The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Removing Makeup

how to remove makeup

We’ve all had those nights where we pass out with a full-face of makeup on. Whether we were up late binge-watching Netflix, tending to a fussy baby or out with the girls, hopping into bed with a full beat feels fated sometimes. And while we may swear it won’t happen again – since waking up to crunchy eyelashes, smudged pillowcases, and the feeling of a monstrous zit forming is literally the worst – most of us are bound to repeat this beauty blunder.

That’s why we chatted with the skin pros to see just how bad it is to forget to wash your face at night. Plus, we picked their brains about their best makeup removing hacks and product recommendations that will make getting ready for bed a breeze. Lazy girls, rejoice: Here’s your guide on how to remove makeup as fast and with as little effort possible.

Oops, I fell with makeup on… How bad is it *really* for my complexion?

We’re not going to sugarcoat it – going to bed with makeup is not ideal. “Sleeping in your makeup is just as bad as going to bed without brushing your teeth after binging on dessert,” explains Shasa Hu, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist and co-founder of BIA Life. “The layers of chemicals to preserve the makeup, the minerals and metals to add color, and the additives to help the makeup stay on the skin can clog pores, irritate skin, and may even cause an allergic skin rash if left on for too long.”

Dr. Hu also adds that makeup can react to the skin’s natural oils and become a “fertilizer” for bacteria, leading to acne and folliculitis. However, if it was a one-time thing, there’s no need to panic. “Sleeping with your makeup on just once in a while will not necessarily hurt your skin, but if you are prone to poor congestion, clogging, and acne it might exacerbate it,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology.

Okay, so what’s the fastest way to get everything off?

Two words: cleansing balms. “I love them,” says Dr. Fusco. “My latest favorite is from Beautycounter – in less than 30 seconds it melts makeup, wipes off with a damp cloth, and rinses away any residue.” Not only do balms remove makeup, but they also leave your complexion hydrated, so there’s no need to follow up with night cream (win-win!).

If you have a little more time to spare, the best option to remove everything quickly is to double cleanse with an oil (or a balm) and then a foaming cleanser. “The concept of ‘like attracts like’ applies to skin care, so instead of using harsh chemicals to strip off the makeup and oil (especially water-resistant or smear-proof makeup), massage two to three pumps of face oil onto your dry skin first to melt away the makeup colors and chemicals,” suggests Dr. Hu. “Makeup removing oils are much gentler on your skin than wipes with chemicals, and contrary to popular belief, most oils do not clog pores.” Follow with a foamy wash to guarantee every last fleck of foundation is out of your pores before hitting the sack.

But what about makeup removing wipes?

Breathe a sigh of relief, towelettes are in fact an effective way to remove makeup. However, think of them as a fallback plan rather than an integral part of your nightly routine. Unless you take the time to wipe away every last trace, which often requires using more than one towelette, then you’re not doing much for your skin. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose? Plus, they don’t thoroughly cleanse the gunk from your pores.

According to Dr. Hu, they can also cause irritation. “The residue from makeup wipes are not the best for your skin in the long run, but it is still much healthier for your skin than [leaving the makeup],” she explains. “Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, the residual chemicals from wipes, which are usually surfactants, antibacterial compounds. and stabilizers, will increase skin sensitivity and can even lead to dermatitis.” Choose a pack that’s both fragrance- and alcohol-free to cut back on the risk of irritation. And remember, just say no to going too towelette happy.

So, what are the best makeup removers?

Speed up your pre-bed ritual with one (or more) of these effective makeup removers.

1 Best Wipes: M.A.C. Cosmetics Gently Off Wipes + Micellar Water ($30;

Take the advice from someone who is always applying makeup like Romero Jennings, M.A.C.'s Director of Makeup Artistry, and opt for wipes that are infused with micellar water, which is known for its ability to remove makeup, cleanse, and tone without alcohol. “They’re really a game changer when it comes to makeup-removing products,” he says. “These are soft and gentle yet take away any traces of waterproof makeup.” Another trick? Stash a mini pack in your carry-on suitcase. “Especially after a long flight, I use the wipes to cleanse, freshen, and hydrate my face,” Jennings continues. “People always ask why skin looks so great after traveling and that’s my secret.

2 Best Balm: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($30;

This balm transforms into an oil and then into a milk to thoroughly melt off your makeup, dissolve debris, and loosen dead skin cells. The best part: It won’t leave skin feeling greasy. The formula works for all skin types, and it will leave yours silky-smooth and radiant after rinsing.

3 Best Oil: Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil ($34;

Fans of double cleansing should start with this oil. “It has argan oil and grape see oil to nourish the skin while melting away makeup and dirt,” says Dr. Hu, and the all-natural formula also works to restore skin’s natural moisture barrier and pH balance. “The pump system makes it easy to use — plus, the yummy smell is all natural.” Dr. Hu adds.

4 Best Eye Makeup Remover: Klorane Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover With Soothing Cornflower ($16;

Sleeping in eye makeup does more than dirty up your pillowcase — it's not great for your lashes and the sensitive skin around your eyes. This formula is made to quickly (keyword) dissolve even the most budge-proof eyeliners and mascaras but is still super-gentle on the eyes.

5 Best Targeted Remover: Lashfood Chamomile Makeup Eraser Pen ($18;

Upgrade from a Q-Tip dipped in remover and sweep away any lingering eyeliner or mascara with this eye makeup-busting pen. Its pointy tip lets you cleanse underneath lashes and along the waterline while its soothing chamomile and vitamin E formula prevents irritation.

6 Best On-The-Go Option: Neutrogena Individually Wrapped Makeup Remover Wipes ($8;

“These single packets of towelettes are great for travel,” says Dr. Hu. “You don’t need to worry about the whole packet drying out and you can pack exactly the number of wipes you need.”

7 Best Eco-Friendly Buy: Makeup Eraser Color Riot 7-Day Set ($20;

Cut back on beauty waste and save time by swapping these colorful reusable pads into your nighttime routine. They’re covered in tiny fibers that remove all your makeup (including waterproof mascara!) once they’re activated with water. No cleanser or remover required. Seriously, does it get any easier than that?

You might also like: The Best Nighttime Routine For Youthful-Looking Skin

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