Your Stylist: Taking off stubborn eye makeup

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

As a daily wearer of eyeliner and mascara, I am constantly on the search for the most efficient and effective way to get it all off at the end of the day. Yet I still often end up with slight raccoon eyes, because I loathe taking that extra step of using a separate eye makeup remover in addition to a face cleanser. But with the big trend in striking eye makeup and dramatic lashes coming for fall, taking that extra moment to swipe some makeup remover across the eye might be more important than ever.

I asked MAC Cosmetics senior makeup artist John Stapleton for some expert advice in order to move out of raccoon-eye territory and into having clean, fresh and ring-free areas under the eyes.

“If we’re talking about eye makeup that’s waterproof, multi-layered, cry-proof goodness then something emollient is your best bet,” he says, recommending MAC Cleanse Off Oil ($24), which has good-for-your-skin oils like evening primrose, so it removes while softening and cushioning the delicate eye area.

As far as heavy eye makeup goes, Stapleton says that it doesn’t always mean you have to bring in the big guns when removing it. “Most watery cleansers are strong enough to do the job. Take MAC Pro Eye Make-up Remover ($10) on a cotton round for a softer removal.”


He adds not to turn your nose up at good old-fashioned baby oil ($5.89) on a cotton ball or pad to do the job. “Just make sure to use your favorite cleanser after.”

So much to my chagrin, there doesn’t seem to be any avoiding the two-step process if I keep wearing my heavy eyeliner/mascara combo (which I will) and that’s fine. I looked into a few other eye-makeup removers that have different levels of strength and various skin soothing ingredients to keep the eye area calm and thoroughly clean.

The closest I’ve ever come to getting all my makeup off in one go is with Shiseido Cleansing Oil ($23). A couple pumps into the hand and about 30 seconds spent smearing it around my face and even over my eye makeup tends to get nearly all of it off. But it is oil, and those with an already oily complexion may not want more.

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action eye makeup remover ($26) has garnered a cult following due to the way it can take off even the most shellacked-on waterproof makeup. It’s not oily at all and the eye area is left feeling a little cool and not like it was just yanked by a cotton pad several times.

This solid balm called Balms Away Makeup Breakup ($20) comes in a cute little canister, which was intriguing because it’s not your typical liquidy formula. Apply a little of it directly on the eye area and it breaks down the product, which is then easy enough to wipe away. This one seems good for travel, since there’s no chance of spillage like most other removers. And you can get away with not using a cotton ball or pad, just your fingers and a towel or tissue.

--Melissa Magsaysay


Hello Kitty gets hit with a splash of graffiti

Heavy Metals: Metallic makeup gets dense, agressive

Your Stylist: Get ready for dramatic, intense and spider-like lashes


Top left - MAC Cosmetics Pro Eye Makeup Remover/MAC Cosmetics; Top right - MAC Cosmetics Cleanse Off Eye Makeup Remover/MAC Cosmetics; Middle left - Shiseido Ultimate Cleansing Oil/Shiseido, Middle-right Lancome Bi-Facil Double action eye makeup remover/Lancome; Below right - Johnson’s Baby Oil/; Below left - Balms Away Makeup Breakup balm/Balms Away