We all know Cleansing is important (so important that I use a capital “C”), but did you know that Cleansing is actually a two-step process for those of us who wear makeup?  It’s true – you should not expect your cleanser alone to effectively remove all traces of makeup alone. This is where makeup removers come in.

Makeup removers, like cleansers, come in a variety of different forms. The form you choose depends largely on 1) the type of skin you have and 2) the amount of makeup you typically wear. I recommend all of my friends use oils and balms because I find them to be the most effective at all around makeup removal. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what forms are available in the market today.

Micellar Waters

Micellar Waters have surged in popularity recently due to its ability to effectively yet gently remove makeup. Micellar Water is suitable for all skin types, but especially appropriate for dry, sensitive, and acne-prone skin because it is oil-free and doesn’t contain alcohol that could irritate sensitive skin. If you are interested in trying out Micellar Waters, I recommend Bioderma, the French cult favorite, or the one currently in my rotation – La Roche Posay Micellar Water. Garnier also offers a Micellar Water at a budget-friendly price point.

LRP Micellar Water

Cleansing Milks

Cleansing Milks are best for dry skin prone to flaking and irritation.  This milder form of makeup removers are especially appropriate in the winter months when skin needs more conditioning and care. Cleansing Milks have a lotion consistency and dissolve makeup gently without over-drying the skin. I would recommend Cleansing Milks for people who have dry skin who wear light makeup as I find them to not dissolve heavier makeup such as eyeliners and mascaras as effectively as oil-based makeup removers. Below is La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser.

LRP Dermo Cleanser


Wipes have become very popular in recent years due to its convenience. I always have wipes in my gym bag, for example, because it’s quick and easy to use. Although convenient and fairly effective, I rarely use only wipes because I like to dissolve my makeup using an oil based makeup remover first.  The reason being the eye area is especially sensitive and you don’t want to be rubbing or tugging at this area without first dissolving waterproof mascara and eyeliner.

Wipes Kirkland


For those of us who love our black eyeliners, Bi-Phase makeup removers can be a godsend.  Like I mentioned above, the area around your eyes can be especially sensitive and prone to aging. Fine lines and wrinkles gather around the eye area as the skin here is especially thin and delicate. Here are the steps of using a Bi-Phase formula:

  1. First, shake the Bi-Phase formula to activate. The two colors of the Bi-Phase should mix into one.
  2. Then, soak a flat cotton pad with the Bi-Phase makeup remover.
  3. Place the cotton pad over your eye and let sit for about 10 seconds.
  4. Gently wipe away the eye makeup.

Tip: To reach the difficult nooks and areas, you can also use a precision tip Q-Tip soaked with a little Bi-Phase remover and gently sweep it in the corners, lower lash line.

My gripe about Bi-Phase formulas is that due to it being liquid, it can be more difficult to spread. They’re also not meant to be used on the rest of your face – although they can be, Bi-Phases come in smaller sized bottles so I think you would want to reserve most of it for the eye and lip areas.  I recommend Bi-Phase formulas for people who regularly wear dark, waterproof eye makeup who specifically need eye-makeup removers prior to taking off makeup on the rest of their face.

Three Point Makeup Remover

Balms & Oils

Balms and oils are my personal favorite when it comes to makeup removers. They are easy to use and suitable for all skin types and, in my opinion, the most effective at breaking up makeup, even stubborn, difficult to remove waterproof makeup. Balms are especially useful as you are able to travel with them, since they are not technically liquids. Oils are the most effective at melting off makeup – plus it doesn’t overdry your skin. They are also appropriate for all skin types, and especially dry and mature skin that needs extra nourishment. Right now, I am loving Beautycounter’s Nourishing Cleansing Balm. It’s a great formula that I’ve found to be very effective at removing makeup prior to cleansing. Boscia’s Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil is a good oil formula for those who want to try an oil formula but don’t know where to start.

BC Cleansing Balm

Boscia Oil

The balms and oils do a great job removing all of the eye makeup – but I will say the downside of using balms and oils is that it can sometimes fog up contact lenses. I have learned to take out my contacts before I use oils and balms to not trap any of the stuff in my eyes. This Bi-Phase formula does the trick but you have to be diligent about spreading it all over the eye, even the bottom lash lines in order for it to take everything off thoroughly. Another trick is to use a warm, soft washcloth to gently wash your face and makeup remover with. And, this is all before you even pick up your favorite cleanser. Trust me, cleansing is super important so you do not want to skimp on this step.

Hope this clarifies the different types of options you have when choosing a makeup remover. If you have questions, drop by our Facebook page and join the conversation!

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