You’re Taking Off Your Makeup Wrong — But Here’s How to Fix It

This common mistake can do more harm than good.

By Madeline Merinuk
remove makeup wrong

Most of our daily tasks don’t require much thought. Things like showering, eating, and using the bathroom are second nature by now, but what if we told you there was a more efficient way to do everyday activities you’ve forgotten about? Correct Me If I’m Wrong… is DoctorOz.com’s new series about improving even the most mundane tasks you tackle on a daily basis so you can live happier and healthier. 

If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do after an exhausting day is remove your makeup. But, I’ve struggled with acne and other skincare issues since early high school, so I know that removing my makeup is an absolutely crucial step in my nightly skincare routine. Even though it can be a bit of a painstaking process, it’s a necessary first step if you want to prevent common issues, such as acne and dull skin. There are lots of different methods that people use to remove their makeup, and everyone has a routine that works best for them — but did you know that there’s a good chance that you could be taking off your makeup wrong? Removing makeup can seem like a pretty simple task that people assume is mindless, but doing it wrong could have some seriously damaging effects on your skin.

To find out what methods are most effective, DoctorOz.com spoke with Dr. David Lortscher, MD, and CEO and Founder of Curology, to get some more insight on makeup removal hacks. Here are all the makeup removal facts you need to know if you want to have fresh, glowing, clear skin (which we know you do.) 

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The Biggest Mistake People Make When Removing Makeup

Skin is a vital organ in our body — and you need to take care of it as such. Just like you would protect your liver by not drinking copious amounts of alcohol, or protect your heart by eating heart-healthy foods, you need to make sure you’re taking care of your skin by being gentle with it.

Dr. Lortscher says this means that you shouldn’t viciously scrub your skin with physical exfoliants or harshly wash your face. “Your skin does not need to be squeaky clean—tight skin that looks super shiny could actually be an indication that you’ve stripped the skin of its natural barrier,” says Lortscher. According to Lortscher, a gentle cleanser, labeled “fragrance-free” or “hypoallergenic,” or micellar water could be all you need. 

Don’t Remove Makeup With Facial Brushes

Whatever cleansing method you use, pay attention to how your skin reacts, and be careful not to over-exfoliate to ensure you don’t strip your skin of natural oils. If you’re scrubbing your face like you scrub the dishes after a really messy meal, you could be causing some serious damage to your skin, which is why Lortscher advises against using facial brushes to remove makeup. Using one could feel like you're getting as much gunk off your face as possible, but it could be overdoing it. 

They’re okay once in a while as a means of exfoliation, but using them too often, especially for someone with dry skin, could be very damaging and make your skin even drier. Lortscher’s biggest tip for being gentle while cleansing? Don’t wash your face with hot water, as it can easily irritate your skin.

Should I Use a Separate Cleanser for Face and Eyes?

Lortsher says that, while it is important to make sure all of your makeup gets off in your cleansing process, it may not be necessary to use separate cleansers for these two areas. Sometimes eye makeup (specifically waterproof eye makeup) can be tricky to remove, so if you’re struggling with removing your eye makeup, Lortscher suggests finding an oil-based eye makeup remover separate from your face cleanser. Lortscher also recommends using a micellar water remover, which is safe for every area of your face, including the eyes. No matter what cleansing products you’re using, just make sure you’re not over-scrubbing. 

Are Natural Products Better For Your Skin?

Do you know what your skin type is? If you find that you look shiny or greasy throughout the day, you probably have oily skin. Conversely, if you struggle with flaky patches, or feeling like your skin is tight and irritated, you probably have dry skin, says Dr. Lortscher. If you already know your skin type, you might also know that certain skin types warrant using certain cleansing products. For example, Lortscher suggests that oily skin types should use foaming cleansers, and dry skin types will find cleansings milks and gels more effective for their skin. 

Curious about whether you can use natural products, like olive oil, to remove makeup? Lortscher says most natural alternatives work on the skin, but you should avoid using coconut oil directly on your face. Removing your makeup with coconut oil can give you clogged pores, so while it might be a great alternative for cooking, or even as a hair mask, don’t (we reiterate: don’t) use it on your skin. Other natural oils, like olive oil and jojoba oil, are fine, says Lortscher. 

Avoid These Ingredients in Your Cleanser

There are also some ingredients that can linger in your makeup remover that aren’t good for your skin. Alcohol, which is commonly found in makeup removers, can irritate dry skin and damage your protective barrier. Lortscher says you don’t need to avoid alcohol as an ingredient completely, but be wary of its effects, especially if you have dry skin.

Isopropyl myristate is another ingredient that Lortscher suggests staying away from. This ingredient can lead to clogged pores, similar to coconut oil. Lortscher says to avoid using removers with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which can trigger acne. Finally, Lortscher suggests searching for products that say “non-comedogenic”; “non-acnegenic”; “does not clog pores”; or “won’t cause breakouts.”

There’s one thing we know for certain — if you’re not removing your makeup at all, you might face some serious skincare issues in the future. Acne and irritated skin are two things Dr. Lotscher says can occur when you don’t cleanse, and that’s just the start of the plethora of issues that could arise. A word to the wise: Sacrifice those three minutes that cleansing takes out of your night. It’ll make you and your skin happier in the long run. 

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Article written by Madeline Merinuk