interior design choices, and may I also add, her stories and info she shares, including her cute little one, Nate, are all wonderful to watch. For those of you familiar with her, her skin is amazing, and Helena too visits many facialists and has gone on a journey to find the skin care answers as well.
What To Use + Do ?
Let’s dive into the answer, and get into a little conversation and elaboration later on. This is a roundup based on what the ladies above share with their experience [recommended products linked below]:
goal: really get everything off, avoid breakouts, but still nourish your skin, avoid harsh ingredients/products.
Double Cleansing - with oil / balm
Using a cleansing balm, oil, to break down the build up on your face, followed by a gentle face wash to clean that oil and decalog pores.
Concept that ‘oil removes oil’.
Great for days:
You are in a city/polluted environments.
Have makeup on.
Have SPF on.
Can be nourishing to eyelashes.
Apply on DRY skin and massage to break away everything on your face, while promoting circulation.
Mostly need at end of day, not necessarily in the AM, unless you feel like you have slept on a dirty surface, etc.
Use with muslin cloth for sure, avoid cloudy eyes this way too!
ICE: use coconut oil, almond oil at home.
single cleanse - with a milk / lotion based cleanser
Just one facial cleanser [not using oil as your first step], a classic routine for men and women.
Great for days:
Mornings, where you are just washing away last nights lotions/creams.
Go for a gel, milky, lotion-like cleanser.
General rule: avoid foam cleansers, they mess up the pH of your face’s skin, a few foaming cleansers work, and might help cleanse the oil/balm from a double cleans [our reccs below].
Sensitive skin type
Might not need a double cleanse every time.
Wearing light makeup and rather have one clean cleanse.
Sabi loves: “My ultimate go-to product and consistency is a lotion-based remover, paired with a muslin cloth”.
Face Halo - easy, clean, REUSABLE, makeup wipe away
A microfibre pad designed to wipe away all your make up with just warm water - it works!!
Wiping away makeup, before a single or double cleanse.
Especially great for wiping away heavy make up before a double cleanse.
e.g. after events, a weekend night out, etc.
Pro (black) and Original (white) pads - only difference is color.
Reusable up to 200 times, machine washable.
Easy to travel with.
muslin cloths - an everyday routine essential
Avoid harsh towels and use a muslin cloth to wipe away your face wash and pick up any leftover gunk on your face
Essential for getting everything off - single or double cleanse.
Use once and throw in the wash easily, keep a few at home [10-15, they usually comes in packs of 5].
Gentle on the skin but still helps wipe away after your cleanse [single or double].
a quick word on foaming cleansers, makeup wipes, micellar water
Avoid these guys if you can!! They are filled with chemicals and do not really clean your face. Opt for a face halo pad instead if you need something handy.
In general, you want to avoid these, they are harsh on skin, and almost everyone you talk to will agree that it does not work. Think about it you want to break down dirt and wash it away without stripping. Foaming cleansers, most of the time, will alkalize your skin, and skew the pH balance.
Deepti says she loves having Micellar water around to use on models and clients onsite. It’s a quick solution to “remove mascara, lashes, liquid lipsticks, heavy eyeshadow looks, I use Bioderma micellar water as its more gentle for the face to remove long-wearing/waterproof products first”. Green tip: use reusable pads (for this and toners if you prefer to wipe vs mist), you can easily find these on Amazon or Etsy (note: they are not a replacement for FaceHalo- that is specifically designed to get through waterproof makeup!).
Wrap up with the rest of your skincare routine!
Okay, Let’s Chat A Little More
a look into the routines of these ladies:
“My ultimate go-to product and consistency is a lotion-based remover, paired with a muslin cloth. (Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish is my desert island must-have.) I find that lotion is gentle for my skin type … I then use warm water and a muslin cloth to wipe away the lotion which not only lifts the days grime off your skin, it also delicately exfoliates the skins surface, simultaneously.”
In adapting to different situations or settings Sabi usually sticks “to what works, cleanse, tone, moisturizer etc, however, if I've been working out or just gotten off a long-haul flight, I will double cleanse with the muslin cloth.”
“I spent years using foaming face washes, scrubs, and gels and even though they remove my makeup, they also strip my skin of its oils and moisture, leaving me with tight and dry skin. I also found that if you dry out your skin with these squeaky-clean products, you tend to produce more oil, as your skin thinks it needs to, (because it does) which results in sebum build-up and acne. No thank you!”
Clean Beauty Products:
“I tend to look out for a handful of ingredients when shopping for skincare. Firstly, alcohol, it's a key ingredient in any oily-to-combination skin makeup remover, as it serves as an antibacterial agent, therefore "cleaning the skin" so you don't get spots. However, it's damaging and drying, so steer clear of it. All the sulfates, these are often only present in foaming washes as it's literally what causes the product to foam, however, it's again, extremely drying. Lastly, try and use Paraben-free products. Parabens are a commonly-used preservative in all the skincare and body aisles, however, due to the nature of its synthetic chemicals, absorbing it through your skin has been known to lead health problems.”
“The key to navigating around sensitive skin is to treat it to really good skin food throughout the day. Use serums and moisturizers that calm and hydrate, so your skin can restore overnight. Wear a gentle SPF during the day to protect your skin from sun rays, and make face oils your friend!”
“There is truly nothing that brings me more joy than removing my makeup at the end of the day. I always double-cleanse if I’m wearing an ounce of makeup - even tinted moisturizer! I use a cleansing balm first on dry skin”.
“For a non makeup day, I’ll usually just do one cleanse with a light face wash… If I have on some really intense eye-makeup from a party or night out, I’ll clean that up with Bioderma’s Micellar water.”
On makeup wipes
“Hard Pass. Some of the reason is that my skin just doesn’t feel clean, which is a personal thing, but after doing a ton of research on them for work, I found that they’re just not effective cleansers. They leave behind oil and dirt, which can clog your pores. Plus a lot of them are not biodegradable!”
On the go
“I keep a small bag with mini versions of my favorite skincare products in my bag at all times. I use a tiny DHC cleansing oil when I’m traveling. If I’m really in a pinch, I’ll use Bioderma’s Micellar Cleansing Wipes, but I always make sure to wash my face again!”
“ I always carry makeup wipes, Bioderma Micellar water, an oil cleanser and a milky cleanser. I never carry or use foaming cleansers as they can be harsh on the skin due to the surfactants present. We usually put the models’ skin through a lot with makeup changes throughout the shoot so I like to remove makeup as gently as possible. If the model/client has to run, I give them a couple of wipes to quickly clean while on the go.”
“For myself – I do the same… At the end of the day, when removing makeup, I double cleanse. I start with a cleansing balm, follow with a milky cleanser and the rest of my skincare routine.”
“Always apply cleanser on a dry face to break down oil, dirt, sweat, product. Never wash face with water that is too hot, it can irritate the skin. I always use cool, sometimes tepid/room temp water to cleanse. Whenever possible, I use a face towel when cleansing. Use a cold facial massager on clean skin before makeup to reduce inflammation and puffiness and increase blood circulation. If I have a breakout coming, I place a cold spoon on it before applying makeup to reduce the swelling.”
On the go
“I love wipes. They are easy to carry and easy to use. Many brands sell travel size versions of their products to make them easy to carry. If not, I like to decant them into small travel size containers. Airplane air can be severely dehydrating and can cause breakouts so hydrating before, during, and after air travel is important.
On double cleansing for skin types
“I do think it works for most if not all skin types. I definitely swear by it and I have dry/combination (oily in my t-zone). Oily skin types should not be afraid of oil cleansers. Oil cleansers have the power to dissolve oil better than any other cleansing ingredient. Oil cleansers reduce excess sebum and can also regulate how much oil your skin produces.”
“I love using Savor Spa’s all natural locally made, effective, products to cleanse. I use their Nourishing oil cleanser [bonus: they nourish my lashes!] to remove product and dirt at the end of the day on a dry face, or after a trip, followed by a gel cleanser or Savor Spa’s Pearl cleanser all wiped away with a muslin cloth. After visiting and charring with multiple estheticians and reading a bunch online, I feel like this is the best, simplest way, and one that has been keeping my skin clear and gloomy through different situations, weathers, etc.”
on the go
“My face routine is non-negotiable, if I can’t carry the whole thing, I have reusable little containers that I transfer the products into. I usually carry one piece my Face Halo with me onboard. If using a sleeping mask, a silk option is a must to be nice to be skin and hair!”
“I try not to touch my face during the day, stick to the AM/PM routine [PM often being after a night shower, or before I sit to watch TV a little before going bed]. If I workout in the middle of the day, I do a single cleanse for sweat intense classes, and follow with a mist and serum, and non-sweaty classes I just wipe my face with a Face Halo pad and follow with mist and moisturizer to re-moisturize/balance my face.”
on PRODUCT choices
“I’ve completely given up wipes - used to use them every day. I also am obsessed with what ingredients go on and in my body. There is no reason that nature doesn’t have the answers to nourish us, at least most of the answers [all for modern science too!]. I do keep a packet of wipes [recommended brands above and below] in my bathroom just in case I ever run out of any of my products. Haven’t had to use them yet! A good home go to is coconut oil too, worst case olive oil! I’ve recently also started flipping my pillow every two days and changing it a minimum of once a week to ensure no clogged pores if I sleep on my side.”