Ah, makeup wipes. A topic that has sparked much debate in the skincare world. In my experience, though, the consensus among the experts I've spoken to is that they aren't great. Why, you ask? Well, it mainly has to do with how much rubbing is involved and the ingredients in the wipes. It isn't the best makeup remover, especially for certain skin types.
Don't take my word for it, though. Take Peter Young's advice on the matter. He's a board-certified dermatologist and Facet Skincare's medical director. "People with sensitive skin should avoid makeup wipes," he says. "Even the motion of wiping your skin can be abrasive and irritating if you do it often. Wipes also use cleansing agents just like face wash—but unlike face wash, the instructions do not include rinsing them off. This can be very irritating to your skin. Many makeup wipes also contain high levels of alcohol and other harsh ingredients, which can cause dryness and irritation of your skin."
If that wasn't enough to convince folks with sensitive skin to back away, Young has another tidbit for you. "The cleansing ingredients that wipes use to remove makeup may cause reactions," he says. "In addition, makeup wipes usually contain preservatives and added fragrance, which can cause allergic skin reactions like contact dermatitis."
Believe me, as someone who has had contact dermatitis, you'll want to avoid it at all costs. Even if you don't necessarily have sensitive skin, using harsh agents and large amounts of alcohol on your face every night probably isn't great anyway. I know you're now wondering what to use instead. Don't worry—we have you covered there, too. Keep scrolling for all the best makeup removers in every category (except wipes, thank you). Whether you like liquid remover, balm, or simple micellar water, there's definitely something for you.
The Best Liquid Removers
1. Paula's Choice Gentle Touch Makeup Remover
I love Paula's Choice because the products work and don't really cost an arm and a leg. This gentle makeup remover is great for sensitive skin, as it has calming aloe and green tea extract to soothe the skin while removing stubborn makeup.
2. Shiseido Waso Beauty Smart Cleansing Water
Shiseido's Smart Cleansing Water contains rice extract to help refine your skin's texture and a fermented complex that removes excess dirt, oil, and makeup while boosting hydration levels.
3. Fresh Kombucha Cleanser & Prebiotic Treatment
This cleansing treatment and Fresh's Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Toner ($45) are two of my all-time favorite products from the brand. Normally, I only like to drink kombucha, but when added to this makeup-removing cleansing water, it gives it a little something extra. Soapberry-peel extract in the formula also gently cleanses and removes without irritating your skin.
The Best Oil-Based Removers
4. Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil
Caudalie offers this antioxidant-rich cleansing oil that sweeps makeup away in one fell swoop. It's also loaded with hydrating and noncomedogenic oils like sweet-almond, grape-seed, sunflower, and castor oil.
5. Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser & Makeup Remover
Tata Harper products never disappoint—especially the brand's nourishing cleansing oil. It breaks down makeup so easily and leaves your skin feeling extra soft with ingredients like alfalfa, sunflower-seed oil, calendula, elderberry fruit, and green tea oil.
6. Luzern Labs Emulsion 6
This is definitely a splurgy option, but it's 100% worth it. Luzern Labs is my all-time favorite clean beauty brand, and this makeup-removing balm might be one of its best products. It blends six nutrient-rich oils that can act as a cleanser, mask, and glow oil. It breaks down makeup and other surface impurities in a jiff. For a spa-like experience every night, I'm willing to pay the extra dollars.
The Best Eye Makeup Removers
7. Glossier Milky Oil Waterproof Makeup Remover
This makeup remover combines micellar water and a weightless oil to create a dual-phase formula that works fast. Comfrey-root extract and pro-vitamin B5 add extra conditioning and freshness to the skin, too.
8. Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover
This Neutrogena option is a classic when it comes to eye makeup removers. I won't lie, even if I use a cleansing balm or oil, I still sometimes use this on my eye area to remove the rest of my mascara if there's any left. It works like a charm.
9. La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover
French drugstore brand La Roche-Posay has done it again with this waterproof eye makeup remover. The bi-phase formula consists of a water-based cleanser and gentle oils that you shake to combine and effectively remove stubborn eye makeup.
The Best Drugstore Makeup Removers
10. CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm
CeraVe is another classic drugstore brand that always gets the job done. This particular formula is effective and noncomedogenic and contains three essential ceramides to help skin maintain its natural moisture barrier.
11. Cetaphil Gentle Waterproof Makeup Remover
This oil-free waterproof makeup remover from Cetaphil contains soothing botanicals like aloe vera, ginseng, and green tea to remove makeup without irritation. It's great for sensitive skin and is easy on the delicate eye area.
12. E.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm
I'm not sure how E.l.f. does it, but every product is so good. The brand's Holy Hydration Cleansing Balm is no different. It's pretty easy on your budget and is formulated with extra-nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides to leave skin extra silky.
The Best Water-Based Makeup Removers
13. Bioderma Sensibio H2O
Every editor I know raves about this makeup-removing micellar water from Bioderma. Fatty acid esters in this formula naturally help rebuild the skin's moisture barrier to keep skin hydrated and bacteria out.
14. Milk Makeup Hydro Ungrip Makeup Remover + Cleansing Water
Packed with blue-agave extract, micellar technology, hyaluronic acid, and aloe, this gentle cleansing water grips onto makeup and removes it so easily. It can be used on the whole face, but it's especially good for stubborn eye makeup.
15. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water
This is another classic micellar water I still find myself reaching for from time to time. It's pretty basic but really gets the job done quickly and is pretty wallet friendly.
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.
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