makeup removal

1. eyes
2. rest of face (and wherever else you’re making yourself up… as it were…)


If I remember, I do this before going to bed. Sometimes I don’t, but clean teeth, go to bed, and go to sleep. Not always in that order; often going to sleep precedes other actions. Sometimes I remove eye makeup in the morning (see also, for why this is a daily event: the lash question).

Tools: hands plus one of the following:

  • cotton-wool pads: the better-quality, double-sided, non-flocking “Swiss” ones, either soaked in hot water (for a tubing mascara) or in oil (for regular waterproof).
  • home-made pads made from old cotton T-shirts; see cleaning tools (face)

Oil: the current general-purpose oil mix; see multi-taskers. Have also used neat sunflower, grapeseed, safflower, borage/starflower, rice bran, sweet almond oil. Olive and jojoba–a very popular choice–proved too heavy and broke me out. Errm, badly, and fast (that is: itchiness and redness within 5 min, full bumps and spotiness within 15).

Method (for everything except tubing mascara):
Soak pad in oil. I tuck my thumb and some pad under the lower lashes, and gently squeeze the lashes, holding them for a moment, then wipe down over the lashes themselves, so as to clean all sides of them. Repeat for upper lashes. And other eye. No rubbing needed: rubbing and pulling tend to be what loosens lashes and causes them to fall out. (This is a rough approximation of the technique met in spas/beauticians, ex. as deployed by Clarins).  Finally, hold a washcloth (or two more pads, if you’re being super-hygienic and lavish) soaked in cold water over eyes for a moment. This cools lids, tightens. Then (pre-cleanse and/or/etc.) clean rest of face as per usual.

Tubing mascara:
The tubes come off very well in a warm shower, pretty much on their own. Great if you shower at night; to be honest, a good non-irritating mascara (i.e. a good mascara…) should be fine to sleep in, and I do so from time to time (ahem – nearly always, actually), and just take off mascara in the shower in the morning. If doing this, I’ll usually then remove other eye makeup with oil afterwards. Or before–doesn’t seem to make a great difference; if I’m not showering until the morning, I’ll remove other eye makeup with oil in the evening, then do the mascara in shower in the morning.


I haven’t done the Full Frontal Face for a while, but would usually clean face twice. First time with some sort of makeup remover; second time with my usual cleanser. Makeup removing precleansing things that have worked thus far:

Cleansing oils (NB: NOT oil cleansing, or the oil cleansing method, or ODM).

  • Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel (the gel-to-oil-to-milk thingie) – got big sample, used it up, liked but not enough to buy a full one.
  • Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse: disliked, irritation
  • DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (eventual clogs)
  • Garden of Wisdom Cleansing Oil: nice: it’s a keeper–also great for cleaning out bottles, travel containers, and various other forms of glorified washing-up
  • Silk Naturals apricot-based cleansing oil: my favourite so far. The most basic, minimalist, and lightweight of those used; the only thing better would be making your own, from your oil of choice and Cromollient or other emulsifier.
  • less keen on various others that are scented (inc. some major department-store brands); lovely packaging mind you, but a fail on doing what it says on the tin and doing so without doing anything else, i.e. bonus nefarious side-effects like zits and sneezes.

Plain oil: applied to face with hands, rub around, then wash. Done successfully–i.e. face was clean, there was no irritation, no longer-term clogging, and skin wasn’t dried out. I’ve used whatever my current general-purpose oil or oil blend happened to be (see multi-taskers), often using the bottle from under the bathroom sink rather than the mix-bottle that lives in the shower, because yes, I am that lazy of an evening. Criteria for selection: readily available from supermarket or pharmacy (or health-food/eco-store), cheap, fine on my skin–usually corresponds to zero-ratings for irritability and comedogenicity, and recommendations from doctors and eczema support groups–plus low scent, long shelf-life. The most frequent ones have been:

  • mineral oil: the plain stuff, that doesn’t contain anything else. Not, I stress, “baby oil” (unless it is, as is the case here in Canada, available in an unfragranced version that is just mineral oil). Sources: supermarkets and drugstores in the more pharmacy-angled aisle, or in baby section. UK: minimal extra ingredients in good versions from Boots Expert Baby and Elave.
  • sunflower seed oil: the most basic, cheap stuff you can find in the cooking-oil aisle of any supermarket (or grocer’s, deli, other food store). More on this oil later: for present purposes, look for high polyunsaturates. This usually corresponds to cheap and refined, and not to expensive, unrefined, virgin, first-pressed, cold-pressed, and organic. Brands used: any, including supermarket own-brand.
  • safflower seed oil: ditto
  • sesame seed oil: ditto: usually bought from cosmetic-oils aisle, careful on the cooking ones, as they’re often made from toasted sesame seeds. Which is all very lovely, smells gorgeous, and I’m fond of cooking with and eating the stuff: but quite different from oil made from raw seeds.
  • jojoba oil: small quantities added to the mix. Skin usually OK with up to 20%, if unhappy I reduce it to 10. Have used organic and not, haven’t noticed any difference in results between them. Positive of organic: more eco-friendly, re. sustainable agriculture.  Found in cosmetic aisle of eco-/health-food stores (and some supermarkets), or else in the massage section. Brands used: Aura cacia, Desert Essence, NOW.
  • sweet almond oil: heavier percentage used in winter and/or on drier skin. Source: same as jojoba.

Cream cleansers: either used properly, rinsed off, followed by main cleanser. Or, a marvellous slightly lazy approach, just applied, massaged gently over skin using hands, and removed with a cotton-wool pad or similar, soaked with water, or other watery liquid (ex. hydrosols, toners–more on which coming up in one of next posts).

  • Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser (no-rinse)
  • Clinique Comforting Cream Cleanser
  • Earth Science ADE Creamy Cleanser
  • Weleda Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion
Image at top: Zazzle

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