You Don’t Need Makeup-Remover to Remove Your Makeup

The worst part of wearing makeup is taking it off at the end of the day. Single-use makeup wipes and cotton pads are as expensive as they are wasteful, but most people see them as a necessary evil. Assuming your cleanser can’t remove makeup on its own, you need something that does. But here’s the thing: No matter what type of facial cleanser you use, it can remove makeup. All you have to do is apply it to a dry face.

Splashing water on your face before cleansing is probably second nature at this point, but it just makes your cleanser’s job harder—especially if you’re wearing makeup, sunscreen, or both. Neither of these dissolve in water, so that initial splash hangs out on the surface of your skin, forming a barrier between your cleanser and the stuff you want it to remove. When you apply it to dry skin, there’s no barrier, so the surfactants can easily dissolve your waterproof foundation and zinc-based sunscreen. All you have to do is rinse it away.

You can do this with literally any cleanser in any format—liquids, gels, foams, creams, and even bars all work great. Just pump or squeeze a generous amount of cleanser into your hands and massage it into your dry face for 30 seconds or so. (For bar soap, get a lather going under the tap first, then apply the suds to your face.) If you use a super gentle, bland cleanser, try dabbing a little on your eyes to dissolve mascara and eyeliner—it won’t drip into your eyes until you add water.

Your makeup should be pretty well dissolved at this point, but for extra insurance, run your fingers under the tap and use the extra water to emulsify the cleanser a little bit. You’re now ready to thoroughly rinse your face and pat it dry. If there are some mascara stragglers left, clean them up with a damp Q-Tip or washcloth.

This process is gentler, cheaper, and more effective than any other makeup remover I’ve tried. It reliably dissolves everything from minimal makeup to a full face without causing a surprise rosacea flare, which is more than I can say for makeup wipes and micellar waters. If you’ve been burned by makeup remover in the past—or just need an easy way to wash off your thick, greasy sunscreen—don’t keep spending money on products that may not help. Your regular cleanser is probably all you need.

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