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This Is The Best Way To Remove Heavy Eye Makeup (Without Losing Lashes)

Image by CoffeeAndMilk / iStock
March 8, 2022

Sometimes life calls for a little extra eye makeup, but that doesn't mean you have to struggle taking it off when you're done with it. If you're one to play around with products like liquid eyeliner, glittery eyeshadow, or waterproof mascara, you probably know that it takes a bit more effort to remove these formulas, as opposed to swiping off your concealer or lip color. 

Your instinct may be to rub and scrub to dissolve the stubborn pigment, but that can irritate the delicate eye area and even cause your eyelashes to fall out (don't worry, though; they do grow back!). But recently, board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, M.D., shared her favorite method for removing heavy eye makeup in a recent TikTok video (no tugging required). Here's her quick tip: 

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A derm's tip for removing heavy eye makeup. 

In terms of natural makeup removers, experts are quick to recommend oils, cleansing balms, and micellar water to help break up the formulas. However, not all of these removers are created equal: If you've ever used a micellar-water-soaked cotton round to swipe away heavy eye makeup, you likely know that it takes quite a few passes to finally leave the skin clear. (Cue the pileup of soiled reusable cotton rounds on your bathroom counter.) 

That's why Shirazi recommends using a richer cleansing balm to dissolve heavy eye makeup first; she considers micellar water her go-to remover for that light makeup residue once the bulk of the pigment has melted away. 

Follow her exact routine below: 

  1. First, Shirazi uses an oil-based cleansing balm on a cotton pad to remove her eye look. She rubs the product in slowly, letting it melt away the makeup without adding too much pressure. For this step, we love the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm for that stubborn but oh-so-worth-it eye look. (Or feel free to check out our favorite cleansing balms here.)
  2. Then she uses micellar water to clean her skin and wash away any concealer or light foundation since she tends to apply little to no base products. For this lighter removal step, we look to Acure's Brightening Micellar Water, but you can find our full list of picks here.
  3. If you still notice any lingering eye makeup, you can go in with micellar water once again to clean up those bits. Chances are, it will be much easier to clear the pigment after that first round with the cleansing balm.  
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This method is perfect for anyone who tends to wear less face makeup (but loves a glam eye look) or struggles to remove eye makeup in their current nighttime routine. If you're wearing a full-coverage base, you might find more success with using a heavier cleansing balm all over; either way, make sure to follow up with a water-based cleanser after you melt away the makeup.

The takeaway.

Creating an artistic masterpiece on your face is one of the joys that comes with wearing makeup. That being said, it's important to tend to your skin when you're done with it, too. Use this tip next time you find yourself removing makeup in a not-so-gentle manner.

Hannah Frye
Hannah Frye
mbg Assistant Beauty Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.