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How to remove makeup without makeup remover wipes

Plot twist: There are even better ways to clean your skin at the end of the day!

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Apr 10, 2024 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Elise Griffin, PA-C
Man removing makeup with wipe
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Apr 10, 2024 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Elise Griffin, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article


You just got in from a night out with your besties and you’re exhausted and ready to turn in. Just then, you realize you still have to remove your makeup. What’s more, you’re out of makeup remover wipes.

At such a moment, you might be tempted to go to bed with makeup on. And while that may seem like the best option given the circumstances, sleeping with your makeup on might lead to your face looking and feeling dry the next day.

Fortunately, there are alternative—and even better—ways to remove makeup. Here, our licensed dermatology providers will guide you on how to remove makeup without makeup remover wipes.

Why is it important to remove your makeup?

If your makeup is free from pore-clogging ingredients, like non-comedogenic liquid blush and highlighter, it shouldn't contribute to breakouts. Right? Well, not necessarily.

Leaving makeup on your skin overnight can contribute to the buildup of oil, dirt, and makeup residue—which can make breakouts more likely.

It’s also important to remove makeup for your skincare routine to be effective; acne-treating and anti-aging products should be applied to clean skin, free from barriers like makeup.

The downsides of using wipes to remove makeup

Makeup wipes are super easy to use and a quick way to remove makeup, so we understand why they might be your preference. But while wipes may be convenient, they may not be the best choice for your skin.

Why? Well, first off, it’s hard to know how many makeup wipes you should use. Use too few, and half of your makeup remains on your face. Use too many, and your skin can become irritated. And that’s just the beginning. Here are some other potential downsides to using wipes:

  1. Wipes don’t really clean your skin. Many wipes are formulated to break down makeup—not to thoroughly cleanse skin. Because of this, they might not clean the skin as effectively as a regular cleanser or micellar water. What’s more, some may include ingredients that can clog your pores, leading to breakouts.

  2. Wipes usually contain potential allergens. Most wet wipes contain potentially allergenic ingredients such as fragrances that may be irritating to the skin.¹ These ingredients may affect the skin in different ways. For instance, many skincare products containing alcohol may contribute to skin dryness² and even disturb your skin’s natural barrier

  3. Wipes can irritate your skin. Over-exfoliation, which can be caused by harsh rubbing or scrubbing, can damage your skin and lead to redness or irritation.⁴ It may also lead to inflammation and worsen signs of premature aging. This is especially true

    around the eyes, where skin tends to be more sensitive.

  4. Wipes can lead to inflammation. Excessive rubbing combined with potentially harsh ingredients can irritate your skin even more and exacerbate the problem.

6 effective ways to remove your makeup without makeup remover

Though removing your makeup might feel like a chore, it’s a necessary one. Here are 6 of the best ways to remove makeup without wipes.

  1. Cleansing oil: You can use a non-comedogenic oil like jojoba or mineral oil, which, unlike coconut oil, don’t tend to clog pores. But when you use oil to remove makeup, use a very small amount, about the size of a pea. “If you have oily skin, you can still use a cleansing oil to remove makeup,” says Elise Griffin, a certified physician assistant at Curology. If you’re prone to frequent breakouts, we recommend using acne-friendly makeup. And don’t forget to cleanse, treat, and moisturize!

  2. Cleansing balms: These are salve-like, oil-based makeup removers. The oils dissolve heavy makeup products—even stubborn waterproof mascara—without stripping your skin. Just scoop a bit onto your fingertips and gently massage into your face using circular motions. Let it sit for a minute or two. Use a face wash with warm water to clean off balms.

  3. Moisturizer: In a pinch, you can also use certain moisturizers to remove makeup. As with oil, a little goes a long way! Use a warm-water-soaked cotton pad to remove the moisturizer. This seems counterintuitive because the very next step after washing your face is putting on moisturizer. But when you use moisturizer to remove makeup, it becomes dirty and full of makeup remnants.

  4. Micellar water: Micellar water is typically hydrating for dry skin. Dampen a cotton ball with micellar water and gently dab it over the eye area and face. If you’re removing tough waterproof makeup, hold the cotton ball over the area for 3 seconds before wiping it away. Micellar water is great because you generally don’t need to rinse it off. So, you can begin your regular skincare routine: cleanse, treat, and moisturize—sans makeup! If you’re interested in trying micellar water, check out the Micellar Makeup Remover by Curology—a dermatologist-designed makeup remover made for all skin types.

  5. Facial cleansers: There are different types of facial cleansers you may use to remove makeup from your face, including foam cleansers and cream cleansers. Each of these cleansers is ideal for different skin types. Foam cleansers are generally a good option for acne-prone and oily skin. On the other hand, cream cleansers are usually gentle and are therefore ideal for people with dry skin or sensitive skin.

  6. Double cleansing: The concept of double cleansing is exactly as it sounds—it entails using two different types of cleansers to remove makeup and other impurities from your skin. Our licensed dermatology providers recommend that you first use an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, and then follow it up with a foam or cream cleanser to remove any other impurities from your skin.

The key takeaways

  • Sleeping with your makeup on may make your face look and feel dry the next day. It may also hasten the skin aging process.

  • Most makeup remover wipes contain potentially allergenic substances such as alcohol and fragrances.

  • The ingredients in makeup remover wipes may lead to skin inflammation and irritation.

  • Alternative ways to remove makeup include using cleansing oil, cleansing balm, vaseline, moisturizer, or micellar water. Double cleansing is another effective skincare technique.

  • Lukewarm water and gentle soap may also remove makeup from the skin.

Beat breakouts with Curology

Instead of wondering how many wipes you should use, try one of the methods suggested here to remove makeup before catching some ZZZs. Better yet, you can opt to include Micellar Makeup Remover as part of your trial with Curology.*

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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When it comes to your skin, Curology is here to help guide you on your skincare journey. We take the time to understand the nuances of your skin and provide a personalized solution that’s designed to work (90.5% of patients saw an improvement in their acne at 3 weeks**). To sign up, just take a short quiz and snap a few selfies. We’ll take care of the rest. Your trial includes your personalized prescription formula*** with 3 active ingredients to target your skin concerns, plus our dermatologist-designed non-prescription products of your choice.


Why is it so important to remove makeup?

Sleeping with your makeup could result in irritation and clogged pores. To be on the safe side, you should remove your makeup before you go to bed. Doing so can help minimize the risk of developing skin blemishes, such as pimples, blackheads, and dryness.

Can you remove makeup with soap and water?

Bar soaps can be harsh on facial skin, but some may be fine to use. If you want to use soap, go with a gentle, fragrance-free variety, and avoid scrubbing with a washcloth. To remove your makeup using soap and water, wet your face using lukewarm water before massaging the soap into your skin. It’s not always easy to get mascara or other waterproof makeup off, so your best bet is to stick to a product specifically formulated for removing makeup.

How do you take makeup off without makeup wipes?

Some people believe that makeup wipes are the only ideal tools for removing makeup. However, that is not the case. You may remove your makeup using other substances, including cleansers, cleansing oils, cleansing balm, moisturizer, and micellar water. The best part is that these substances are friendlier to the skin compared to wipes.

How do I remove makeup from my eyes?

The skin around the eye is among the most sensitive on the body. As such, you should exercise caution when removing makeup from your eyes. While you may opt to use makeup remover wipes to remove the makeup from this area, it’s advisable to use more skin-friendly products such as cleansing balm, micellar water, and cleansing oil. These skincare products may effectively clean our skin, removing all traces of makeup.

Are wipes safe for removing makeup?

Most wipes may contain potentially allergenic ingredients that may do more harm than good to your skin. They may irritate your skin and even lead to inflammation. Moreover, wipes are designed for breaking down makeup rather than thoroughly cleaning the skin.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Aschenbeck, K.A. and Warshaw, E.M. Allergenic Ingredients in Facial Wet Wipes. Dermatitis. (2017, December 1).

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Dermatologists’ Top Tips for Relieving Dry Skin. (n.d.).

  3. Lachenmeier, D.W. Safety evaluation of topical applications of ethanol on the skin and inside the oral cavity.Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. (2008, November 13).

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to Safely Exfoliate at Home. (n.d.).

Elise Griffin is a certified physician assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies from Nova Southeastern University in Jacksonville, FL.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

**In a clinical trial of 150 Curology patients after 3 weeks. Self-reported.

***Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our thoughts on sun protection: *Sunscreen is only one part of UV protection—cute sun hats and shades are also recommended.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Elise Griffin, Physician Assistant Curology

Elise Griffin, PA-C

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