5 Makeup Removers That Won’t Irritate Sensitive Skin, According to Dermatologists

Photo: Getty Images/ Delmaine Donson
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Making sure you remove your makeup at the end of the night is annoying enough to warrant a trillion beauty memes. But as any derm will tell you, it's always in your skin’s best interest to do so. Leaving your makeup on can actually end up blocking "the proper outflow of sebum from our pores, and is likely to cause breakouts or other irritations on the skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Melanie Palm, MD, MBA

But while removing your makeup is skin-care 101, what makeup remover you use can also impact your skin’s appearance. Depending on its formulation and ingredients, it can affect your skin in different ways—especially if you have sensitive skin. In general, "it’s important to choose a makeup remover that won’t disrupt your skin barrier,” says board-certified dermatologist,  Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD. “Harsh cleansers strip the skin of essential oils, creating cracks in your skin barrier, with resulting inflammation.” 

Experts In This Article
  • Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Melanie Palm, MD, board-certified dermatologist based in San Diego

For those who love to wear a full face, or use oil-based products, Zeichner recommends going with an oil-based makeup remover to get a more thorough cleanse. On the flip side, micellar water-based cleansers, or oil-free solutions are ideal for those who prefer lighter makeup, or have acne-prone and sensitive skin. "These are ultralight and gentle, and are among the most mild cleansing ingredients on the market," says Dr. Zeichner.

However, if you're not sure what makeup remover is worth adding to your beauty arsenal, take a look at these derm-approved options below to round out your makeup supply.

Best makeup removers according to dermatologists

Avene makeup remover
Avene Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover — $18.00

If you want to take off your winged liner without making your eyes water in the process, this makeup remover deserves a spot on your beauty shelf. The formula is 100 percent oil-free and contains the same pH as your tears to prevent any burning or tingling sensation around the eyes. Also, “it’s a hydrogel-like product that is really soothing on the skin,” says Dr. Palm.

Almay Oil Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads — $11.00

Need a less time-consuming way to remove your makeup at night? These Almay Oil Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads are a safe bet. Made with a mix of aloe, cucumber, and green tea, these pads are super gentle, and won’t tug on the skin. Plus, they’re hypoallergenic, which is a major win for those with sensitive skin. Dr. Palm personally loves them for their “moisturizing and oil-free formulations.”

Farmacy makeup remover
Farmacy Green Clean Cleanser + Makeup Remover Balm — $34.00

A favorite among many makeup users, this Farmacy Green Clean Cleanser + Makeup Remover Balm does a little more than just remove your contour. “This creamy balm melts when it hits the skin to absorb and remove makeup,” says Dr. Zeichner. “The formula contains natural oils like sunflower and ginger root to hydrate and papaya enzymes to offer gentle brightening effects.”

Simple makeup remover wipes
Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes — $8.00

These Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes really do put skin care first. The formula contains a blend of vitamin B5 (for increasing elasticity and softness), vitamin E (for locking in moisture) and micellar water (for removing dirt and impurities). “Micellar technology is a great option for people with sensitive skin or if you are easily irritated,” Dr. Zeichner says. “Rather than applying a micellar water solution onto a cotton pad, these are pre-saturated, easy to use wipes.”



Charlotte Tilbury makeup remover
Charlotte Tilbury Take It Off Eye Makeup Remover — $15.00

Although this is technically an eye makeup remover, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it on other areas of your face, according to Dr. Zeichner. What makes it stand out is its oil-based formulation “that contains a blend of soothing botanicals including cornflower and flax flower extract to keep the skin barrier hydrated and intact,” says Dr. Zeichner. Additionally, it’s perfect to cleanse any waterproof makeup and protect the skin’s moisture barrier.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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