10 best make-up removers that tackle long wearing products

These skincare heroes from The Body Shop, Sunday Riley and Garnier are soft on skin but tough on cosmetics 

Ataowaji Victor
Thursday 17 September 2020 15:50
Choose from oils, balms, cleansers, wipes and micellar waters
Choose from oils, balms, cleansers, wipes and micellar waters

Whether you are leaning into the resurgence of the Noughties gloss or trying to get your base products to stay put under a mask , there is one hard and fast rule about make-up – a good remover is paramount.

Beauty lovers know however,  that removing your beloved liners and matte foundations can often be the most tedious part of day.

Finding a great make-up remover that doesn’t require tugging, scrubbing, irritated eyes, or – most importantly – doesn’t ruin countless pillowcases can feel like an impossible task.

Between the balms, oils and micellar waters, nailing down a bathroom sink staple can feel as time consuming as removing waterproof mascara. But luckily, we’ve done all the hard work for you.

In our quest to find a new make-up removal hero, we focused on looking for one that swiped through make-up, without leaving our skin feeling tight or stripped.

We tested removers with essential oils, milky textures or gentle foams, avoiding heavy alcohols or fragrances to find a remover that could work on even the most sensitive of skin.

All of our favourites are no-fuss, no hassle, make-up melters that are kind to all complexions.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent

Neighbourhood Botanicals x My Beauty Brand oil to milk make-up remover

This is our go-to option for natural ingredients that are kind to all skin types. Neighbourhood Botanicals’s most recent collaboration with My Beauty Brand is a multi-tasking two-phase oil to milk cleanser. Made with Ecocert ingredients, it’s 100 per cent cruelty free and vegan, making it perfect for even the most sensitive of skin. 

First, the oil melts away even the toughest of mascara smudges without the need to pull or tug. Then, after removing the oil and re-applying onto wet skin, it transforms into a heavenly milk that glides across skin leaving it completely make-up free. All this packed into a completely recyclable bottle means it is both planet and time friendly. After using it daily for five days, our skin was left feeling super clean, balanced and hydrated.

Fresh soy face cleanser

This cult beauty favourite is one that does not disappoint. The 3-in-1 formula is packed with calming cucumber extract to soothe your skin, while gently breaking down everything from glitter eyeshadows to tough eyeliners. It even glides through our much needed and all year round staple – SPF. We found that along with make-up removal, it’s amino acid-rich soy proteins helped to leave skin plump. This alongside the inclusion of nourishing borage seed oil made it a perfect morning and night cleansing addition.

Sunday Riley blue moon clean rinse cleansing balm

Enriched with a blend of essential oils, German chamomile and natural beeswax in a cocoa and moringa butter base, this luxurious cleansing balm is truly the stuff of at-home luxury dreams. A few swipes from the tub is enough to melt off foundation and even the most pigmented liquid lipsticks. We loved this as part of our double cleanse routine after a day of heavy make-up wear, but it works just as well as a standalone step before an end of day bath – this balm is a spa in a tub.

The Body Shop aloe calming foaming wash

Who doesn’t love sudsy foam? We certainly do and this calming wash is all of the soapy, aerated fun without any of the skin stripping traditional foaming soaps usually sport. Formulated specifically for sensitive skin, with no added fragrance colour or alcohol, this wash gently clears and cleanses your skin. It’s not the one to reach for on heavier make-up days, but we use ours for those sunnier days where a light BB cream and soft brow pencil are more than enough.

Glossier milky oil

Instagram’s favourite beauty brand, Glossier, has skincare options a plenty. If you already love the milky cleanser then this milky oil (a perfectly-proportioned combination of micellar water and weightless oil) is exactly what you need to add to the basket next. The best applicators for this product are clean palms and gentle fingers rather than a cotton round. The formula easily dissolves make-up, especially around the eyes, without drying or irritating the skin. We only wish it came in a larger size, so it could become a daily addition to our make-up removal routine.

Avene eau thermale gentle milk cleanser

The almost indisputable hero of the double cleanse (a must when you’re removing make-up) is the milk cleanser and Avene’s offering is a winner. Not only does it eliminate make-up and environmental impurities without irritation, but its non-drying formula, enriched with moisturisers, gives your skin with the perfect hydrated base for the rest of your nighttime routine.

Simple biodegradable cleansing wipes

Reducing waste is most definitely one of the main concerns in the beauty space right now, and Simple’s biodegradable cleansing wipes are an affordable switch for anyone who isn’t quite ready to break up with make-up wipes just yet. We found that these wipes are not only kinder to the planet, but also kinder to skin than most other versions. We will be using ours for those days that we just can’t bare the thought of doing anything more than a quick wipe before crashing into bed.

Beauty Pie JapanFusion pure transforming cleanser

When it comes to hybrid skincare, the subscription service Beauty Pie has been a cut above the rest since it launched in 2017. Its gel to oil to milk (in contact with water) cleanser is yet another testament to this. We think it’s perfect for daily removal of all traces of make-up (including waterproof mascara) and found that it left skin clean, fresh and radiant.

Garnier skin active micellar rose water

We could not test out the best make-up remover without returning to Garnier’s wonder kid – the micellar water. Its newest iteration is enriched with rose water (known for its brightening properties) making it perfect for whisking away stubborn waterproof make-up with no heavy rubbing or any lashes lost. Removing make-up sans sink, check.

Typology 7 ingredient makeup removal oil

Typology is another new beauty brand taking the UK by storm. Its mixture of trusted French skincare heritage and clean, simple yet effective formulas make it a 2020 one to watch. We love its minimalist, fragrance-free make-up removal oil as a stand-alone remover; easily applied with cotton pads or a small amount on your hands before rinsing off thoroughly with water. Although its simple formulation makes it suitable for even the most sensitive of skins types, the residue oil from the product may not be for everyone.

The verdict: Make-up removers

The Neighbourhood Botanicals x My Beauty Brand oil to milk make-up remover is quite hard to fault, so we won’t. The rise of hybrid formulas in beauty has made removal fun and this collaboration makes it kinder to the planet too. For a more luxurious, spa at home moment, we love Sunday Riley’s cleansing balm.

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