Here's How To Get Stubborn Makeup Stains Out Of Your Clothes

Nothing elevates your look like well-applied makeup. But as great as it is, makeup does have its downsides. One major one? It can stain clothes. In fact, how many times have you succeeded in pulling your white t-shirt over your head without leaving a blob of mascara or smudges of foundation or blush behind?


And giving makeup stains time to sink into fabrics is asking for trouble. "Try to remove all stains as soon as you notice them," Kadi Dulude, owner of cleaning company Wizard of Homes, told The Strategist. But how do we know the best way to remove them? Especially when, according to Tide senior scientist Jennifer Ahoni, different makeup compositions and ingredients may require different types of stain removers (via Reader's Digest).

If you've had a run-in with makeup stains, fear not. These handy tips coupled with some elbow grease can help you do some amazing damage control next time, even on — gasp! — lipstick stains.

The first thing to do after noticing a stain

When you get makeup on your clothes, the very first thing to do, according to The Spruce, is to scrape the excess off with a knife, a spoon, or the edge of a credit card. Refrain from rubbing, wiping, or brushing the stain off with your hand as that can force the makeup to settle deeper into fabrics. For powdered makeup like eyeshadow, bronzer, and blush, a lint roller can do wonders in lifting particles away (via Cleaning is Caring). Once any excess product is removed, use a damp absorbent paper towel to soak up what you can of the stain before pouring liquid detergent over it. 


If you're in a bind and don't have liquid detergent available, makeup wipes can work in a pinch to get smears off your clothes (via The Strategist). Using them to gently blot or rub fresh spills away is a popular trick used by makeup artists backstage at fashion shows. Keep in mind, though, that this trick only works on stains that haven't had time to set into the fabrics.

How to remove eyeliner and mascara stains

When eyeliner smudges transfer to your clothes, resist the urge to douse the affected area in tap water, Vogue advises. Ice cubes, in this case, can do wonders for both fresh and set-in stains. After scraping the top layer of the stain off the fabric, rub an ice cube over the affected area in a circular motion. To speed up the removal process spritzes of alcohol-based hairspray can help. Once the spot is dry, use a damp cloth to wipe away what remains of the stain.


Because they are made from oils, waxes, and dyes, mascara stains might need pre-treating with liquid laundry detergent, according to Reader's Digest. Detergent contains surfactants and enzymes, which are helpful in dissolving mascara stains. First, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to work the detergent into the stain and let it sit there for about 20 minutes. After that, douse the affected spot in hot water, and machine-wash it at the warmest temperature advised on the care label. Repeat the process up to three times, or until the stain is removed, before drying.

How to remove foundation stains

If you ever have a run-in with grease stains, such as those from an oil-based foundation, don't underestimate the stain-lifting power of good old fashioned shaving cream (via Apartment Therapy). To remove the stain, first squirt on a dollop or two of shaving cream and let it sit for ten minutes to let the cream break down the oil. After that, depending on the severity of the stain and the thickness of the fabric, you might have to do a bit of scrubbing. Then use a clean cloth to wipe off the shaving cream, rinse the stained spot off with cold water and throw the entire article of clothing into a quick run through a washing machine cycle.


According to Apartment Therapy, this tip is a good one to keep in your back pocket for the next time you fall in love with the last piece of clothing in your size at a store, but you notice it's stained with makeup. "Knowing that getting it out is as easy as a squeeze of shaving cream makes it a little less daunting to buy as is."

How to remove lipstick stains

According to Rms Beauty, lipsticks are typically made up of three primary ingredients: waxes, oils, and pigments. If the pigments are made of synthetic colors, the chances of you removing the stain are quite low, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't make an attempt.


After scraping excess product away, recommends applying a dry solvent such as mineral spirits or acetone to the stain in an adequately ventilated area. After tapping the stain with a soft-bristled brush, apply isopropyl alcohol to it and press it into the stain. Repeat until all of the color is removed. Follow that up with sprays of diluted dishwashing soap and an enzyme laundry detergent, before washing.

Petroleum jelly can also be used to lift lipstick stains (vis Rms Beauty). After coating a thin layer of petroleum jelly over the stain with your finger, treat it to a machine wash and let it air dry instead of drying it in a heated dryer. If the stain is still there, repeat the process or move on to a stronger solution. 


How to prevent makeup stains

While there are many ways you can try to remove makeup stains from your clothes, it would be easier to just prevent stains in the first place.

Setting sprays are a good option to keep your foundation in place, according to Beauty Secret Keeper. When spraying your face, hold the bottle at least 20 centimeters away and spray your nose, followed by your jawline, and then under your eyes. Waterproof eyeliners and mascaras will keep smudges to a minimum and prevent them from transferring to your clothes. To prevent your lipstick from smudging, place a piece of tissue over your colored lips and tap a small amount of translucent setting powder onto them. The powder will soak up excess moisture, helping the lipstick to stay put.


Makeup might do a great job of highlighting your best facial features, but it can also leave a mess behind on your clothes if you're not careful. Knowing how to prevent stains, as well as how to get them out of your clothes, can give you the reassurance to go bold with your future makeup looks.