The 12 Best Makeup Removers to Wipe Away Even Waterproof Mascara

Without Stinging Your Skin

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best makeup remover: a woman wiping off makeup from her eyes
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We love a good smokey eye look but what we don’t love is trying to wash it off at the end of a long day or night. Instead of scrubbing fruitlessly, only to still look like a raccoon, using the right makeup remover can literally melt even long lasting makeup away, leaving no trace on your face (or pillowcase). Since they come in multiple forms and formulations for different skin types, we'll help narrow down your search with the 12 best makeup remover options ahead.

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The Best Makeup Removers At A Glance


Best Overall

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

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Best for Sensitive Skin

Cetaphil Gentle Waterproof Makeup Remover

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Best for Stubborn Eye Makeup

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover

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Best Makeup Remover Wipes

Burt's Bees Micellar 3 in 1 Facial Towelettes with Rose Water

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Best Cleansing Balm

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

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How We Chose the Best Makeup Removers

When choosing the best makeup removers, we considered their ingredients and other important features like price, texture, scent and packaging. Additionally, we included some makeup removers we've used and loved throughout the years, as well as a few top-rated and highly reviewed options to round things out.

Best Overall

1. Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water


  • oil-, alcohol- and paraben-free
  • gentle on skin


  • can require multiple cotton pads per use


This micellar water by French brand Bioderma can be used on all skin types, including sensitive skin, for cleaning, removing makeup and soothing your skin, making it a multi-tasker you want on your counter. One reviewer said, “You will be amazed at how much gunk and dirt Bioderma will remove. I use several cotton pads with the Bioderma until the last pad is white. I let the Micellar water dry by itself on my face, then use my creams and serums, or apply my makeup. And it also removes makeup like magic. Including the most stubborn mascara and will NOT burn your eyes. Leaves your skin soft, plump, and hydrated. Super gentle.”

Best for Sensitive Skin

2. Cetaphil Gentle Waterproof Makeup Remover


  • dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested
  • fragrance-free
  • non-comedogenic


  • must remember to shake the bottle before using to activate the bi-phase formula


Tested by both dermatologists and ophthalmologists, this Cetaphil makeup remover is gentle enough to be used all over the face, even around the eyes. It’s oil and fragrance free, and non-irritating. It’s also formulated with antioxidant-rich ingredients like aloe vera, ginseng, and green tea to keep your face feeling cool and fresh.

Best for Stubborn Eye Makeup

3. Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover


  • very effective at removing waterproof eye makeup


  • a bit pricey


First thing to note about this makeup remover: You have to shake the bottle well before use to activate the double-action (aka bi-phase) effect of this makeup remover. The lipid phase lifts makeup, and the water phase cleans your face. Aside from that, it's a breeze. It’s lightweight, yet surprisingly effective and safe to use around your eyes—and even if you’re wearing contact lenses.

best makeup remover Burts Bees Micellar 3 in 1 Facial Towelettes with Rose Water

Best Makeup Remover Wipes

4. Burt's Bees Micellar 3 in 1 Facial Towelettes with Rose Water


  • made with super soft upcycled cotton
  • convenient to use on the go


  • has fragrance (if you're sensitive to that)

Burt's Bees

Some days (okay, most days), you’re looking for the quickest, easiest way to clean your face. Look no further than these Burt's Bees micellar wipes, which not only remove a full face of makeup but also can cleanse your face of dirt and oil in a pinch. They’re super soft against your skin, too, thanks to their 100 percent plant-based cloth, which comes from upcycled cotton T-shirts.

Best Cleansing Balm

5. Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm


  • vegan
  • cruelty-free
  • has a sorbet like texture to start


  • a bit pricey


You’ve heard of farm to table, now experience farm to face. This makeup balm is made with only naturally derived ingredients such as papaya enzyme, sunflower and ginger root oils and turmeric extract to exfoliate and lift and remove impurities and makeup. It has no parabens, synthetic fragrances or phthalates, and the jar is also 100 percent recyclable.

The Classic Makeup Remover

6. Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser


  • dermatologist-tested
  • is 50 percent moisturizer


  • has scent to it


Pond’s has been around since 1907, and you probably remember seeing jars of it on your mom’s (or grandma’s) dressers. The cold cream features a nourishing blend of oil and water that coddles your skin, while clearing it of any makeup or debris from the day. It’s so affordable too, that you won’t mind slathering it on your face morning and night.

Best for Oily Skin

7. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micellar Cleansing Water


  • oil-free
  • alcohol-free


  • requires several cotton rounds with each use

La Roche-Posay

This oil- and alcohol-free makeup remover was made for oily skin, and the micellar water removes dirt, excess oil and makeup while leaving the skin hydrated but not overly shiny. There’s also no rinsing needed—apply to your face with a cotton pad and you’re good to go.

Best for Dry Skin

8. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm


  • fragrance-free


  • can be heavy for some


Even though it comes in the form of a balm, once you put it on your face, it turns into a gentle oil that completely dissolves makeup and sunscreen. Like its name says, it’ll take the day off (of your face) but not strip it of moisture. One reviewer said, “It was very gentle and worked great! My skin is **extremely** sensitive, so I was hesitant, but this takes everything off and just washes it down the drain without a greasy feeling or stripping natural oils.”

The Internet Darling

9. Glossier Milky Oil


  • has pro-vitamin B5 to condition skin


  • small bottle


Combining micellar water and an oil mix, Glossier’s milky oil dissolves even waterproof eye makeup. You can use it with cotton rounds or squeeze some directly into your hands, and wipe away your makeup without aggressively rubbing or tugging on your skin. One reviewer said, “I used this daily on my somewhat heavy makeup, and it wasn't stripping, didn't feel like it was killing my face by stripping it but was hydrating it! FANTASTIC at getting my makeup off in just 1 swipe of a cotton round! 10/10.”

Most Moisturizing

10. Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser


  • comes with an extra bottle of exfoliant
  • no silicones or fragrance


  • some reviewers report stinging when it gets too close to your eyes

Drunk Elephant

Like butter, this cleanser melts makeup, sunscreen and dirt from your face. It’s formulated with fruit extracts and an oil blend to soothe and moisturize while it cleans. And the balm comes with a bamboo and charcoal booster you can use for extra exfoliation.

Best Cleansing Oil

11. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil


  • fragrance-free
  • easy pump applicator


  • some reviews said it may cause breakouts


Before double-cleansing became popularized in recent years, wiping oil on your face at the end of the day might have seemed crazy, but now we know it's actually a more effective way to remove makeup and sunscreen. This Japanese import uses organic olive oil, rosemary leaf oil and vitamin E to leave your skin feeling clean and soft without any residue.

Best Budget

12. Garnier Skinactive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Cleanser & Makeup Remover


  • Leaping Bunny certified as vegan
  • oil-, paraben-, fragrance-, sulfate- and silicone-free


  • may leave a residue


This budget-friendly pick is both a cleanser and makeup remover. The micellar water removes both face and eye makeup, and it’s paraben-, oil- and fragrance-free to be gentle on the skin. No harsh rubbing, no rinsing, just a nice, clean face.

What Should I Look for in a Makeup Remover?

The goal of a makeup remover is to get rid of your makeup without irritating your skin, stripping it dry or clogging your pores.

  • If you have oily skin: For oily skin, you don’t exactly want to add *more* oil on top. Things like micellar water are oil-free and pull makeup and dirt out of your skin without overly drying out your skin (and it doesn’t require rinsing). Oily skin is also more prone to breakouts, so non- comedogenic makeup removers, which don’t clog pores, can help stave off unwanted pimples.
  • If you have dry skin: Alcohol is a drying ingredient, so aim for alcohol-free removers. A remover balm is a good option for dry skin because it’s creamy in texture, and tends to have oils or moisturizers to nourish your skin as it cleans. If you like
  • If you have sensitive skin: Check the ingredient list for any harsh chemicals or additives that may cause an adverse reaction on your skin. A good bet is a makeup remover with natural or organic ingredients and one without any fragrances, which can be irritating to sensitive skin. Bonus is if there are soothing additions like aloe vera.

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Lesley Chen is a San Francisco-based freelance writer. In between walking up and down the city’s hills, she writes for a variety of outlets covering health, fitness and general...

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