How to Remove Makeup & Tips for Post-Makeup Removal Skincare

7 minutes
October 03, 2023

This isn’t going to be the first article you’ve seen emphasizing the importance of thoroughly removing your makeup at the end of the day. Why do skin experts keep harping on it, you may wonder. After all, some nights you’re just exhausted and assuming your face isn’t sporting a total lewk, there’s no harm in hitting the sack with a little leftover mascara and eyeliner, right? Wrong, and we’re here to tell you why.

Why removing makeup before bed is crucial

It’s Acne 101 to know that a breakout comes from a clogged pore. Yes, dirt and oil are clogged-pore culprits, but most of the time, you can’t even see either on your face at the end of the day. What you can see is something with a much larger particle size — the remnants of the foundation you blended in earlier or the dense pigments of the cream blush you tapped into your cheeks. If that’s visible to your naked eye, imagine how much bigger (and pore filling) makeup is than plain old dirt. And since you already know that skin works its hardest while you’re asleep, just imagine it trying to go through its normal nighttime cellular processes and hitting roadblocks in every pore.

So that’s one thing. The other reason why removing makeup before bed is crucial is a serious medical issue involving your eyes. Eyes are sensitive, that’s a fact. You already treat your undereye skin with kid gloves for that reason. And due to their inherent moisture, eyes can be prone to infection, which is why doctors tell you to replace your mascara every three months and your eyeliner every three to six. Eyes are a bacterial breeding ground even before you apply one swipe of mascara. So imagine what happens if you leave your eyeliner on before you go to bed. It can plug the pores in your lash line, resulting in a stye, something much grosser and more difficult to resolve than a pimple. It can cause abrasions on your cornea, which can lead to infection or vision impairment. Just by itself, mascara can dry out lashes, making them prone to breakage and thinning. 

How to remove makeup & what products to use

Now that you know your makeup needs to come off, there are a few options to do it. Oil-based balms and cleansers are a popular choice for removing waterproof makeup because their oil dissolves the oil in waterproof formulas, allowing the makeup to slide off easily and gently. The drawback can be that you end up with oil on your face, not great for anyone prone to breakouts. As a result, people often double cleanse when going this route. Removing the makeup with an oil first, then removing the oil with another cleanser.

Pre-moistened cloth wipes are another option. While these seem convenient (what’s easier than leaving a pack on your nightstand and wiping your face before you turn out the light?), they’re actually not great at cleansing your face. While you may not see any makeup on your skin after you use a wipe, the cloth itself has left residue on your face. If you don’t get rid of that residue (via a rinse-off cleanser), it can end up clogging your pores, irritating your skin, and more.

In the end, there’s really no way around it: If you want to remove your makeup effectively, you’re going to need water, cleanser, and a sink.

What to do after removing makeup — step by step

As you know, a comprehensive skincare routine is more than one step. Here’s how to get the most out of your nighttime ritual.

Step 1: Remove makeup

Oil-based balms aren’t the only way to dissolve stubborn eye makeup. Our Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Meltaway Cleanser is oil free and uses micellar technology to remove any trace of heavy-duty makeup while leaving skin feeling soft, not stripped.

Step 2: Cleanse skin

Now’s the time for a real rinse. You want a gentle cleanser, like our Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel, that will gobble up any leftover oil or residue on your face and send it down the drain.

Step 3: Exfoliate

Removing dead surface cells is never not a good idea. If you haven’t already done yours in the morning, now’s the time for your Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel.

Step 4: Treat skin with a serum

Your face is primed to absorb a serum. If you just did your Alpha Beta Daily Peel in the previous step, follow it with our Dr. Dennis Gross DermInfusions Fill + Repair Serum to help plump and firm. If you performed your peel in the am, try our Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum instead for increased cellular turnover and help reducing discoloration. (You never want to apply retinol to freshly peeled skin.)

Step 5: Moisturize

No matter what your skin type, you always need to include moisturizer in your routine. Those concerned with breakouts should reach for our oil-free Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Moisturizer. Skin that needs extra hydration will love our Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Dewy Deep Cream.

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