No-breakout makeup removers

How to remove makeup for sensitive, acne-prone skin

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Sep 10, 2019 · 4 min read

Cotton pads with red lipstick marks on them
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.

Every time I have to take off my mascara, I’m reminded of an old saying from Vaudeville: “what goes on must come off.” This rings especially true to me as someone with sensitive, acne-prone skin — I want to use makeup to temporarily conceal blemishes without making them worse. So this week, I looked at what the medical research says to figure out the best makeup removers for sensitive, acne-prone skin.

But first, let’s bust some skincare myths.

Is micellar water really the best makeup remover?

Over the years, I’ve tried several different methods of removing makeup — especially wipes, oils, and cold creams — with mixed results. Makeup wipes, in particular, were a staple of my PM skin routine for a long time. I tried several different brands (both drugstore and high-end) before realizing that none of them were taking off all of my makeup. And it turns out that a lot of makeup wipes contain harsh ingredients (hello, alcohol) which can irritate sensitive skin.

Last year, I switched to micellar water, and I will never go back to wipes. Micellar water cleanses, removes makeup, and moisturizes in one step by using tiny molecules — micelles — that pull the dirt and oil out of your skin. A cotton ball soaked in micellar water removes most of my makeup easily without having to “scrub” (which, go figure, isn’t ideal for sensitive skin).

That said, I still keep makeup wipes around for when I’m on-the-go — their convenience is hard to beat. If you prefer makeup wipes, there’s no harm to your skin in using them as long as their ingredients pass the CosDNA test.

Person holding wet cotton pads

Does sleeping with makeup on cause acne?

The short answer is no. Combining your pancake face with your beauty rest doesn’t cause acne on its own. But sleeping with makeup on may lead to acne if your makeup contains pore-clogging ingredients. The other reason you might find a correlation between acne and falling asleep with makeup on is that a moist environment on your skin can help breakout-causing bacteria to multiply quickly.

But the main reason why you should remove your makeup at night is because most skincare products do better when applied on a clean, dry face. This is especially important if you’re using a nighttime acne treatment like your Curology medication.

Now that we’ve got the facts straight, here are my honest thoughts on some of the best non-comedogenic makeup removing waters and wipes.

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The best makeup remover for sensitive, acne-prone skin

Bioderma Sensibio H2O

($14.90, 16.7 fl. oz.)

  • A micellar water that removes makeup while soothing and cleansing sensitive skin.

  • The micelles in this product are made of fatty acid esters, which help to rebuild and reinforce your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

  • The fragrance-free and non-comedogenic formula won’t clog pores.

The best drugstore micellar water

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

($8.99, 13.5 fl. oz.)

  • Fragrance-free and non-comedogenic formula.

  • It contains glycerin, which is a great moisturizing ingredient for dry skin.

  • Used nightly by this (currently) breakout-free blogger!

The best makeup remover wipes

Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths

($23.00, 10 ct)

  • A makeup remover cloth that won’t break you out.

  • It contains a pleasant-smelling blend of herbs.

  • Some ingredients might irritate your eyes, so don’t use these for eye makeup!

The best drugstore makeup remover wipes

The Creme Shop Hello Kitty Collection Micellar Water Wipes

($5.99, 20 ct)

  • A makeup remover cloth that won’t break you out.

  • It contains glycerin and aloe vera, two of my favorite moisturizing ingredients.

  • It’s got Hello Kitty on it. Need I say more?

Treat acne while you sleep

Looking for the perfect PM skincare routine to clear up acne? Then look no further. With Curology, a board-certified dermatology provider will help guide you through your unique skincare journey by prescribing you a custom cream for your skin needs. Sign up for a free trial and pay just $4.95 to cover the cost of shipping and handling on your first bottle or complete 3-step set.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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