How to Finally Get That Stubborn Eye Makeup Off

Because it's the worst place to skimp on.

While rock stars (both ladies and gents), off-duty models, and Kristen Stewart will always make a convincing case for sleeping in our eye makeup for that smoky, lived-in look, it's still no excuse for hitting the pillow winged liner intact, lashes coated and curled.

The harm? Well, for one, it will make your eyes puffy, which is hardly a sought-after look. Plus, over time, said puffiness can cause pre-mature aging as it lends itself to wrinkling and sagging. Not too mention, your product will become flaky and melty as you wear it for more than 12 hours.(Sorry, pillows.)

But on the other hand, removing your makeup can be a catch 22. If you're not gentle or using the right formula, it can put a similar strain on the delicate, wrinkle-prone skin around your eyes. Don't freak out just yet—to ensure that you're getting every last lick of makeup off in non-abrasive fashion, we've got some easy to remember tips.

Remove your eye makeup before you wash your face

It's a two-step process. "Many cleansers can't take off concealer or foundation completely, especially around the eyes and nose," explains dermatologist Jeanine Downie. Which brings us to our next pearl of wisdom...

Don't use your face wash to remove makeup

Again, when it comes to getting rid of more potent formulas like waterproof mascara, it won't get the job done and will leave a damaging residue or, if you're really not careful, raccoon eyes.

Use a gentle, yet effective eye makeup remover

It doesn't necessarily need to be store bought, but if it is, look for an oil-based formula, but make sure it's not so oily that it leaves a residue. How do you know it's working? It breaks down pigment and rinses off easily, without intense scrubbing. We loveMAC Cleanse Off Oil ($31) for all skin types. (Pro tip: If you're in a bind or just want to go a more economical route, you can also use your moisturizer or household items such as avocados, petroleum jelly, or grape seed oil. But be mindful, they might not be as effective.)

Use natural cotton pads and Q-tips

We can't stress it enough: Don't take the delicate skin around your eyes for granted. While using your fingers or a tissue might get the job done, natural cotton pads will be far less abrasive on the skin. Plus, you can pre-moisten them for the most effective, pigment-pulverizing impact upon contact. For the hard-to-reach areas around the eye, like the creases or between lashes, Q-tips might be essential.

Press product in, then wipe downward

After you've saturated a pad with product, press it down around your eye and allow it to dissolve so that less rubbing will be necessary. When massaging the product around your eyes, do so in a circular motion and *always* be sure to wipe downward.

Don't use cleansing cloths daily

They'll best serve you as a last resort. For one, they're designed more so so for the face then the sensitive eye area. Plus, if they contain alcohol, they can be irritating and dry out the skin. "They contain preservatives to make them safe from a 'freshness' standpoint, but these same preservatives are not necessarily safe to leave on your skin," explains Rachel Nazarian, M.D. at Schweiger Dermatology Group.

Keep waterproof mascara use to a minimum

It may hold gloriously through the day (and an onslaught of tears) but waterproof mascara will always make the eye makeup removal process more challenging, time-consuming, and worst of all, stressful on the eyes.

Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.