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In a Pinch? Here’s How to Remove Your Makeup Without Makeup Remover

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Photo by Hagar Wirba / 500px / Getty Images

We’ve all had those nights when you come home, open your medicine cabinet and reach for your favorite makeup remover, only to discover that you’ve run out. Your face is dripping, your mascara is running, and you need a quick-fix—fast. When we were growing up, this meant swiping a few pumps of lotion onto a square of Kleenex and going to town. But what’s actually the best (and healthiest!) way to remove your makeup when you’ve run out of makeup remover products?

To find out, we tapped makeup artist Tobi Henney to find out the dos and don’ts of makeup remover in a pinch.


About the Expert:

Tobi Henney is a beauty expert and celebrity makeup artist.

How to Remove Makeup Without Makeup Remover?

1. Coconut Oil

“Using coconut oil straight from a jar is such a great way to remove makeup, and it also hydrates the skin at the same time,” says Henney. “Obviously it must be a little melted so you can scoop it out and massage it into the skin, and then it’s best to remove it with a warm face cloth. It definitely helps with getting off stubborn-to-move mascaras too.”

2. Other Oils

Any oil that’s considered non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores) that you have in your beauty cabinet will help to gently remove makeup. Try jojoba oil, which is a hydrating oil that won’t strip your skin or cause irritation.

3. Micellar Water

Henney notes that Micellar water and cotton pads are also great in a pinch. Micellar water is made from purified water, moisturizing agents like glycerin or aloe, and oil molecules that help lift makeup from the skin and eyes. We love the REFRESHMENTS Radiant Micellar Water for removing makeup quickly.

4. Baby Shampoo

If you’re really in a pickle and need to remove makeup fast, reach for some gentle baby shampoo. This product is eye-safe, so it won’t irritate your eyes as you gently work it into the skin and eye area to melt down products.

What About Waterproof Mascara?

Waterproof mascara can be so stubborn that even traditional makeup remover products won’t break it down. First and foremost, you should reach for a makeup remover that claims to work against waterproof mascara, like the KLORANE Waterproof Floral Water Make-up Remover With Soothing Cornflower.

If you don’t have makeup remover, experts say you can use the above-mentioned oils. “Coconut oil works really well and is also very gentle on your lashes,” says Henney. A cold cream cleanser like the POND’S Cold Cream Cleanser will work as well.

Can I Use Just Water to Remove my Makeup?

“Water will not properly remove and allow the skin to be clean again,” says Henney. Using just water to remove makeup should definitely be a last-resort scenario.

What About Regular Soap and Water?

Using soap and water to remove makeup is a second-to-last resort, says Henney. “This can work in desperate situations, but is not recommended as it’s super drying for the skin,” she adds.

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About the author
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Brittany Leitner
Brittany is an award winning beauty, health, and lifestyle writer and author of the poetry book "23 Emotions." She has eight years of experience writing for brands like Elite Daily, The. Dr. Oz Show, Shape, Stylecaster, Bustle, and more.
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Article Last Updated July 6, 2023 12:00 AM