Truthfully, there’s nothing better than coming home from work or a night out and removing all that makeup. It’s the most cleansing feeling — literally — and I enjoy it just as much as having fun applying foundations and blushes with my go-to brushes.

I mean, who could blame me, right? The feeling of using the best wipes, micellar waters, sensitive-skin-friendly cleansers and cleansing balms is quite unmatched — gently purifying the skin of makeup and the elements before we’re ready to dive into bed (with my silk pillowcase, of course).

I don’t have to tell you twice that, like many other beauty products on the market, there are hundreds of clones that all do the job — one way or another — of removing our makeup. But, here’s the hard truth: makeup removers were not created equal.

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“When looking for a makeup remover, it’s important to find one that best suits your needs,” Jasmin Winnie Stephen, a makeup artist with seven years in the industry, told the New York Post. “Whether it’s a wipe for fast and convenient removal, eye makeup remover for stubborn shades or textures, oil-based removers for waterproof or hard-to-remove products.”

Listen, I test beauty products on the regular. You should see what’s on my makeup vanity and standing upright on my three-tiered skincare cart. For that reason, I’ll only turn to the best makeup removers to ensure there isn’t any product buildup on my skin. They’re all highlighted below and I’m confident this is the only list you’ll need. For real.

For more, check out the in-depth FAQ section, backed by makeup artists, for more on makeup removers.

Click to jump to a specific section:

best makeup remover tested

Origins Checks and Balances Milky Oil Cleanser + Makeup Melter

Ulta Beauty


  • Void of strong fragrance
  • Removes makeup most effectively and quickly among all others tested
  • Doubles as a cleanser to present the skin with a clean base


  • Price may be unreachable for some

Until I tried the Origins Checks and Balances Milky Oil Cleanser + Makeup Melter, I felt like I always had leftover makeup residue on my skin and eyes. Elegant packaging aside, what’s inside the bottle is what counts. And, it’s pretty extraordinary.

It’s a gentle cleanser that’s super lightweight and always allows me to rid myself of every iota of makeup with one cotton round. Thanks to almond and rice oils, my skin feels soothed and the product literally melts onto my skin. There’s not an oily residue left over, though the product is, in fact, a milky oil cleanser.

Though a bit of a splurge, it’s versatile to use on the face and even the eyes, too, though I love resorting to the Origins Well Off Fast and Gentle Eye Makeup Remover ($30) in many cases.

Best Drugstore Makeup Remover

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Ultra-Soft Cleansing Towelettes

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Ultra-Soft Cleansing Towelettes


  • Effective at removing both face and eye makeup
  • Made from 100% plant-based fibers, so they’re especially gentle on the skin
  • Great for removing waterproof makeup


  • Not sustainable like some other options on this list, given the product type

The Neutrogena Makeup Remover Ultra-Soft Cleansing Towelettes are a fan-favorite beauty product for a reason. They’re gentle, easy to use and never break out my skin. Plus, they’re less than $15 and have nearly 100,000 rave reviews on Amazon alone for the one-and-done product.

Ideal for waterproof makeup, these alcohol-free wipes are made of 100% plant-based fibers that pat on gently to my skin whenever I use them. I love how travel-friendly they are and, though a bit stubborn for eye makeup at times, they effectively remove both my face and eye makeup after using both sides.

I’d recommend this option for anyone who’s seeking an affordable makeup remover that they can purchase in bulk. They’re effective, get the job done and hail from a trusted brand.

Best Makeup Remover for Eye Makeup

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover


  • Most gentle eye makeup remover tested
  • Removes makeup quickly
  • Excellent for sensitive eyes


  • Price may be unreachable for some

Meet the eye makeup remover I’ve been using for years: the Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover. From its packaging to its ultra-soft and lightweight formula feel, it’s a product I recommend to everyone IRL if they prefer using a cleanser to remove facial makeup and would rather splurge on something keen on removing all traces of mascara.

This oil-based makeup remover never leaves an ounce of eyeliner pencil or eyeshadow on my lids, either. It’s also formulated with an emollient mix, so it leaves the eye area hydrated. This is a huge plus in the brand’s favor because the outer corners of my eyes are *always* dry.

Additionally, its packaging makes it one of the easiest to use. Because there’s a hole at the opening’s center, it’s the perfect spot to insert a cotton swap to dip and then brush onto your lash area. Genius.

Best Makeup Remover Wipes

Patchology Clean AF Facial Cleansing Wipes

Patchology Clean AF Facial Cleansing Wipes


  • Most effective makeup wipes tested
  • Lovely and refreshing on sensitive skin
  • Don’t dry out


  • Higher-than-usual price for makeup remover wipes, though not a dealbreaker

The Patchology Clean AF Facial Cleansing Wipes have everything going for them: they’re hydrating, non-drying, effective at removing all makeup and refreshing on dry and sensitive skin. Though $18 to $20 is a higher price threshold than some other makeup removers on this list, this soft pouch ensures you’ll capture all your makeup in just one go.

Impressively, the wipes are wonderful for removing excess oil, sweat and product buildup, too. For this reason, they’re wonderful for removing makeup after you’ve been outside in the heat, humidity and pollution-ridden air (*cough, cough*, NYC), and I love how they remove makeup and allow my skin to feel well-balanced. Not to mention, each wipe is loaded with vitamin B5 for maximum moisture and folic acid to help purify pores. Ah-mazing.

Best Cleansing Balm

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm


  • Most effective cleansing balm for removing makeup and hydrating the skin
  • Versatile use case; it can cleanse, remove makeup and hydrate the skin
  • No strong fragrance or scent, and no greasy residue


  • Most expensive makeup remover on this list

The IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm is a makeup-removing option I certainly don’t want to say bye-bye to anytime soon. I’ve reviewed plenty of cleansing balms, including ELEMIS and Hero Cosmetics and, while both of those are incredibly hydrating, this cleansing balm is the best for removing makeup.

It’s a pretty penny but well worth it because I find myself reaching for it before I even apply makeup in the mornings. That said, it’s one of the most versatile solutions on this list — completely void of a strong fragrance or scent.

Even better, this creamy balm doesn’t leave an unwanted greasy texture on the skin. I’m completely obsessed, and recommend you investing in this formulation, without a doubt.

Best Micellar Water

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Gentle Peeling Water (2-Pack)

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Gentle Peeling Water (2-Pack)


  • Affordable and value-driven
  • Gently exfoliates in addition to removing makeup
  • Suitable for sensitive skin and on the eye area


  • Must use a cotton round or washable makeup remover cleansing pad for most effective results

Like most makeup-wearers, I’ve been using Garnier’s vast assortment of micellar water types for years. After trying them all (yes, all of them), I’ve landed on the best one that I won’t shy away from: the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Gentle Peeling Water.

You’re likely asking the same question I am, “why can’t I just use regular water?” It’s a valid point, but micellar water has plenty of benefits, like dousing the skin with much-needed hydration and containing ingredients that’ll remove skin and debris all the while.

I love how this product glides onto my sensitive skin, though you’ll have to use a cotton round. However, I’ve been enjoying the brand’s SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Eco Pads ($10) because I’m able to pop them into my washing machine when I’m finished for a more sustainable decision. Formulated with 1% PHA and glycolic acid, I appreciate the gentle exfoliation, too, as I typically stay away from anything with beads as those tend to irritate my sensitive skin.

Best Cleansing Oil

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil

Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil


  • Doesn’t leave an oily residue on the skin, despite being an oil
  • One of the most lightweight makeup removers tested
  • Safe on sensitive skin


  • Doesn’t remove makeup as quickly as some other options tested

I have to give it to Neutrogena because the brand is a clear-cut winner at making effective yet affordable makeup removers. Its Ultra Light Cleansing Oil is Neutrogena’s foray into the increasingly popular cleansing oil space and it took a quite fabulous leap, to say the least.

I love how this formulation doesn’t leave an oily residue on the skin, despite being an oil. I honestly can’t wrap my mind around that sometimes! In addition, it’s one of the most lightweight makeup removers tested and safe on my sensitive skin. Check and check.

While it takes more than one swipe to remove all of my makeup, it’s not a dealbreaker. Plus, given that it’s only $10, I don’t mind the restock.

Best Makeup Remover for Sensitive Skin

The INKEY List Oat Cleansing Balm

The INKEY List Oat Cleansing Balm


  • A standout for sensitive skin in particular
  • Cleanses the skin in addition to removing makeup
  • No harsh fragrances
  • Affordable


  • Takes a swipe more to remove eye makeup, though expected because of its cleanser formulation type

If there’s a maekup remover that my friends with sensitive skin ask me about, I’m sure to recommend The INKEY List Oat Cleansing Balm. For only $13, it’s void of harsh fragrances, doubles as a cleanser and was specially designed for sensitive skin in particular.

It melts away face makeup in just one swipe, though my eye area oftentimes needs more attention. However, because of how gentle it is (thanks, oat-infused ingredients oil!) I don’t mind the extra swipe or two.

Let’s dial it down to the ingredients, shall we? It contains 3% oat kernel oil, a rich, natural oat oil that effectively removes stubborn makeup and SPF whilst hydrating and moisturizing. It’s also said to support the skin’s hydration levels which I noticed from its first use; it always leaves my skin well-balanced.

Additionally, it features 1% colloidal oatmeal that helps soothe my skin and even reduce redness. Overall, it’s a standout product I’d recommend to honestly anyone.

Best Remover for Waterproof Makeup

Real Techniques Real Clean Eye Makeup Remover

Real Techniques Real Clean Eye Makeup Remover


  • Budget-friendly
  • Gentle yet one of the most powerful at removing stubborn makeup
  • No runny or “liquidy” feel

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect the Real Techniques Real Clean Eye Makeup Remover to have the power it did when I first swiped it onto my eye area. It removed my most aggressive mascara with one dash — and that dash was me gently tapping my eye area, not pressing down on it.

Aside from its affordable price tag, it’s incredibly gentle yet the best at removing waterproof makeup. There isn’t a too-liquidy feel to it as well, which is ironic because of its liquid composition. However, I always feel like the formula is concentrated onto my eye area without sliding off of it.

Though it’s not equipped for your face, I find that I only need a makeup remover for waterproof eye makeup; typically I don’t remove any “waterproof” face makeup. Because of how gentle, powerful and scent-free it is, Real Techniques has my vote for best to remove waterproof makeup.

An FAQ on Makeup Removers

Ahead, a team of makeup artist experts and board-certified dermatologists share what to look for in a quality option that’ll take the day away.

What type of makeup remover should I buy?

Selecting a makeup remover that addresses your particular skin needs is a primary target, above all else. “Micellar water is ultra-gentle and a great option for people with sensitive skin,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, told the New York Post. “Balms are a great formula for people who are dry.”

Additionally, he recommends foaming options as ideal for people with oily skin, while cleansing oils are useful if you have heavy or thick makeup on. 

Not to mention, there aren’t any particular ingredients to look for. The best makeup remover is based on your skin type and preference, above all else.

What’s the best way to properly remove makeup?

“Removing makeup can definitely differ depending on the amount of makeup your wearing; personally, I prefer using a cleansing balm or cleansing oil,” Stephen said.

“There’s no right way to remove makeup, but the one rule is to avoid excessive trauma to the skin,” Zeichner said. “Over-rubbing or scrubbing can lead to disruption of the outer skin layer, with loss of hydration and inflammation, which can lead to irritation.” 

Can I use a facial makeup remover on my eyes?

“While cleansing oils and micellar water can be used to remove eye and lip makeup, stubborn products may necessitate the use of dedicated eye and lip cleansers,” Brendan Camp, MD, double board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, told The Post. “Waterproof makeup may require the use of oil-based cleansing balms to completely break down the makeup residue.”

How can I avoid leftover makeup on my face the next morning?

Ah, a question we all want the answer to. Stephen recommends “double-cleansing” and following up with a toner (and then, your tried-and-true skincare routine) to ensure all makeup is properly removed from the pores.

“Usually, the first cleanse is with an oil-based cleanser, while the second is a different type of cleanser, like a gel, water-based or cream,” she explains.

And, according to Elizabeth Houshmand, MD, a double board-certified dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic dermatology, “performing a thorough cleanse with micellar water or a cleanser will make sure you are makeup-free.”

Dr. Houshmand also enjoys using thermal spring water after cleansing for overall hydration (but more on those recommendations below).

Oh, and try not to sleep in makeup, too.

What are cleansing oils?

Cleansing oils are made to effectively remove makeup without causing dry skin. “They are made with carrier oils that help break apart oil-based makeup, and emulsifiers that help water and oil mix and
facilitate the removal of residue from the skin surface,” Dr. Camp said.

What should I look for in a makeup wipe?

The worst feeling? Taking out a makeup remover wipe only for it to be dry. No, no, no. That’s unwanted.

“When searching for makeup wipes, look for packaging that will help keep them moist,” Camp recommended. “If makeup wipes dry out, they will not be effective.”

Also, consider wipes that are biodegradable, as they are more environmentally friendly. “Some wipes are marketed as effective for waterproof makeup; they may help remove more stubborn makeup,” per Camp.

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