How to Remove Makeup Properly

It’s funny how I had never thought of writing a post about removing makeup on this blog, especially when it’s my profession.

how to remove makeup properly
Image: Bioderma

Although I suppose why would I think of it – most of the times, after a makeup gig is done, so is my job. I don’t think I’ve once had to remove makeup after a job (or at least so far).

Thing is, makeup removal for personal use is incredibly important, so I was glad when I got in this question from a reader asking about the proper way to remove makeup. Read on for her question, and for my response.

(By the way, if you ever have a question that you want me to answer, just e-mail me.)

Hi Renee!

I have progressed from not putting any makeup, to putting some light makeup now that are sweat/water resistant and give protection from UV rays as well as oil control.

However, I am not too sure if I am removing my makeup thoroughly.

I am using baby oil to remove makeup from the eyes and a cleansing gel for the rest of my face.

Can this type of cleansing gel remove the different characteristic of my makeup (e.g., like I mentioned above, some SPF, oil control, etc)?

It’s a great question, ’cause as I mentioned makeup removal is vital.

Proper removal will help prevent skin infections, blemishes and other dirt and grim that can build up and lead to nasties on the face.

Here are the methods I recommend.

Double Cleansing

While in the shower, use your normal cleanser and massage your face to get all that grime out.

Rinse off and repeat.

The second time is to cleanse your skin, while the first was purely for makeup removal.

For those who use heavier foundations, sunscreens, makeup primers, etc., this may not be enough for you and you may want to be ‘extra safe’ when removing everything – in this case, I would recommend a specific cleansing product to remove the makeup first, i.e. a cleansing milk or my personal favorite, micellar water.

Micellar Water

Micellar water came into the industry only a few years ago and it’s has just about taken over the makeup removal retail space.

It’s also one of my favorite beauty products, so I highly recommend micellar water for removing makeup. You soak a cotton pad with it and apply all over – skin, eyes, lips, and then in the shower, cleanse your face as usual. This will remove all traces of product on your face.

Check out my post, 9 Micellar Water Hacks That Will Change Your Beauty Regime), for all the ways you can use it, too.

Oil-based Makeup Remover

For eye and lip makeup, any makeup remover will do, to be honest, but if it’s waterproof makeup, you may need something stronger.

I would recommend is Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover or L’Oreal’s Dermo Expertise Gentle Lip and Eye Makeup Remover. I use both and love them equally! They remove everything fast and even though oil-based, it doesn’t leave any oily residue behind.

If you’re using the proper products to remove your makeup (either micellar water, makeup remover, or even a cleanser) and then cleansing your skin afterwards, all product will be removed.

It’s important though to cleanse your skin after makeup removal.

Allow me to be very Singaporean, but making sure you cleanse your skin afterwards will not only help your skin but will “double confirm” all product is removed from the skin.

A side note about baby oil, I wouldn’t recommend it on the face or the eye area as it is very greasy and can cause milia seeds.

Hope this helps!

Some more of my other favorites are at My Best Makeup Removers Picks; and if you’d like more in-depth makeup help, check out my e-book, Makeup For Beginners.

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  1. I think it’s worth it to invest in a good makeup remover. I personally am using Laneige’s Professional Makeup Remover Refreshing Cleansing Oil. A few others I would like to try are Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil and Dove Cleansing Oil. I am a non-cleansing milk person, cos I feel that milk doesn’t clean off every trace as well. I also like cleansing oil because they can remove both eye and face makeup in one go when I am in the bath. Currently, Laneige makes my face feel soft, supple, not squeaky, yet clean, and totally not oily, such that I feel I don’t have to cleanse again. But as a good habit, I always use my cleanser after that, no matter how light my makeup is (I don’t apply foundation).

    1. Yep, a good makeup remover is vital! Thanks for all your recommendations, I have heard good things about the Bobbi Brown cleansing oil. Also, it IS good habit to cleanse after, no matter how light makeup you have on.

  2. I use Estee Lauder’s ‘take it way’ gentle cleansing milk to remove every trace of foundation, followed by clinique’s mild liquid soap, I do feel my skin is squeaky clean after that!

    1. Hey Nessa, welcome! And you’re telling me – I saw it in the store for over $100! However, at the store I pass they also always seem to be selling out fast. You gotta tell me why they are so popular/loved!

  3. Hi there! Thanks for solving my doubts. I was really concern if what I am doing is fine. I do have clearer idea of how ensure my makeup is removed properly now. I am gonna try if double cleansing works for me too and that’s really a cool way of removing mascara! By the way, for fear of getting the oil seeds you mentioned, I have invested in a makeup remover for eyes and lips. 😀

  4. I use Cetaphil on most days and then wash my face with a regular face wash. I also remove any traces with extra virgin olive oil and use it to moisturize my face at the same time! Oils like olive oil do not break out your skin, but they will dry it out if you leave it on there too long! It’s an inexpensive alternative to all those other pricier removal methods out there. I also like cold cream for waterproof makeup.

  5. Does anyone know of an eye makeup remover that can remove MAC’s Liquidlast eyeliner? I’m having a real hard time getting the stuff off! 🙂

    1. Oh yes, this one. It’s so tough to take off! Definitely get an oil-based, waterproof remover. I’ve also removed it with Vaseline.

  6. I tried Lilan Vital Cleansing Oil (by Cosway), it works wonderful, can remove water proof mascara and liquid eye liner. works like Shu Uemura cleansing oil! but much cheaper abour RM20 + for 100ml.

  7. Okay first i use a makeup removing bar soap. Then I use olive oil to remove the makeup from my eyes ( when i wash my face I try to avoid the eye area), after that I wash my face again to remove some of the oil from my face but this time I use neutrogena oil free acne wash. Then i moisturize.

  8. i use cleansing milk as my makeup remover and i use loreal dermo-expertise, i think it’s good~ but it’s kinda irritating because of the oil when you’re washing your face with water…?

  9. I use a 2 step routine:

    STEP #1: a waterproof makeup remover (Bifacil by Lancome) and cotton diskettes

    STEP #2: Trixera Clensing Gel by Avene with a loofah glove

    My skin is dry and sensitive, and I have no alternative to using waterproof makeup.

  10. coconut oil… i use coconut oil and it has been great.
    for mascara i just rub a little coconut oil on my finger tips and then i rub and let the coconut oil do its magic, it melts mascara of and then with a tissue you just clean it of easily.
    with eyeliner its a little harder. you grab a cotton (disposable) makeup aplicator (its like thouse you use to clean your ears) and you load it up with oil and then you jus wipe everything off easily.

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