How to Remove Makeup: 6 Different Methods, Ranked 

Stubborn eye makeup not coming off at night? We’ve been there. With a variety of options to remove make-up ranging from wipes and cleansing tools to oils and balms, this simple step can seem daunting. In this article, we go over how to remove makeup with a variety of products and tools, and rank these different ways from worst to best.

6. Makeup Wipes

Honestly, make-up wipes were a fail for me. I used the NuFace Prep-and-Glow Wipes. These wipes were a bit more luxurious than your typical drugstore find; they had a soft removal side and a gentle exfoliating side, but they still weren’t able to complete the job.

I applied the sheet and began to rub with the smooth removal side on dry skin. I turned it over after seeing a significant amount of makeup come off, and tried lightly scrubbing my face with the exfoliating dots. Unfortunately, the harsh rubbing made my skin red – and I still woke up with traces of mascara under my eyes.  

In addition, I couldn’t help but think about how much waste using one of these each night would cause over time. Since these are individually packaged, I can see how they could be a great back-up to throw in your purse for a late night out or quick refresher on a flight. However, I think we can do better to remove makeup at home.

5. Double Cleansing with Micellar Water

Not going to lie – I was really excited about trying micellar water after reading about its gentle removal properties. I tried two different micellar waters from Acure and Nuria. For this method, I first used the micellar water soaked in a cotton round to wipe away as much makeup as possible and then proceed to cleanse my face by hand.

The Nuria micellar water felt a little alcoholic, with a stinging property on first application, and made my skin red when applied with cotton rounds. On the upside, this brand’s micellar water left no trace of makeup the next day. By contrast, the Acure micellar water had a more neutral scent and feeling when applied. It didn’t seem to have the strength of the Nuria micellar water, but it agreed more with my somewhat sensitive skin.

Overall, I liked the lightness of the Acure formula better, but found that it did not completely remove makeup. I saw mascara residue near my eyes when I woke up. All in all, I found the double cleansing method to be a little fussy for my sensitive-ish skin. It might be a better option for someone with oily skin that has more makeup residue or skin oils at the end of the day. 

4. Traditional Hand Wash

I’ll never forget learning how to clean my face with a soap bar in the fifth grade “growing up” lesson. Thankfully, my methods have now changed, but cleansing this way was a standard for quite a few years. While it’s not the most effective or glamorous, washing your face by hand works.

I used my normal Sephora Collection Clean Skin Gel (I highly recommend) and applied dime shaped amount before rinsing. My skin felt squeaky clean but I did notice the faintest shadow of leftover makeup under my eyes.

Generally, we don’t recommend cleansing with hand wash as it has a tendency to strip natural oils of the skin and cause pH imbalance if used improperly. Look for a facial cleanser instead, and always follow with a moisturizer to prevent drying out the skin.

3. Silicon Cleaning Tools

Remember when Clarasonic pioneered the spinbrush tools with the Mia cleanser? The interest in using high technology tools for makeup removal has continued years after. I tried the meejee, a silicon massager that uses sonic pulses to exfoliate and cleanse.

The meejee works like a supplement to a traditional hand wash. I wet my face, applied cleanser to the head of the meejee, then I turned on the vibration and brushed the tool in a circle against my face. This process creates a deep lather and helps makeup release with the light motion.

I was really impressed by the pocket sized tool. The pulse intensity is adjustable and the gentle massage made my skin feel softer while still erasing all of my stubborn mascara. I did note though that the meejee requires a little more cleanser than I’d use normally to get a nice froth going. This is a perfect tool for everyday use.

2. Muslin Cloth

I am so surprised by how much of a win this is in my eyes. The muslin cloth is gentle and quick drying, but it also has an element of light exfoliation from the natural weave of fibers. There is something inherently spa-like about a hot cloth draped over your skin.

I first wet my skin and applied a cleanser like normal. Instead of just rinsing off though I steeped the muslin cloth in hot water and folded into a ¼ of its full shape. Then, I passed the cloth over my skin in small circular motions, exerting medium pressure. The light exfoliation was just enough to freshen up my skin without irritating it. I repeated the passing over process about 3 times and felt both more relaxed and much more makeup free. I woke up without a trace of makeup and was impressed that the cloth itself didn’t stain at all.

1. Makeup Cleansing Balm

I’m so blown away by how easy a cleansing balm was to use. I used the much raved-about Farmacy Green Clean Balm. Once in contact with the heat of my face, the balm began to melt into my skin, and I gently massaged my face to remove makeup – without the harsh scrubbing that other methods require. My skin felt soft after rinsing the product. Plus, I woke up without a trace of left over makeup, so easy!


The verdict is in: cleansing balm is the best method to remove makeup. Muslin cloth comes in at a close second, a relaxing but more involved way to cleanse and lightly exfoliate.

Find the best cleansing balms for your skin type and customize your search by skin goals, ingredient safety preferences, and more! 🙂

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