Makeup Removers Always Inflame My Sensitive Skin, So I Asked Derms for 12 Recs


(Image credit: @shawnasimonee)

If you have sensitive or reactive skin, even removing your makeup can feel like a risk and a chore. I'm definitely speaking from experience when I say this. As someone with sensitive, acne-prone skin, finding makeup removers that work without irritation hasn't always been easy. After some trial and error, I finally found a few solid balms and micellar water removers that truly work wonders. However, what works for my skin may not necessarily work for others. That's why I called in the experts. I asked two dermatologists for the best makeup removers for sensitive skin types. Board-certified dermatologists Azadeh Shirazi, MD, and Lauren Penzi, MD, share some insight below. Keep scrolling to see what they said.

How to Remove Makeup Without Damaging the Skin

If you have highly sensitive skin that reacts to things easily, Penzi says it's important to do an at-home patch test before using anything new. "Take your new product and apply a small amount to your inner forearm for about two to three nights in a row," she says. "If no reaction occurs, then you should feel comfortable to start using the product on your face."

You'll also want to avoid rubbing, tugging, and pulling at your skin too hard when removing makeup, as this can also cause irritation. There are also a few ingredients sensitive folks might want to avoid. "Fragrance is definitely the first thing to avoid, as this is the most common irritant and contact allergen," says Penzi.

"Preservatives are another thing to watch out for. Some common ones in cosmetic products include Methylchloroisothiazolinone/ Methylisothiazolinone (aka Kathon CG) and parabens. Be sure your makeup remover has no retinol or retinoid products in it because that can certainly be irritating. Also, watch out for formaldehyde releasers in your makeup remover and other potentially irritating ingredients like tea tree oil."

Overall, Shirazi recommends using gentle micellar water for those who are sensitive. "Micellar water is soap-free containing tiny micelles (oil molecules) that dissolve and remove dirt, makeup, and oil. It's light and great for those who have oily skin or are prone to milia and clogged pores. It's safe to use around the eyes and very gentle for those with sensitive skin." Take a peek below for some of their favorite formulas.

Best Overall: Bioderma Sensible H2O Micellar Water

2. Albolene Face Moisturizer & Makeup Remover

3. Living Libations Best Skin Ever Sea Buckthorn Facial Cleansing Oil

4. Cetaphil Gentle Makeup Removing Wipes


(Image credit: @spicy.mayo)

5. L'Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water

6. CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

7. La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water

8. Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm


(Image credit: @anaasmood)

9. Paula's Choice Gentle Touch Makeup Remover

Best Eye Makeup Removers for Sensitive Skin

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

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Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.