A Smart Girl’s Guide to Taking off Makeup


makeup removalA few weeks ago I contributed to an article for the Huffington Post Lifestyle blog about the biggest mistakes people make when removing makeup. A lot of the article centered around improper usage of makeup wipes. Let me start off by saying I totally get the appeal of wipes. They’re so quick and easy, and after a long night out with a comfortable bed awaiting, it can be SO tempting to substitute makeup wipes for actually washing your face. But stop yourself right there. You should never use these wipes instead of facewash (if only I could go back to my 20-year-old self and tell myself that!) and here are the reasons why:

What’s the big deal with just using makeup wipes? They’re so easy and my face feels clean afterwards!

Hold on there. Makeup remover wipes can be quick, but improper usage can result in makeup residue smeared on the face and into pores. The ingredients in makeup can be inflammatory and can trap dirt and oil in the skin that leads to breakouts and redness, so it is super important that all traces of makeup be removed before heading off to bed. Makeup remover wipes are never to be used alone – think of the wipes as a first step that break down debris from your makeup products but you need the second step of cleansing and rinsing to wash the gunk of the makeup off fully. Choose a makeup wipe that is suitable for your skin type, and don’t forget to thoroughly wash your face with soap and water after using makeup wipes! Remember my post on the ultimate skincare cleansing regimen? Some women in Asia are so keen on getting their faces super clean that they even do the double cleanse method.

So does this mean I can’t use makeup wipes?

Definitely not! You just can’t use them alone as a substitute for actually washing your face. I use makeup wipes almost daily, especially on days that I use tinted moisturizer or foundation that really gets into my pores. My personal favorites are the Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes and the Cerave Makeup Removing cleansing cloths with ceramides that hydrate as you clean. These both do a great job of starting the makeup removal process, dissolving even mascara and thick foundation. Since I’m admittedly lazy, especially when I’m tired after a long clinic day, I like products that are very efficient. These makeup remover wipes are great at starting to break down stubborn makeup. I especially like the Cerave wipes because they are hydrating too! They leave my face feeling moisturized and ready for the next steps in my cleansing regimen.

OK but what about different skin types?

Depends on your personal skin type. Dry skin would benefit from makeup removal products that are alcohol-free that don’t strip the skin of moisture. Individuals with oily skin benefit from not using oil-based products that could contribute to acne breakouts. Patients with sensitive skin that are prone to acne, rosacea, or eczema would benefit most from hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products. Formaldehyde is a common agent found in several makeup remover products, but it is a frequent cause of skin allergies. If you notice that you are experiencing redness or burning of the skin after cleansing, it may be time to change your makeup remover.

Any special considerations for different parts of the face?

Yes!   Be mindful of the area of your face that you’re removing makeup from. The skin around the eyes is very thin and fragile, and scrubbing the area vigorously with a makeup wipe can damage the skin and accelerate wrinkle formation. Invest in a makeup remover that is meant to be used around the eyes, meaning fit for sensitive skin. Dip a cotton ball in the makeup remover or take the pre-soaked eye makeup remover pad and rest it on the eyelids for a few seconds to absorb the makeup remover ingredients before gently dabbing away the makeup. My recommendations for this one include the Neutrogena eye makeup remover lotion and the Simple Kind to Eyes remover pads, which contains nourishing ingredients like Vitamin E and B5. 

What is your regimen for taking off makeup at night?

Most days I start with my Neutrogena makeup remover pads to take off my makeup; on the rare days that I actually use foundation I add on the Nature Republic Chamomile Cleansing Oil to get the extra stuff off (my review of this thick oily makeup remover here). Then I wash my face using a foaming face wash that also removes makeup, such as the fresh soy face cleanser, or I use my Clarisonic Mia 2 a few times per week to get extra squeaky clean. Just a note about facial cleansing brushes: they can be excellent tools for removing dirt and sebum and unclogging pores, but overuse can result in dryness and irritation. If you already have sensitive or dry skin to begin with, I would recommend against using facial brushes and instead sticking to the more traditional soap and water.

That’s my makeup removing regimen but don’t forget all the other super important steps afterwards, outlined in my nighttime regimen post here.

Here are all the products mentioned in this post

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