A beauty commandment we can all agree on: Take your makeup off before bed. If not for the sake of your nightly skin-care ritual, for the sake of your very delicate face: Because skin absorbs leftover product, sleeping in the stuff (for shame!) can clog pores, worsen acne, and keep skin cells from shedding through the night, causing dull skin.
The second order of business is to find a makeup remover that actually takes all your stubborn makeup off—without the same effort required to scrub a plate crusted in goop. And on days when you discover you’ve pumped your last drop of your beloved micellar water, or if you’re looking for a simple potion that won’t dry out your skin, homemade makeup removers can come to your rescue.
What you need for DIY makeup remover
While many store-bought products use soaps and surfactants to loosen the surface tension of the water, making the molecules “slipperier” and therefore better able to sweep away dirt and oils, homemade recipes count on oil to dissolve makeup, says Kelly Dobos, cosmetic chemist and president of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.
Oils—like coconut, olive, argan, and more—are often used as the base of DIY removers because, Dobos says, “like dissolves like.” Foundation, mascara, and lip products often contain waxy or oily ingredients, which oils can thus take on. Just remember: Coconut and argan oil can clog pores, so if you’re prone to acne, opt for hydrating olive oil instead.
A DIY makeup remover mainstay you might not already have in your pantry is moisturizing, antibacterial Jojoba oil. It’s actually similar to our skin sebum, which helps keep clogged pores and unwanted oil at bay. Other typical ingredients include the anti-inflammatory witch hazel and healing vitamin E. You’ll also see essential oils added to the mix, although Dobos says they can be irritating to sensitive skin.
When it comes to whipping up your own remover, keep in mind “ingredients that are anti-inflammatory are the safest ones to use,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, board-certified dermatologist with New York’s Schweiger Dermatology. She notes a wildcard ingredient: yogurt, which is safe for most skin types and breaks down surface particles and dead skin.
What to consider before using your concoction
Like any DIY beauty product, homemade makeup remover comes with a list of warnings. “The skin is a unique organ and operates best at a very special pH level,” says Dr. Nazarian. “Anything that’s more acidic or basic than your skin can disrupt the natural oil barrier and cause inflammation and scarring.” Generally, she says, store-bought makeup remover has less “user error” than the homemade stuff.
“Modern cleansers for the skin were developed with mildness in mind,” Dobos says. Skin-care companies test their formulations before they hit shelves, something us DIYers don’t have the luxury of doing. If you want to be extra safe, Dr. Nazarian suggests you chat with your dermatologist before slathering anything on your skin to make sure your homemade potion will be kind to your complexion.
How to make homemade makeup remover
If you stick to the skin-happy basics, a homemade makeup remover will do the trick. “Light and gentle carrier oils like jojoba, sunflower, and camellia seed are great for use around sensitive eye area and effectively removing makeup,” Jana Blankenship, founder of the skin-care brand Captain Blankenship, says. Below, Blankenship shares a recipe from her book Wild Beauty.
Ingredients (yields 4 ounces)
1. Mix all ingredients together in measuring cup; stir well
2. Pour into glass bottle and attach pump
3. Wet face and rub quarter-size amount of oil on the face and around the eyes. Remove with lukewarm water and wet washcloth.
4. Follow with toner and cleanser of choice
5. Keep for up to a year stored out of direct sunlight
For an option even more simple, try this 4-ingredient makeup remover:
1. Combine olive oil and coconut oil; mix until smooth
2. Add witch hazel and vitamin E; combine
3. Store in a glass jar
If you’re serious about skin care, you’ve got to get a retinol. A derm explains why:
In case you were wondering: Yes, there is a difference between a makeup remover and a cleanser. And here are your face-washing FAQs, answered.
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