Mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow — you name it! Everyone enjoys dressing up their eyes with some pigment, volume, and of course a good lift. But when the time comes to remove those gorgeous cat-eye flicks or flirty flutters, you’re faced with running, smudging, tugging and not-so-pleasant rubbing. To keep your eyes safe and your hair wellness at its peak, we’ve put together a trusty guide to help make your eye makeup removal process a lot smoother and a lot less messy. Ahead, our top five tips to live by.

1. Don’t Rub Harshly

It’s a natural reflex for us to want to scour our makeup off, especially when it’s stubborn around the eyes. But this approach works a lot better for shower tiles and kitchen counters! On your eyes, aggressive scrubbing is how you cause the most damage.

What to do instead: Use a cotton pad soaked with an eye makeup remover to swipe off your makeup in one shot and avoid applying too much pressure on the eyes, according to dermatologist Julie Karen, MD. Another dermatologist, Melissa Levin, MD, tells Elle that first leaving a remover-soaked cotton pad on your (closed) eyes in place for 30 seconds will break up the makeup. If you have waterproof makeup on (great for sad movies, not-so-great for removal), use an oil-based remover specifically formulated for those impossible-to-erase products. 

2. Cleanse After (Not Before) Removal

Chances are you’ll still have a bit of residue around your skin after removing your eye makeup, so it’s important to cleanse your face thoroughly afterward. "Your eyelashes need to be clean because they are protecting the eyes. They are nourished by oil glands and if those glands or the follicles are clogged, that can be a problem," ophthalmologist Rebecca Taylor, MD, tells BuzzFeed News.

What to do instead:  Once you’re done with the eye makeup remover, gently use a cotton swab along the area, and follow with your go-to cleanser (for cleansing tips, see tip #4 below).

3. Don’t Use Wipes

By now you’re well aware that the skin surrounding your eyes is ultra-sensitive and delicate. It’s one of the thinnest areas on your entire face, after all. Stay away from makeup wipes, no matter how convenient they are. “They contain preservatives to make them safe from a ‘freshness’ standpoint, but these same preservatives are not necessarily safe to leave on your skin,” Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology tells Marie Claire. Preservatives found in makeup wipes (e.g. formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, solubilizers, surfactants, and emulsifiers) can lead to irritation and inflammation. “The bad stuff tucked away inside of makeup wipes is housed in the cleansing ingredient so unless you follow your wipe down with a cleanser, you increase your risk of developing inflammation on your skin,” dermatologist Joshua Zeichner tells Glamour.

What to do instead:  Save yourself the time and save your skin the trouble by using a liquid eye makeup remover you can use with a cotton pad.

4. Swipe Cleanser in Only One Direction

Again, using a back-and-forth motion (like you would when you’re, say, ferociously scrubbing a red wine stain off your carpet) isn’t good for your eye skin -- it will stretch and tug at lash hairs and get product into your eyes.

What to do instead: Legendary makeup artist Laura Mercier suggests applying cleansing oil on your skin first then following with a cotton pad with more cleansing oil on it so you can swipe in one direction. This helps soften the area and loosens up makeup particles without having to apply pressure.

5. Use Waterproof Mascara Sparingly 

Everyone loves the durability of waterproof mascara, but there’s no denying it makes the makeup removal process a lot more challenging. If you can, try to save the waterproof formulas only for special occasions. If that’s not possible, read on below.

What to do instead: If waterproof mascara is non-negotiable for you (we understand!), help your lashes stay put by being diligent with application, according to makeup artist Suzy Gerstein, as told to She suggests starting with a base coat of regular mascara on your lashes for protection followed by a coat of waterproof mascara. This way the regular formula acts as a shield for your gorgeous lashes.


Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.