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Makeup Removal | From daily tips to special occasions

Makeup removal does not necessarily require special products to remove depending on the types and quantities of products used. Read more...



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What's the deal with makeup removers, why can't I just use soap and water?

Makeup removal does not necessarily require special products to remove depending on the types and quantities of products used.

Here are the most common mistakes I see with makeup removal:

  1. Makeup wipes. There are times when makeup wipes may be necessary, but not as a matter of routine. I often see persistent redness, irritation, dry skin around the eyes and base of the neck, and itching from makeup wipes. The patch testing I have performed in these cases tends to reveal preservative allergies. I favor patients using either Vaseline or Ponds Cold Cream on a tissue or cotton ball to gently remove makeup.

  2. Manual exfoliation. If makeup does not wash easily with soap and water, then chances are the oil or wax bases of the products that remain may require a different method for removal. There are some that have a tendency to think they need to “scrub” the remaining makeup residue off of their skin. Inevitably if you resort to manual exfoliation to remove makeup, you will likely take some normal skin with it. Instead, remember back to high school chemistry- hydrophilic and hydrophobic. Hydrophilic or water-based products will wash easily with soap and water. Hydrophobic or oil-based products will need a product that is similar to help remove it. This is where a petroleum jelly-based product or moisturizer will work better with less irritation to remove these products.

  3. Alcohol-based toners/astringents. I get that it feels good to use these products at times and that there is a satisfaction of sorts from seeing dirt come off the skin and lingering on a cotton ball. However, alcohol-based astringents will likely begin to irritate the skin or run the risk of altering the pH of the skin and leading to further irritation.

  4. Forgetting to moisturize. After removing makeup, some superficial skin cells will be lost in the process. Always keep in mind that the skin is an organ, it is a barrier to the environment. It needs to be cared for and sustained in order for it to function properly. Rehydrating the skin after makeup removal will help restore and protect the skin.



Is mineral oil in some makeup removers going to clog my pores?

A study from 2005 actually demonstrated that mineral oil itself is actually not comedogenic. Although true that anecdotally some will find that their acne can worsen with use, it has not been confirmed by studies. That being said, using mineral oil to remove makeup versus using mineral oil for skin hydration are two separate uses. Mineral oil applied to a cotton round or cotton ball to gently rub across the skin where makeup needs to be removed will gently remove makeup and leave minimal amounts of mineral oil behind. This is very different from applying mineral oil liberally over the skin.

Can I use coconut oil to remove makeup?

Coconut oil has been shown to be comedogenic. However, it also has anti-inflammatory effects. Given that for removal of Halloween makeup the use will be minimal and temporary it is not likely to contribute to significant acne flares. The key to remember is that when using these as makeup removers, much of the product will remain on the cotton round and attached to the makeup being removed as opposed to being left behind on the skin.

What does comedogenic mean?

I do always like to point out what comedogenic truly means when asked these types of questions and how testing is performed. To make the claim noncomedogenic, testing is performed over 21 days with cyanoacrylate biopsies before and after counting the number of open comedones (blackheads) before and after the use of the product. If there is no increase in open comedones then it’s labeled noncomedogenic. This testing does not consider closed comedones or whiteheads, pus bumps, or inflammation. Please note that this means 3 weeks of using the product, not a single use.

What are the best methods to physically wash your face?

For daily face washing, simply using a cleanser applied with your hands to your face is safe and reliably less likely to irritate or aggravate your skin. For the purposes of removing Halloween makeup or stage makeup as a temporary need, a washcloth may not be unreasonable to help trap and remove excess product and pigment. Initially washing the face with your hands using soap and water then gently blot with a washcloth. This can be followed by gently removing the further product by moistening the washcloth and rubbing the skin using a circular motion. Circular motions tend to be recommended as they reduce the shearing forces against the skin that can risk bruising or excess irritation.

For daily face washing, I personally recommend that my patients avoid both a loofah and a washcloth. It’s best to just wash using our hands! Loofahs have been well-documented reservoirs of bacteria. They have been shown to grow Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, and more!! (I can send you the links to each of these articles below) If you couple the fact that the bacteria are trapped in the fibers of the loofah and that these sponges are used to exfoliate the skin, the risk of infection is much higher. Towels are considered to be a ‘fomite’ that can transmit disease as well. Not only can they hold bacteria, but viruses are also known to be transmitted by contact as well.

Our hands can be easily cleaned! I recommend avoiding devices for our skin as the ability to effectively clean these after each use is limited. If you are seeking some exfoliation that these can provide, try using scrubs that rinse down the drain. Sugar scrubs, apricot scrubs, or any kind of gritty cleanser can achieve the same results. The benefit is that these are not reused as they rinse down the drain!

Are there any wash clothes you would recommend for the face?

If your skin tends to be sensitive, a smooth textured washcloth may be ideal. The soft texture against the skin will be less likely to irritate overall. Bamboo-based and microfiber washcloths have a soft feel and can be washed and reused numerous times. Cotton is probably the most common to find. These are reasonable however some blends and weaves can have a rough texture or feel.

Besides microfiber towels, are there any other clothes or materials people can use to wipe off their makeup?

Most washcloths will work to wipe away makeup. The use of a product on the washcloth can only enhance the ability of the washcloth to work recognizing that the washcloth can only accomplish the task of makeup removal through physical exfoliation of the products.

When wiping the face with micellar, what’s the best material to use?

Microfiber towels tend to work well with micellar water. This is likely due to the absorbency of microfiber that holds the micellar water well so that it can get to work on the skin. Cotton rounds are also very reasonable to use and Qtips are for smaller areas.


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