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A woman using a cotton pad to remove makeup from her face.


How To Remove Makeup—The Easy Way

How to remove makeup is an important lesson to learn. Here, we introduce you to our best makeup remover cleanser and share an easy removal routine.

Waking up to a mascara-smudged pillow is not a great way to start off your morning. It’s an instant alert that your skin wasn’t quite as clean as you thought it was when you crawled into bed the night before. As foundation and mascara formulas have become more long-lasting over the years, that staying power has also made it a whole lot harder to learn how to remove your makeup at the end of the day—and actually get it off.

Besides making you do extra loads of laundry, when your makeup isn’t fully washed off, it can cause a host of problems for your skin. There’s a reason experts always recommend removing makeup before bed; leaving makeup on overnight can cause clogged pores and lead to breakouts. And while some cleansers are great for washing away dirt, pollution, and oil, they aren’t always able to take off all of your makeup. If you use the wrong formula around your eyes (in an attempt to remove waterproof mascara and eye makeup), for example, it can also be irritating and may not even make a dent in long-wear products. In order to give yourself a clean slate before you hit the sheets, you’ll need to switch up your cleansing and makeup removal routine. Ahead, find our guide to removing makeup—the right way.

How To Remove Makeup

The truth is, not every face cleanser is cut out for makeup removal. If it isn’t specifically formulated to take off foundation and waterproof mascara, for instance, chances are it won’t be able to do so. Hence, why makeup removers exist.

These (typically) liquid makeup remover formulas are meant to make removing makeup a cinch. You can just saturate a cotton pad with a makeup remover cleanser and sweep it over your face until your makeup look is history. Still, there’s a question our customers are always asking: How do you get makeup off without makeup remover? You don’t necessarily need to buy products just for makeup removal. There are cleansing formulas that can solve your “how to remove waterproof makeup” queries all on their own.

What Else Can I Use As Makeup Remover?

When it comes to removing makeup, our number one recommendation is an oil cleanser. To be more specific, Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil. While smoothing an oil onto your skin may not seem like the secret to getting clean, oil cleansers really work. This lightweight cleansing oil melts away dirt, makeup, and impurities.

Here’s how it works: The gentle cleanser transforms into a cleansing milk when you mix it with water, enabling it to dissolve your makeup—even hard-to-remove products. Its non-comedogenic formula contains a blend of botanical oils and leaves skin feeling soft, supple, and replenished. It’s also the perfect way to end your day, not only because you’ll go to bed with clean skin, but also because the oil cleanser is made to prepare your skin for nighttime replenishment.

Your Easy Makeup Removal Routine

Let’s answer ‘how to remove makeup’ once and for all. Follow these easy steps to wash away your favorite face, eye, and lip makeup products.

An image of Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil next to a canister of fresh lavender.

1. Start With Cleansing Oil

Grab Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil—this is its time to shine. Dispense three to four pumps in your hands and massage the cleanser onto your dry skin. Don’t skip your eye area; how to remove eye makeup and face makeup don’t have to be two separate lessons. Add water and massage your skin to emulsify the cleanser, then rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry.

As for how to remove waterproof makeup, you’ll want to take a slightly more targeted approach with waterproof mascara and other long-wearing products. Dispense two pumps of the same cleansing oil onto a cotton pad and press on the area for 10 seconds, then gently wipe outward. If you’re removing makeup from your eyes and lashes, keep in mind that you shouldn’t need to be rough to get your makeup off. The best makeup removers and cleansers will allow you to easily wipe away the product; that way, you won’t have to tug at your skin or eyelashes.

You can use cleansing oil to remove lip makeup, too. While lipstick is likely to wear off throughout the day, certain formulas will really stick around. A little oil cleanser can remove any color left on your lips and leave you ready to apply your favorite overnight lip treatment.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: Micellar water can also be used as the first step in your makeup removal routine. This rinseless cleanser is popular thanks to its ability to both wipe away makeup and cleanse your skin, making it a good alternative to makeup remover wipes.

2. Double Cleanse To Get Completely Clean

Your face may be makeup-free, but your makeup removal routine isn’t over just yet. While you can use a cleansing oil alone, we recommend double-cleansing. First, cleanse with your oil cleanser (check), then follow with a foaming cleanser. This allows your first step to really be focused on removing makeup, while the second is all about cleansing your skin. By separating these skincare steps, you’re able to be more thorough.

Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash

Take two pumps of Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash and work it into a lather. Massage the cleanser onto your damp face. The foaming formula with calendula and glycerin will gently lift away remaining dirt, oil, and impurities to help skin look and feel instantly refreshed and revitalized. Rinse off with lukewarm water, then move on to your next step.

Optional: Slough Away Dead Skin Cells

Exfoliating isn’t an everyday activity, but it should be part of your regular skincare routine. Once or twice a week, use a face scrub to remove dead skin. (Everyone has it.) Not only can exfoliating help your skin look brighter and feel smoother, but it can also help make your makeup look better. How? When there aren’t dead cells sitting on the surface of your skin, your face becomes a smoother canvas for your makeup products, allowing them to apply more evenly.

Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub is our top recommendation for this step. This exfoliant for all skin types gently exfoliates skin. Dab a small amount of the scrub onto your clean, damp skin. Massage it in upward circular motions before rinsing off.

3. Follow Up With Toner

One of toner’s key uses it to remove any lingering residue on your skin. While there shouldn’t be any makeup left behind—unless you missed a spot—using toner will ensure you don’t have any cleanser residue on your skin. Soak a cotton pad with Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner and smooth the alcohol-free formula onto your skin. This Kiehl’s best-seller will gently soothe and refresh your skin while providing an additional layer of cleansing.

4. Apply Face Oil

After multiple cleansing sessions (or even just one), nourishing your skin is a must. Midnight Recovery Concentrate Face Oil is the perfect complement to your makeup removal routine. The beloved face oil works to replenish skin at night when it’s most receptive to repairing itself from daily aggressors, so you can have more radiant, younger-looking skin by morning.

5. Don’t Forget To Moisturize

As your final step, bring back lost moisture with Ultra Facial Cream. This best-selling, customer-favorite provides long-lasting hydrating for soft, smooth, healthy-looking skin. The squalane-infused formula works for all skin types and is capable of helping to balance even skin’s driest areas.

Kiehl’s Expert Tip: When it comes time to apply your makeup again, cap off your skincare routine with the same moisturizer. Ultra Facial Cream is non-greasy and lightweight, which are qualities to look for in a moisturizer that can be layered under makeup.

Next: Removing your makeup before bed isn’t the only skincare habit you need to start. Here are Healthy Skin Habits To Start Now.

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