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  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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How to take off your eye makeup the easy way

Clean away mascara, eyeliner, and more, without any rubbing or tugging

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Feb 28, 2024 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Elise Griffin, PA-C
Makeup Removal Makeup Wipes
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Feb 28, 2024 • 10 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 want your eye makeup to stay in place without budging, flaking, or wearing off throughout the day. But at the end of the day, long-lasting makeup can be a real hassle to remove—especially if all you want to do is jump right into bed.

The skin around your eyes is delicate, so treating your eye makeup removal process with care and diligence is important. That means always removing your eye makeup at the end of the day, no matter how tired you are.¹ Leaving your makeup on while you sleep can contribute to breakouts, depending on the ingredients in your makeup, and it can also dry out your skin.

Think about it: Makeup is the last layer on your skin. Under your makeup, depending on your skincare routine, you may have moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, and/or sunscreen. Not to mention waterproof mascara!

These can potentially trap oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells—all contributors to acne.²

5 steps for removing makeup easily and safely

It’s not as easy as simply scrubbing until your makeup comes off. Instead, take your time and be gentle.³ The best way to remove makeup on sensitive skin after a long day is to use products that remove tough makeup without tugging and pulling your skin.⁴

Here’s how to remove makeup around your sensitive eye area without damaging your skin.

But first: before you begin, wash your hands to avoid getting any dirt or bacteria in your eyes.

1. Choose the right products

Not all eye makeup removers are created equal. And makeup wipes, well, don’t always work! A micellar makeup removeris a more gentle option. Dermatologist-approved for acne-prone skin, micellar water is a cleanser, makeup remover, and moisturizer. It does this with micelles, tiny oil molecules suspended in soft water with hydrophilic (water-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repelling) properties.

You might say micellar water works like a magnet. It removes makeup (even waterproof makeup!) and buildup from the skin’s surface without stripping its natural moisture. To use, dampen a clean cotton pad with micellar water, apply it to the skin with a gentle rub, and repeat as necessary to remove makeup.⁵

When looking for a makeup remover, select a product specifically designed for eye makeup removal. It’s important to choose one that is gentle and hypoallergenic. Research shows that oil-based makeup removers can have a negative impact on your eyes, so you might want to avoid oil-based removers if you have sensitive eyes or are prone to dry eye symptoms!⁶

Also, some oils like coconut oil are comedogenic,⁷ which means they can clog your pores, and clogged pores can lead to acne. So it’s best to avoid them!

2. Be gentle

When removing your eye makeup, do it softly and with care. Rubbing too hard can irritate your eyes. Think of it like giving your eyelids a gentle massage. This not only helps in cleaning but can also be good for the health of your eyelids.⁸

3. Wipe

Use the cotton pad to gently wipe away eye makeup from the inside corner of your eyes outward. When removing mascara, begin at the base of your lashes and wipe to the tips.

4. Get the edges

A frequently missed area is the inner corner of your eyelids, where your liner and mascara meet. Soak a cotton swab with micellar water and use it to break up eye makeup along the lash line. Gently wipe away, taking care to not break your lashes.

5. Rinse and cleanse

Washing your face should be part of your nighttime skincare routine. But just in case it’s not, we recommend cleansing after applying makeup remover. (Here are some of our favorite gentle cleansers, depending on your skin type.)

After you remove your makeup

Your nighttime skincare ritual should include cleansing, treating, and moisturizing your skin to treat any problem areas and keep your complexion looking healthy. It may seem exhaustive, but it’ll only take about 10 minutes, promise. Your future self will thank you!

1. Cleanse

Whether using a makeup remover or removing eye makeup with micellar water, you’ll need a good face wash. Use a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. Massage a pea-sized drop of cleanser into your face and rinse. Be sure to use a soft towel to pat dry instead of rubbing.

2. Treat

Use a serum or cream formulated to treat your unique skin based on your skincare goals. Fighting acne? Over-the-counter acne-fighting ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and adapalene. These ingredients help battle against acne-contributing bacteria and unclog pores.⁹ Check with your dermatology provider to find out which one you should use to achieve your skin goals.

3. Moisturize

End your routine with a moisturizer for your skin type. Keeping your skin hydrated helps improve the appearance of certain signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also a great way to keep your skin healthy. The Curology Moisturizer is smooth and gentle enough to apply under the eye but you can also opt for a specialized eye cream with or without retinol if you wish! Remember, drinking water doesn’t help dehydrated skin; for that, you need moisturizer.

Tips to avoid damaging skin while removing makeup

We understand that sometimes removing makeup can be annoying. You’re tired and you just want your beauty sleep. So, instead of taking your time and being gentle with your skin, you rub, tug, and pull your eye makeup off—along with your lashes.

The skin around your eyes is generally more sensitive than other areas of your face. It’s also thinner. That’s why it’s important to take your time, use gentle but effective products, and wipe rather than rubbing. It’s one of the best ways to remove eye makeup without causing wrinkles.

Here are some tips professional makeup artists recommend to avoid damaging your skin while removing your eye makeup.

1. Avoid direct contact with the eyes

Make sure to keep your eyelids closed while using the remover. This prevents the product from getting into your eyes, which can be harmful and uncomfortable.¹⁰

2. Avoid harsh scrubs

It might seem like a good idea to rub off persistent makeup, but harsh scrubs can damage and dry the skin around your eyes. Scrubs are a physical exfoliant and not something we generally recommend using on your face! The only physical exfoliate we typically get behind is the konjac sponge. It’s gentle enough to use 2-3 times a week to remove dead skin cells.

3. Don’t forget eyelid care

Develop a habit of caring for your eyelids every night, especially after makeup removal. A light, careful massage of your eyelids as part of your routine can help keep the skin healthy and prevent damage from harsh makeup removers.¹¹

4. Avoid products with alcohol

Some makeup removers have alcohol, which can irritate and dry your skin.¹² Remember, you have delicate skin around the eye area so you have to be extra careful.

Recommended products

Sometimes, you just need a list of expert-approved skincare products. We’d be remiss not to call attention to the Micellar Makeup Remover by Curology (call us biased, but we believe it’s one of the best ways to remove eye makeup for sensitive eyes).

If you’re looking for something over-the-counter, we’ve got you covered. Any of these products—following the steps above—will do a great job removing no-budge, no-smudge stubborn eye makeup. It’s how you remove makeup without wipes (which, if you ask us, are not all that great anyway!).

  • Curology Micellar Makeup Remover. Dermatologist-designed with a silky gel-water texture to gently and efficiently remove makeup, it’s non-comedogenic with no added fragrances, parabens, or sulfates, and it’s formulated for all skin types.

  • Bioderma Sensibio H2O. This option gently removes fine particles along with makeup and soothes sensitive skin.

  • Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. Formulated with no oil, no alcohol, and no fragrance, Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water removes makeup without rubbing or rinsing.

  • Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balms. Balms are great at removing thick foundation and eye makeup. This one dissolves makeup and gently exfoliates, and it’s designed for all skin types.

The key takeaways

  • The skin around the eyes is delicate, so removing eye makeup gently is crucial to avoid skin damage.

  • Select a gentle, hypoallergenic eye makeup remover and avoid comedogenic oils to help prevent clogged pores and acne.

  • Use a micellar makeup remover for a gentle rub without tugging the skin. Finish with a face wash to remove any remaining traces of makeup.

  • After makeup removal, cleanse, treat, and moisturize your skin to treat any problem areas and maintain a healthy complexion.

  • Curology offers a Micellar Makeup Remover that is dermatologist-designed and non-comedogenic, suitable for all skin types. Experience the benefits of high-quality skincare by trying it today!

Ready to take your skincare to the next level?

Removing your makeup before catching some ZZZs is just the first step to healthy-looking skin. Your skincare products should also include a regular cleanser, moisturizer, and treatment formulated to target your skincare goals.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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At Curology, that’s exactly what we do—formulate custom treatments to tackle your unique skin concerns. When you sign up for Curology, we prescribe a personalized formula and offer expert guidance from a licensed dermatology provider. Just take a short quiz and snap a few selfies. We’ll take care of the rest.

And guess what? You can opt to include micellar makeup remover as part of your trial with Curologyso sign up today!*


What is the best thing to remove eye makeup with?

The best product to remove eye makeup is one that is gentle yet effective, like a micellar makeup remover or non-comedogenic cleanser. Micellar water works like a magnet to lift away makeup without stripping your skin’s natural moisture. It’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin. When choosing a product, look for one that can remove makeup easily without the need for vigorous rubbing, which can damage the delicate skin around your eyes.

How do you get eye makeup off without a makeup remover?

If you find yourself without a traditional makeup remover, you can use alternatives like micellar water or a gentle cleanser. Micellar water can be used with a cotton pad to gently rub off the makeup. Avoid using comedogenic oils like coconut oil as they can clog your pores.

How do you remove eye makeup without using water?

You can use products like micellar water to remove eye makeup without water. These products generally don't require rinsing and can effectively remove makeup. Simply apply the product to a cotton pad and gently wipe over your eyes until the makeup is removed.

Before you try these methods, it’s a good idea to talk to your dermatology provider. They can guide you on what’s safe and effective for your specific skin type and needs, ensuring you take the best care of your eyes.

What is the least harsh way to remove eye makeup?

The least harsh way to remove eye makeup is to use a product that is gentle on the skin and does not require rubbing or pulling. Apply micellar water to a cotton pad and gently press it against your eyelid, allowing it to soak and break down the makeup before gently wiping away.

How do I remove waterproof eye makeup?

For waterproof eye makeup, use a makeup remover specifically designed to dissolve waterproof formulas. Micellar water can be effective at removing waterproof makeup!

• • •

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

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Makeup Tips for Acne-prone Skin. (2019, December 10).

  2. Sutaria, AH., et al. Acne Vulgaris.StatPearls Publishing. (2023, Aug 17)

  3. American Academy of Dermatology. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup?. (n.d.)

  4. Hosokawa, K., et al. Rubbing the skin when removing makeup cosmetics is a major factor that worsens skin conditions in atopic dermatitis patients. J Cosmet Dermatol. (June, 2021)

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. Sensitive skin compatibility of micellar water. Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology. (June 2017).

  6. Wang, MT., and Craig, JP. Investigating the effect of eye cosmetics on the tear film: current insights. Clin Optom (Auckl). (2018, Apr 3)

  7. Francis, A. & Shojan, A. Comedogenicity of Oils. International Journal of Contemporary Medical Research. 2019.

  8. Wang, MT., and Craig, JP. Investigating the effect of eye cosmetics on the tear film: current insights. Clin Optom (Auckl). (2018, Apr 3)

  9. Sutaria, AH., et al. Acne Vulgaris. StatPearls.(2023, Aug 17)

  10. Wang, MT., and Craig, JP. Investigating the effect of eye cosmetics on the tear film: current insights. Clin Optom (Auckl). (2018, Apr 3)

  11. Wang, MT., and Craig, JP. Investigating the effect of eye cosmetics on the tear film: current insights. Clin Optom (Auckl). (2018, Apr 3)

  12. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Dermatologists’ Top Tips for Relieving Dry Skin. (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.

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• • •
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 policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Curology Team

Elise Griffin, Physician Assistant Curology

Elise Griffin, PA-C

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