Makeup Tips

How to Remove the Most No-Budge Makeup, According to a Drag Makeup Artist

Saanya Ali

Photo: Getty Images/Yakobchuk Olena
Picture this: It's midnight (give or take a few hours), you've just gotten home from a #hotgirlsummer night out, and all you want to do is kick off your shoes and dive headfirst into your bed. The one thing getting in the way of freeing your blistered soles and sinking into your pillowed throne? Taking off your makeup.

For makeup wearers far and wide, the cardinal rule that comes with wearing it is that you have to (and I mean, really have to) remove your your makeup before going to bed. As hard as that may feel some days (or nights), not doing so is a surefire recipe for clogged pores, pimples, dry skin, and morning redness and irritation. No one knows the plight better than drag queens, who wear makeup products that are meant to withstand the longest nights, sweatiest performances, and the hottest lights. So just what are drag queens' go-to tips for taking it all off? We asked drag makeup artist, and M.A.C. senior national artist, Victor Cembellin. Keep scrolling for six tips.

How to remove long-lasting makeup, according to a drag makeup artist

1. Start with a primer

Anytime you're wearing makeup, but especially during the summer months or if you are planning to dance or perform (because who doesn't love putting on a show?!), makeup primers are key. Cembellin suggests using a primer both for eye makeup and brow makeup, as well as one applied all over the face, before foundation. This will keep your skin protected, pores happy, and make removing your makeup later on much easier. Our editors like Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer.

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

2. Take off adhesives first

Though it seems fairly obvious, it's important to remember to gently remove all false lashes, stickers, or rhinestones before starting on the rest of your makeup. Adhesives can irritate the skin, especially if you are using multiple other products at the same time, so those should be the first to go.

3. Use a cleansing oil

Cleansing oils are great because they are gentle on your skin, but also really help to detach all of the heavy makeup from your face. Use the oil to emulsify "the entire face...until the face becomes a slick grey oily mess," says Cembellin. We like the Epara Cleansing Oil.

Epara Cleansing Oil


4. Wipe off (don't rub off) excess product

Use wipes to remove the emulsified "slick grey oily mess" by wiping in a downward motion, section by section, until most of the makeup has disappeared. It's important to go piece by piece to avoid rubbing the grime into your pores and to ensure that you are actually getting all of the makeup off rather than just moving it around. Try: Shiseido Refreshing Cleansing Sheets.

Shiseido Refreshing Cleansing Sheets


5. Find a gentle remover

After using a wipe to remove the majority of the makeup and residue, use cotton buds or pads to delicately address the eye area with a gentle remover like the Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water. This will make sure to remove any lingering product, but if you're looking for one final step, Cembellin recommends using your cleansing oil one last time. The M.A.C Cleanse Off Oil ($33) is great when "activated with water for one final nourishing, replenishing, and protective cleanse and rinse."

Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water

M.A.C Cleanse Off Oil


6. Care for your canvas

Finally, after removing all of the makeup, it's just as important to take care of your canvas—your skin—to make sure that is ready for another full mug the next time. "My favorite replenishing and protective moisturizer is M.A.C Complete Comfort Cream ($35) because it rehydrates skin and provides relief for sensitive skin and a drag queen's skin can become sensitive after the shaving, makeup application and removal process," says Cembellin.

M.A.C Complete Comfort Cream


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