I have a love-hate relationship with makeup removal. In theory, it's the best. I look forward to it after a long day of wearing foundation, concealer, blush, and mascara. It feels like I'm rinsing away the day. Plus, revealing fresh, clean skin is such a delight when I get to top it off with my favorite skincare products.
In practice, though, I dread it. I'm often tired when it comes time to do it, and standing in front of the sink while scrubbing at my face sounds less than appealing, especially if I'm stuck with a product that doesn't do the job. There's nothing more annoying than putting in the time and effort to properly remove makeup, only to see streaks and smudges on white towels.
However, don't be duped into thinking you have to spend a lot of money in order to find a makeup remover that, well, removes makeup. You don't. In fact, some of the best ones are from the drugstore. For proof, keep scrolling to see the 14 best drugstore makeup removers, according to me (a clean skin–obsessed beauty editor) and the internet.
What to Look for in a Makeup Remover
First and foremost, you need to know what to look for in a makeup-removing product. Obviously, you want it to work, but you also want it to suit your skin type and your specific skin concerns. Here's a good rule of thumb to follow. Dry skin? Try an emollient cleansing oil or balm. These can dissolve makeup while giving the skin much-needed moisture. Oily or acne-prone skin? Ditch the oils and balms and reach for a lightweight, oil-free formula instead (such as micellar water). These can whisk away makeup without clogging pores. Normal or combination skin? Try both and choose whichever experience you like better.
Ahead, see the 14 best drugstore options, regardless of skin type or texture.
Overall Best: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
This iconic French pharmacy product is beloved by makeup artists and beauty editors alike since it effectively removes makeup without leaving a trace behind. It's also incredibly gentle on the skin and requires no rubbing. It's all thanks to micelles or tiny clusters of mild surfactants that are suspended in water. They whisk away makeup without leaving a greasy or oily residue behind.
Promising review: "It's gentle and didn't irritate my dry/combination skin which can be very sensitive at times. It didn't leave an oily residue on my skin and left it feeling nice and fresh looking. It took off my makeup easily and performed better than the makeup wipes I use. I am really impressed with this product and will start using it more often." — Bioderma customer
E.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm
This cleansing balm starts out solid, but the second you start massaging it onto the skin, it melts into a luxurious milky texture. It's a dream product for dry skin thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides.
Promising review: "I got this to start double cleansing—it hasn't broken me out, works well, and I think it smells nice so no complaints here; especially concerning the price compared to other cleansing balms." — Ulta customer
Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm
With no artificial fragrance—just a delightful scent due to naturally antibacterial eucalyptus and clove oils—this cleansing balm works like others that are double (if not triple) its price. The best part is that it doesn't leave a thick residue behind like other cleansing balms; it rinses away easily with a milky texture.
Promising review: "This is the best cleanser I've ever used. I have sensitive eyes and this does not hurt them. Plus, it removes my makeup." — Versed customer
CeraVe Comforting Eye Makeup Remover
This eye makeup remover is incredible. First off, it's ophthalmologist tested and suitable for sensitive skin and contact wearers. Second, its lightweight, milky texture removes even the most stubborn waterproof makeup. Third, it doesn't leave even a whisper of residue behind.
Promising review: "This eye makeup remover is one of the best I have ever used. There is no scent making this perfect for sensitive skin! … I wear waterproof mascara, and it removes the mascara with ease, and I do not lose tons of lashes like with most makeup removers." — Ulta customer
Bliss Makeup Melt Jelly Facial Cleanser
This all-in-one makeup remover and face cleanser uses soothing rose extract to make skin feel soft, smooth, and clean. To use it, simply massage it into dry skin with a cotton round and then add water. You'll be able to watch your makeup melt away.
Promising review: "Based on reviews, I tried this and I'm very pleased. … I had to wash my face twice to remove makeup previously, but now, I can get it all in one go." — Amazon customer
Byoma Melting Cleansing Balm
Not only is the packaging super cute, but this cleansing balm is also super effective. It's formulated to remove makeup while also supporting the skin barrier, and it does so with a combination of good-for-skin oils like olive, sea buckthorn, and grape-seed.
Promising review: "I love the smell and texture, and it doesn't leave a film in my eyes." — Target customer
Neutrogena Oil-Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
If you have sensitive eyes that tear up when you use makeup remover, you need to try this. It's oil-free and incredibly gentle, yet it removes stubborn eye makeup (even waterproof formulas). I like using it when I wear eyeliner on my waterline. It dissolves it away without causing redness or irritation.
Promising review: "This is my favorite waterproof makeup remover. It's very gentle on my skin and eyelashes, and it doesn't leave any residue like some other brands." — Target customer
The Inkey List Oat Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm
Okay, this technically isn't a drugstore brand, but you can get it for a drugstore price, so I'm counting it. It's formulated with 3% oat-kernel oil and colloidal oatmeal, so it moisturizes the skin while visibly reducing redness and irritation. Plus, the texture is soft and rich, so it feels like a luxe experience even though it doesn't have a luxe price tag.
Promising review: "This made removing my makeup so much easier. It literally melted my makeup, and I didn't have to use much product, and it kept my skin from needing to be scrubbed." — Sephora customer
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser
Another micellar water, this one costs less than a morning latte, yet it's gentle enough for even sensitive skin types. You can use it on your face, eyes, and lips with zero irritation.
Promising review: "I've just started to get into makeup, and this micellar water is great at removing any makeup. It even removes waterproof eyeliner, which is nice. I'll definitely repurchase." — Target customer
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Cleanser & Waterproof Makeup Remover
This version of Garnier's micellar water is specifically formulated for use on waterproof makeup. So if you regularly wear sweatproof foundations, waterproof mascara, or any other tough-to-remove product, this one's for you.
Promising review: "I used to always get the regular micellar water, and my under-eyes were always still a little dark even after removing my mascara, then I tried this one, and OMG the difference is insane. My under-eyes are so much brighter, and they feel softer and less rough, which also helps when I use concealer." — Ulta customer
CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleanser Balm
The star ingredients in this cleansing balm are jojoba oil and ceramides. They both work to dissolve makeup while moisturizing the skin and supporting the skin barrier. I like that it's fragrance-free, which makes it gentle for sensitive skin types.
Promising review: "I like using this at the end of the day, even just to remove sunscreen! This works great as the first step to my double-cleansing along with CeraVe's hydrating cleanser. I was worried this product would irritate my sensitive and acne-prone skin, but it was extremely gentle and helped cleanse my skin without irritation. A little goes a long way in removing my makeup." — Amazon customer
Cetaphil Gentle Waterproof Makeup Remover
This makeup remover is dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested, so it's gentle enough on sensitive skin—even redness-prone skin like mine. It even has aloe vera, ginseng, and green tea extracts for extra soothing powers.
Promising review: "I love this stuff. It's so gentle on your eyes and strong enough to remove waterproof makeup. It's the only makeup remover I buy!" — Amazon customer
Acure Seriously Soothing Jelly Milk Makeup Remover
With jojoba oil, arnica, chamomile, and sodium hyaluronate, this product does more than remove makeup (although it does that very well). It also moisturizes, soothes, and plumps the skin.
Promising review: "I thought that this product was great and made my skin feel squeaky clean after wearing makeup. I didn't have to double cleanse, which I really liked." — Target customer
La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water for Sensitive Skin
Honestly, classic French skincare brands just do micellar water best, and this one from La Roche-Posay is no exception. It's formulated specifically for sensitive skin, so rest assured it will remove makeup without adding irritation into the mix.
Promising review: "I've been using this micellar water for years. I'm a fan of the brand overall, but this water is just amazing. It removes makeup super easy and quickly, but your skin isn't irritated or left dry. I have very dry skin and am sensitive, so for me the after-feeling is important. This water does it all. Highly recommend!" — Amazon customer