Eye Makeup 101: How to Remove Makeup Without Losing Lashes and Irritating Your Skin

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Lately, I’ve been experimenting with darker eyeliners and eyeshadow hues. This has all been a lot of fun during the day, but not so much fun every night when it comes time to take it all off. In forcefully rubbing remover all over my lids, in the process, I’ve started losing lashes and irritating the skin under my eyes. It finally dawned on me: I’m not doing this right. Time to call in the pros.

Two experts came to the rescue: NYC-based Alexis Comforti Orlando, Laura Mercier Global Makeup Artist, and Dr. Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the author of Stop Aging, Start Living. Both used their specific know-how to break down the whole cleanse-and-remove process. Here it is below, in four simple steps.

1: Do a first pass

First, you should do a general clean sweep. Don’t worry about the particulars, just use a gentle wipe or gel to remove most of the makeup on your face. For heavy (or stage) makeup, you may need to use a more substantial product, such as an oil-based cleanser.

Korres Pomegranate Cleansing & Makeup Removing Wipes are our gentle go-to; Orlando recommends Klorane Floral Gel Eye Makeup Remover for everyday makeup or Laura Mercier Purifying Cleansing Oil for heavy or stage makeup.

2: Cleanse thoroughly

Splash tepid water on your face and gently massage face wash all over, including the eye area, just keep your eyes closed! “This should remove most makeup,” says Dr. Graf. Then, pat skin dry with a towel.

Two mild cleansers we turn to often: Korres Milk Proteins Foaming Cream Cleanser and Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser.

3: Take care of eye makeup residue

To get rid of the remaining bits of liner, mascara, and so forth, Orlando recommends using a mild, fragrance-free eye makeup remover with a cotton ball “to help prevent damaging the skin or lashes.” Be gentle: press the cotton ball onto the lid, hold for a few seconds, then lightly wipe.

Graf stresses that it’s important not to rub. “Rubbing your eyes can stretch and worsen wrinkles, which is why using mild products and a light touch is important,” she explains. If you’ve been an eye-rubber for years, don’t fret. “Damage is reversible when you stop rubbing,” says Graf. In other words, change your habits now, and you should diminish wrinkles and fine lines in the long run!

We like the delicate gel Bliss Lid + Lash Wash Makeup Remover and Orlando prefers Laural Mercier Dual-Action Eye Makeup Remover.  

4: Hydrate hydrate hydrate

When putting on eye cream, the well-known advice holds true: dab it underneath your eyes using your ring finger, because it’s difficult to apply too much pressure with this digit. “We should be using an eye cream no matter what age we are,” says Dr. Graf, who favors retinoid-based products. Finally, apply your regular nighttime moisturizer everywhere else on your face, neck, and decolletage.

We recommend Korres Quercetin & Oak Antiwrinkle Night Cream; Dr. Graf likes Avene YstheAL Eye and Lip Contour Care.