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11 best eye make-up removers: Hardworking formulas that are gentle on the skin

From waterproof mascara to long-wearing eye shadows, wipe the day away with these skincare heroes

Anjana Gosai
Friday 03 September 2021 12:33
<p>Arming yourself with a good quality remover means that taking your make-up off needn’t be a chore</p>

Arming yourself with a good quality remover means that taking your make-up off needn’t be a chore

Let’s face it, applying eye make-up is way more fun than taking it off. But, for the sake of healthy eyes, what goes on must come off.

“Mascara, eyeshadow and liner can clog the skin around the eye area, particles can also stray into the eyes causing irritation and infection,” warns ophthalmic plastic reconstructive surgeon, Sabrina Shah Desai.

The thought of removing make-up at the end of the day may seem like a tedious task, but arming yourself with a good quality remover means that it needn’t be a chore. And when it comes to the eyes, it’s important to pick a formula designed specifically for the area’s delicate skin around th.

“Products that are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and ophthalmologically-tested are less likely to sting or cause irritation, and because the skin around the eyes is thin and delicate, avoid dragging and rubbing, which can lead to laxity and loss of lashes,” adds Shah Desai.

The best eye make-up removers work to melt away even the most long-wearing formulas without causing dryness and irritation.

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How we tested

We tested a variety of eye make-up remover formulas, looking at their ease-of-use and ability to swipe away everything from the hardiest waterproof mascara to heavy-duty liners and highly-pigmented eyeshadow. We wanted a formula that didn’t require any furious tugging and wouldn’t cause lash loss or skin irritation.

You are sure to find the perfect formula in our line-up below.

The best eye make-up removers for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Garnier skin naturals 2 in 1 express eye makeup remover: £3.49, Superdrug.com
  • Best for sensitive skin and eyes – La Roche-Posay respectissime waterproof eye make-up remover: £11, Boots.com
  • Best for soothing – Laura Mercier soothing eye make-up remover: £22, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best for all skin types – Avene intense eye makeup remover: £11.50, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for water-resistant make-up – Chanel démaquillant yeux intense gentle bi-phase eye makeup remover: £25, Selfridges.com
  • Best for hydration – Clinique naturally gentle eye make-up remover: £15.20, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best oil-free formula – NARS gentle oil-free eye make-up remover: £19.50, Narscosmetics.co.uk
  • Best for convenience – Pixi lash nourish make-up remover pads: £10, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best for multi-tasking – Sisley gentle make-up remover for face and eyes: £92, Spacenk.com
  • Best for affordability/speedy removal – Nivea double effects eye make-up remover: £1.50, Boots.com
  • Best for eyes and lips – Elemis white flowers eye & lip make-up remover: £25, Elemis.com

Garnier skin naturals 2-in-1 express eye make-up remover, 125ml

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

This formula contains 30 per cent oil and 70 per cent water and requires shaking to form an emulsion. We could not fault its ability to effortlessly shift a heavy eye, (layered with liquid liner, eyeshadow and a hardcore mascara) without smearing or irritation. It comes fortified with naturally-derived arginine to protect the lashes, making it a great option for those with brittle eyelashes, and it left ours beautifully soft too, right down to the root. On the whole, it’s inexpensive, kind to lashes and just as effective as products twice the price.

La Roche-Posay respectissime waterproof eye make-up remover, 125ml

Best: For sensitive skin and eyes

Rating: 8/10

Free from fragrance and parabens, this ultra-mild formula is especially good for sensitive eye areas – it doesn’t cause any stinging or itching and does a great job at removing make-up without bothering contact lenses. Gentle on the eyes but tough on make-up, it worked wonderfully to eradicate daily eye make-up, like a slick of mascara and stroke of eye-liner, without the need to rub.

Laura Mercier soothing eye make-up remover, 100ml

Best: For soothing

Rating: 7/10

This water and oil-based blend felt gentle and super light on the skin. It expelled eyeliner with ease, but mascara and eyeshadow required a bit more work, so it may not be ideal for more stubborn eye make-up formulas. The added cornflower soothed and refreshed the eye area, and we can confirm that it left zero oily residues, nor did it sting.

Avene intense eye makeup remover, 125ml

Best: For all skin types

Rating: 8/10

This is a brand known for its gentle skincare formulations, and this eye make-up remover is no different. The bi-phase blend is made up of mild oils to attract make-up and spring water to lift residue. Around five cotton pads doused in the formula were needed to shift concealer, mascara and a layer of cream eyeshadow effectively. Although a little residue was left behind, it was easily blotted away. It gets a big thumbs up for leaving the skin feeling soft and nourished without a hint of irritation.

It’s currently out of stock on Lookfantastic, but is available elsewhere, or you can add it to your wishlist to be the first to know when it’s back.

Chanel démaquillant yeux intense gentle bi-phase eye makeup remover, 100ml

Best: For water-resistant make-up

Rating: 9/10

This two-part formula requires shaking to be activated. The lower, blue part is infused with soothing rose and cornflower water, while the transparent top layer contains purified oils.

You can rely on this formula to dissolve anything and everything you apply to the eyes – including glitter. The skin was left beautifully soft and supple, without feeling overly oily. There’s no need to soak the cotton pad with this one, as a little goes a long way.

Clinique naturally gentle eye make-up remover, 75ml

Best: For hydration

Rating: 9.5/10

This luxurious cream to gel formula glides effortlessly over the lids. It can be massaged on with a cotton pad or fingers. We used a warm, damp flannel to sweep away a dramatic smokey eye layered with two coats of waterproof mascara, with minimal effort. We were left super impressed with its deep cleaning powers – it shifts all traces of make-up, while simultaneously hydrating the skin around the eyes.

NARS gentle oil-free eye make-up remover, 100ml

Best: Oil-free formula

Rating: 8.5/10

If your skin cannot tolerate oils or you detest the greasy feel of some eye make-up removers, this oil-free blend is for you. Instead of oil, this dual-phase formula uses silicone to dissolve make-up, and water to clean.

It does require vigorous shaking for the two layers of liquid to combine, but once ready it will then swiftly dissolved eyeliner and mascara leaving lashes feeling super soft. It’s also useful for fixing eyeliner and mascara smudges without disturbing other make-up.

After use, skin felt dry to touch, but not dried out thanks to the addition of moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid. It’s also enriched with cucumber and chamomile for a comforting effect around the eyes.

Pixi lash nourish make-up remover pads, 80 pads

Best: For convenience

Rating: 7.5/10

Perfect for travelling, this portable tub comes filled with 80 easy-to-use pads. They have been pre-soaked with a cocktail of skin and lash-friendly ingredients such as soothing aloe vera; argan oil to nourish lash roots; panthenol to repair and castor oil to boost eyelash growth.

The flexible pads are great for cleaning hard to reach areas and while they do a good job at eradicating eyeliner and tough eyeshadow, waterproof mascara required more effort. The pads are fairly small and thin, so you do need to use a fair few per eye to get everything off.

Sisley gentle make-up remover for face and eyes, 300ml

Best: For multi-tasking

Rating: 9/10

If you don’t like to faff around with multiple make-up removing products, you won’t be disappointed with this multi-tasking formula that can be used all around the eyes and face. It beautifully cleanses and tones the skin, while wiping away tough eye make-up. It leaves skin squeaky clean and lashes with a glossy finish.

Why the hefty price tag? It contains plant-based saponins like shikakai, desert date, and gypsophila that are hailed for their potent cleansing powers. Plus, moisturising pro-vitamin B5 along with linden blossom water and neroli extract, which provide a pleasant soothing sensation.

Nivea double effects eye make-up remover, 125ml

Best: For affordability/speedy removal

Rating: 8.5/10

According to Nivea sales data, 2.8 bottles of this eye make-up remover are sold in the UK every minute. Developed with a two-phase formula, oil quickly lifts and shifts tough waterproof eyeliner, mascara and brow pencil without the need to rub, while the aqueous phase offers hydration. It did leave the skin slightly greasy, but this faded after a while. We were impressed with how it removed every speck of make-up with less effort than some of the pricey formulas.

Elemis white flowers eye and lip make-up remover, 125ml

Best: For eyes and lips

Rating: 8/10

Enriched with hydrating wild peony, cooling white tea and lash-conditioning vitamin B5, this oil-based, fragrance-free formula seamlessly dissolves everything from eyeshadow to brow pencil without irritating skin or contact lenses. Skin felt refreshed and hydrated after use and the fact that it can shift a usually budge-proof liquid lipstick was an added bonus.

The verdict: Make-up removers

Garnier skin naturals 2-in-1 express eye makeup remover is an all-around brilliant eye make-up remover. It wipes away all remnants of make-up with ease and the added lash caring ingredients are a welcome addition. At under £5 you cannot fault it.

If you prefer a cream-based formula, you can’t go wrong with Clinique naturally gentle eye make-up remover, which quickly expels every trace of an intense smokey eye with zero effort, irritation or lash loss. It’s also kind to the skin, leaving it perfectly hydrated.

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For more skincare reviews, check out our edit of the best retinols for age-defying skin

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