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How to remove your makeup: 5 expert-approved tips

Cleansing your skin is the first rule of a good skincare regime, and it's even more important when you are wearing makeup

Have you ever gone to remove a smoky eye makeup look and found yourself pressing and tugging and generally going at your skin to get all of it off? Or wondered if your makeup was really and truly gone before applying skincare? If you have, you’re on the money; those are both important things to contemplate when it comes to the health of your skin, with experts hammering home the importance of removing makeup fully - and gently - before applying any products and going to bed.

But how best to do it? And are there techniques for different parts of your face? We grilled the experts to find out how you can efficiently remove makeup without a whisper of irritation or damage:

Never rub or scrub

It’s tempting, we know, but the work should be done by the product, not manually. Dr Emmaline Ashley, Etre Vous expert, and Clinical Director at Ashley Aesthetics, says the key is to “use gentle, non-irritating products and to avoid rubbing or scrubbing the skin too vigorously;” doing so can result in micro-tears in the skin, one result of which is a compromised barrier and irritation, the other premature ageing.

Use lukewarm water

Dr Ashley also recommends swerving the urge to use a flannel, muslin, or cotton pads steeped in hot water to remove cleanser: “we generally recommend avoiding washing your face with hot water, as this can strip the skin of its natural lipids. Use lukewarm water instead.” The issue with removing natural lipids is twofold: skin will feel instantly more dry, and additionally the barrier won’t be as robust, meaning you’re more likely to lose water - leading to skin that lacks hydration.

Try an oil-based remover

The idea behind this is that because oil based cleansers like balms, and micellar water dissolve the makeup (dirt and sebum) meaning you can wipe it away with ease, making the process super gentle for the skin. And according to Dr Ashley, there’s an additional benefit: “it is a great option for those with dry skin as it will help retain the skin’s moisture.” Win, win.

Be extra careful around eyes

It’s worth putting in a little extra care on the eyes: “the skin there is delicate, and can be easily irritated as a result of being thinner, containing less subcutaneous fat, and fewer oil glands than the rest of skin,” warns Dr Ashley. Additionally, most makeup focusses on this area so it offers even more scope to potentially tug, pull and irritate.  

Etre Vous Expert, and Founder of DermRefine Skin Clinic, Balsam Alabassi advises, “rest the pad on the eyes to dissolve eyeshadows, liners and mascara, then avoid any dragging motion. Instead, gently sweep up towards the edges of the face.”

And when it comes to mascara specifically it’s important to remove mascara nightly. Failure to do so can lead to concretions, the formation of hard masses embedded around the eye. If these are left untreated, they can lead to discomfort or, at their worst, a loss of vision.

Double cleanse

If you’re wearing a lot of makeup, you’ll likely have to double (if not triple) cleanse. The first round should remove the majority of your makeup, but the second ensures it’s all gone, especially on the neck, around the ears and hair line. You could do this using the same cleanser, or pick one designed to remove makeup first, then follow up with one that targets your specific skin care needs.  

Dr Ashley advises that “in general, oil-based cleansers can be effective for removing water-resistant and long-wearing makeup, while water-based cleansers can be effective for removing lighter, non-waterproof makeup.” She goes on to add that it’s worth knowing the difference between oils such as olive oil and coconut oil (which dissolve makeup), surfactants such as sodium lauryl surface (which break down makeup and remove it from the skin), and emollients like glycerin and shea butter (which help to moisturise skin and prevent it from feeling dry or tight after makeup has been removed), so you know what to look for when selecting the appropriate face wash. 

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