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Best makeup removers for fresh, clean skin

Whether you’re removing a full face of makeup or simply want to freshen up your skin before bed, these are the Mumsnetter- and expert-approved makeup removers to add to your skincare stash.

By Melanie Macleod | Last updated Mar 22, 2022

woman cleaning face with cotton pad

Some of us find removing our makeup at bedtime a chore. For others, it’s a self-care moment at the end of a busy day. Whichever camp you fall into, we can all agree that a hard-working makeup remover is essential for fresh, clean skin. 

The best makeup removers make light work of everything from heavy foundation to waterproof mascara without needing to scrub at your eyes. Indeed, makeup removers have come a long way since the days of thick, creamy lotions applied to a cotton ball. From balm cleansers to micellar water, there’s a formula out there to suit every skin type. 

So we scoured the Mumsnet forums for Mumsnetter-recommended makeup removers and, with a beauty journalist in our midst, we’ve tested our fair share too, so have added our honest thoughts, from new launches to old classics. 

Our edit of 2022’s best makeup removers takes into consideration how quickly each product removes makeup, if it needs to be part of a double-cleansing routine and how long it lasts, because nobody wants to be buying a new bottle of makeup remover every other week. 

Here are the best makeup removers to buy this year.

1. Best overall makeup remover: The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter

the body shop chamomile cleansing butter

Price: £12.49 | Buy now from Amazon

“Best I’ve ever used. Gentle but effective. No stinging.” (Loved by Mumsnet user StarksForTheWin)

This makeup remover comes up time and time again on our forums, with Mumsnetters praising it for how well it removes every scrap of makeup with next to no effort. Being a butter, it has a softer, more lotion-like texture than cleansing balms, which means it doesn’t need any rubbing to fully emulsify.

To use, simply massage a few blobs all over your face, then wipe away with a damp washcloth. Makeup slides off without any scrubbing, although be aware that you may look like a reject from Kiss before you wipe it off.

This is a vegan makeup remover, with a fresh camomile scent. As it’s so nourishing, it’s a great choice if you typically get dry skin in the winter or if you’re experiencing redness or dryness due to perimenopause. One tub lasts a good few months too, so it also gets value-for-money points from beauty enthusiasts.

Pros

  • Good for dry skin
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Messy until you wipe it off

2. Best budget makeup remover: Nivea Daily Essentials Double Effect Eye Makeup Remover

Nivea makeup remover

Price: £3.55 (125ml) | Buy now from Amazon 

“The Nivea one you shake is fantastic and cheap as chips! I used to use Clinique Take The Day Off and this is better for a fraction of the cost.” (Rated by Mumsnet user millymoo1202)

For an affordable makeup remover, you can’t go wrong with this Nivea classic. It’s bi-phase, which means you need to shake it to mix the water and oil in order to activate its makeup-removing powers.

Apply to a reusable cotton pad, hold it over your eyes for a few seconds then wipe to remove all eye makeup. Mumsnetter Spaceunicorn6789 says she usually wears three coats of mascara and this removes them all with ease.

The oil content means that the Nivea Daily Essentials Double Effect makes light work of even waterproof mascara. Plus, it’s nourishing for lashes and, because there’s no need to rub to wipe eye makeup off, it helps to keep them safe too. It swipes away makeup with zero pulling, so this is especially good for sensitive eyes that are easily irritated by makeup remover.

The only downside is this formula is only designed to remove eye makeup so, if you’re wearing foundation, you’ll need to do a double cleanse.

Pros

  • Kind to lashes
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Only removes eye makeup

3. Best luxury makeup remover: Lancôme Bi-Facil Makeup Remover

Lancome makeup remover

Price: £19.20 (125ml) | Buy now from Lookfantastic 

“After a lifetime of buying cheaper products, I've just treated myself to Lancôme Bi-Facil eye makeup remover. Pricey but brilliant as every bit of mascara comes off really easily! I've got very sensitive eyes and there's no stinging at all.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet RichlyFruited)

Given that you can use a makeup remover most days, there’s no harm in treating yourself to a luxury one every once in a while – or asking for it as a gift.

The Lancôme Bi-Facil Makeup Remover makes light work of heavy mascara and even false lash glue if you’re a falsies wearer. Just press a cotton pad soaked in the elixir on each eyelid and it does all the heavy liftings for you. Like the Nivea Daily Essentials Double Effect Eye Makeup Remover, this is a bi-phase makeup remover, with oil to loosen your makeup and water to wipe your skin clean. There’s no oily residue left on your lashes and your eye area feels soft and hydrated after use.

Again, this product is just for eye makeup so remember to buy another makeup remover to cleanse your skin of SPF and foundation if you typically wear base makeup.

Pros

  • Removes waterproof mascara
  • Nourishes the eye area

Cons

  • Only removes eye makeup

4. Best eco-friendly makeup remover: Skin Proud Clear Off Microfibre Cleansing Pads

skin proud makeup remover pads

Price: £12.95 for 2 | Buy now from Beauty Bay

Not your traditional makeup remover, granted, but the Skin Proud Clear Off Microfibre Cleansing Pads are well worth a try if you’re trying to be more eco-friendly with your beauty choices. This soft pink pad takes away every scrap of foundation, mascara and eyeliner with nothing more than water.

Not to be confused with reusable makeup remover pads that need product on them to work, this is made with microfibre that clings onto dirt and makeup, lifting it from your skin. The pads can be used up to 200 times, making them better value and longer-lasting than most makeup removers. Victoria Beckham is a fan of this way of cleansing, telling beauty website Byrdie, "I love how it helps get to the core of my pores for deep makeup removal.”

While Victoria favours the Face Halo brand of makeup remover pad, they’re white, rather than pink, so can look grubby quickly.

Reusable cleansing pads do take some looking after – they can be washed in your washing machine - but don’t use fabric softener or conditioner as that ruins the power of the microfibre.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • Cost-effective

Cons

  • Needs to be washed in the washing machine after each use Best mic

5. Best micellar water makeup remover: Garnier Micellar Water

garnier micellar water

Price: £2.50 (400ml) | Buy now from Amazon

“This gets rid of all eye makeup, even waterproof mascara or long-lasting liquid eyeliner.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter TraceyBeakerSoYeah)

Garnier says they sell a bottle of this iconic micellar water every five seconds and there are several different versions available, including the latest launch, the Garnier Vitamin C Micellar Water, which launched in early 2022 with vitamin C added to the mixture to illuminate and brighten the skin.

The original version is most popular with Mumsnetters, who praise it for how well it removes all makeup, with many saying they swapped out their face wipes in favour of this formula.

Micellar water is great for a quick cleanse, a freshen up in the morning, or a first cleanse to take away your makeup before you go in for a deeper cleanse with foaming cleanser or cleansing jelly.

It’s fragrance-free, so is good for sensitive skin, and includes glycerin, which supports the skin barrier - key for keeping skin healthy.

Pros

  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Needs to be followed by a second cleanse

6. Best cleansing balm makeup remover: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

clinique take the day off

Price: £23.80 (125ml) | Buy now from Lookfantastic

“Clinique Take The Day Off is a balm so you only need a tiny bit and a pot lasts ages. It’s the only thing that gets all my makeup off and doesn’t make my eyes and skin sore.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter Vestastilly)

Cleansing balms are a staple in a double-cleansing routine, melting away every scrap of makeup and nourishing the skin in one simple step.

This makeup remover comes up time and time again on our forums, with Mumsnetters impressed by how long a pot lasts and how little you need to use to remove your makeup.

It’s fragrance-free and, while the balm looks solid in the pot, it easily slides out and turns into an oil on contact with your face, without leaving a greasy film behind.

One thing to note with this is that it’s designed as a makeup remover, not to remove impurities or dirt, so you’ll need to do a double cleanse with a second makeup remover to fully cleanse the skin.

Pros

  • Fast-working
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Needs to be followed by a second cleanse

7. Best eye makeup remover: Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water

bioderma miceller water

Price: £9 (500ml) | Buy now from Amazon

“I use the Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Solution. It's brilliant and it's a cult classic among makeup artists. It's cheap too.” (Rated by Mumsnet user Puddles1234)

Another iconic product, this is similar to the Garnier Micellar Water and is ideal for quickly and effectively removing eye makeup without tugging or causing irritation.

It’s pricier than Garnier’s offering, though very similar – the higher price tag is down to how well respected this is in the beauty industry (Bioderma claims to have invented micellar water), but it’s not necessarily better than the Garnier.

It’s no-nonsense in the most pleasing of ways: fragrance-free yet super-efficient. Just splash it onto a cotton pad, wipe and you’re done.

It’s a staple in makeup pro’s kits during Fashion Week and is loved by model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as well as Kourtney Kardashian. It makes your skin feel fresh and clean, without any tightness.

For a full face of makeup, we’d use a more intensive makeup remover like The Body Shop’s Chamomile Cleansing Butter, but for eye makeup only or to freshen the skin post-workout, this is a great option to have in your beauty arsenal.

Pros

  • Kind to sensitive skin
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Expensive compared to similar products

8. Best makeup remover for mature skin: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

liz earle cleanse and polish cleanser

Price: £17 (100ml) | Buy now from Amazon 

“Quite creamy so good for older /drier skin and no residue left.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Jacksback)

Liz Earle’s Cleanse and Polish is the brand’s hero product, known for clearing the skin of makeup and exfoliating it too for a clearer, brighter complexion.

Older skin can often become dull as cell turnover slows down, leaving dead skin cells sitting on the surface. This product gently clears them for a more radiant look, while still being gentle on the skin.

It’s a very rich, thick makeup remover, which cocoons the skin to make it feel nourished and comfortable, but do make sure to use the cotton cloth that comes with it to wipe it off. It’s a thin, muslin-style cloth and does the trick of ridding your face of this cleanser and exfoliating at the same time. If you try it with a fluffier flannel, you’ll find residue is left behind.

Pros

  • Exfoliates
  • Nourishing

Cons

  • Hard to remove

9. Best makeup remover for dry skin: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

the ordinary squalane cleanser

Price: £5.50 (50ml) | Buy now from Selfridges

“I used to double cleanse, but I have started using the Squalane Cleanser from The Ordinary and it removes everything the first time! I wouldn't use anything else now.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user AntennaReborn)

Squalane is a super-hydrating ingredient that keeps skin soft and supple, so adding it to a makeup remover is hugely beneficial for dry skin.

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser comes out of the tube in a balm texture, but rub it between your hands for 10 seconds and it turns into an oil which spreads easily on your face, taking mascara and base makeup with it. Rinse off and you’re left with a clean, soft complexion. It cares for the skin barrier and calms down red, angry skin too.

Reviewers on The Ordinary website say a tube of this doesn’t last very long, with some noting that it only lasts two weeks, so while it’s not hugely expensive, it’s not the best value for money. Having said that, if you’re looking for something to repair your skin barrier after damaging it, this is well worth a go.

Pros

  • Hydrating
  • Fast-acting

Con

  • Doesn’t last long

10. Best makeup remover gel: Oskia Renaissance Gel

oskia cleanser

Price: £36 (100ml) | Buy now from Amazon

“The Oskia one is like cleansing your face with Turkish delight... Smells divine.” (Loved by Mumsnet user jellycatspyjamas)

For a spa-like feeling when you’re washing your face, this high-end makeup remover should be top of your list. It’s sumptuously-scented with a luxurious texture that melts into the skin.

Gel cleansers are great for unclogging pores and lifting bacteria, so they’re the ideal choice for acne-prone or oily skin.

The Oskia Renaissance Gel turns into oil on contact with your skin, then becomes milky when you add water, whisking away all signs of makeup and leaving just the pleasing rose scent behind.

Pros

  • Luxurious
  • Good for acne-prone skin

Cons

  • Expensive

11. Best makeup remover for sensitive skin: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

cerave hydrating cleanser

Price: £7.10 (236ml) | Buy now from Amazon

“I’m a recent convert to CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. It's fantastic. Doesn't sting eyes, takes all my makeup off and doesn't leave skin tight. Well impressed.” (Rated by Mumsnet user GuyFawkesDay)

CeraVe is a US brand that’s been making waves with beauty editors ever since it landed on UK shores in 2018. The whole collection is fuss-free and effective and, while it may not look beautiful in your bathroom, it works hard and has an impressive ingredients lineup given the price.

It has hyaluronic acid to hydrate as well as ceramides to protect the skin barrier, plus it’s non-foaming so won’t irritate dry or sensitive skin. It has a fairly creamy texture but feels lightweight on the skin and is undetectable after you wash it off.

Reserve this for days when you wear less makeup – while the CeraVe does remove makeup, if you’ve got a full face on, it will take longer to remove than with other make up removers in our edit.

Pros

  • Hydrates skin
  • Budget price

Cons

  • Takes longer to remove makeup

12. Best makeup remover for acne-prone skin: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

glossier milky jelly cleanser

Price: £15 (177ml) | Buy now from Glossier 

“Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser leaves my face really fresh and isn't drying. I used to have horrendous hormonal acne and don't get a single spot now. Also sorts out my dryness.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user FrankReynolds)

Another US brand that’s a huge hit here in the UK, Glossier is one of the coolest minimalist beauty brands out there and their skincare packs a real punch.

This makeup remover feels soft and bouncy on the skin, with a fun-to-use jelly texture that’s gentle on irritated skin. It uses the same ingredient as contact lens solution, so it won’t irritate your eyes, plus it has five skin-softening ingredients inside, so you don’t even need to follow with a moisturiser if you don’t want to. It makes for a great introduction to skincare for any teens in your life looking to start a cleansing routine.

It helps your skin to feel fresh and clean with just a couple of pumps, although we recommend using it twice to remove heavy makeup – it was definitely designed with Glossier’s pared-back makeup look in mind. Massage into a dry face, wipe off with a damp cloth and you’re good to go.

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Softening

Cons

  • Better for light makeup

13. Best makeup remover wipes: Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Wipes Biodegradable

simple biodegradabe wipes

Price: £1.65 (20 wipes) | Buy now from Boots

“I have switched to Simple Biodegradable Wipes... They seem good so far.” (Tested and recommended by Mumsnet user wizzler)

Face wipes have a bad rep for being unkind to the environment, though sometimes they’re useful especially when you’re travelling or at the gym. In these instances, reach for Simple’s Biodegradable Wipes.

They’re soft on the skin so there’s no tugging, plus they’re made from sustainably-sourced plant based fibres, which biodegrade in your compost in 42 days, which is even faster than pine needles.

Face wipes that call themselves biodegradable can be a case of greenwashing (because everything biodegrades at some point) but, in this instance, it’s a claim with backing. They’re fragrance-free and vegan too.

Pros

  • Good for on the go
  • Kind to sensitive skin

Cons

  • Not a deep cleanse

14. Best oil makeup remover: Body Shop Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil

body shop chamomile cleansing oil

Price: £15.93 | Buy now from Amazon

“I've tried so many [makeup removers], including several that cost a lot more than this does, and it's the only thing that properly removes my daily eyeliner and mascara.” (Rated by Mumsnet user ginyogarepeat)

The Body Shop’s much-loved chamomile cleanser also comes as an oil if this is your preferred makeup remover formula. The Body Shop recommends using this silky oil as the first step in your cleansing routine, in place of micellar water.

It’s made with a collection of nourishing oils such as camomile, sunflower and papaya oil, and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy. A little goes a long way with just a few drops powerful enough to loosen layers of mascara or long-lasting lipstick.

Pros

  • Gentle on skin
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Needs to be part of a double cleanse

15. Best makeup remover for travel: Frances Prescott Tri Balm

frances prescott tri balm cleanser

Price: £49 (70g) | Buy now from Feelunique

“The cleanser I love the most is Frances Prescott Tri Balm. It's heaven for my dry, sensitive skin.” (Recommended by Mumsnet used TheVanguardSix)

Perfect for when you’re travelling with a liquid allowance, this solid cleansing balm removes makeup like a dream. Just scribble it directly onto your face, rub it in and then remove it with a damp cloth for a completely clear, fresh-feeling face.

This is undeniably expensive, but it has a highly-effective blend of oils to care for your skin, including sweet almond and sunflower oil, plus you’re paying for the convenience. One thing to bear in mind: if you wear heavy eye makeup, the stick does end up looking a little grubby, with mascara residue turning it black after repeated use.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Nourishing

Cons

  • Messy

How do I choose the best makeup remover?

From micellar waters to cleansing balms, oil makeup removers to the classic lotions, there are many different makeup remover formulas to choose from. So how do you know which is best for you?

It comes down to two main factors:

  1. Your skin type
  2. How much makeup you wear

If you’re a mascara-only kind of person, we recommend a micellar water as this will remove makeup gently and freshen up your skin.

If you wear heavier makeup, a double cleanse is recommended. Start with a micellar water or eye makeup remover to take off your cosmetics without causing irritation, followed by a second cleanser (oil, gel, jelly or foaming) to cleanse your skin of impurities.

If you’ve got sensitive skin, look for an unfragranced makeup remover so it doesn’t irritate. If you’ve got dry skin, look for a formula that will nourish your skin with soothing oils.

The price of makeup remover won’t always indicate that it’s better at removing makeup (some of our favourites cost less than a coffee), but normally reflect skin-loving ingredients in the formula.

How often should I use makeup remover?

You should use a makeup remover every day. Makeup removers not only remove makeup, but also SPF (which we should wear every day, come rain or shine) and rid your skin of pollution and daily debris. 

On days when you haven’t gone out and you’ve left your skin totally bare, a wipe with a micellar water-soaked cotton pan in the evening will do the trick. 

How to remove your makeup for the best results 

A double-cleanse is best for getting every scrap of makeup. 

  1. Soak a reusable cotton pad in micellar water, hold it on your eyelid for a few seconds and wipe. Holding it on for a few seconds will fully break down the makeup. Alternatively, use a cleansing balm to remove makeup instead, such as Clinique’s Take The Day Off.
  2. Remember this step just removes makeup, rather than pollution and grime. 
  3. For fully clean skin, follow with a gel, cream or foaming cleanser to rid your skin of dirt and get it perfectly bare. 

What is the best makeup remover to buy in the UK? 

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter gets our (and many-a-Mumsnetter’s) vote for the best makeup remover money can buy. It comes in both a butter texture and an oil, but the cleansing butter formula is the most popular. 

A small amount is enough to banish all makeup, plus it doesn’t irritate the skin, is vegan and has a subtle, fresh smell. It transforms into an oil when massaged into the skin, making it ultra-gentle.

It’s great for removing all makeup and SPF and, because a little goes a long way, it’s good value for money too. 

How we chose our recommendations

Our Swears By edits are compiled by journalists with expertise in the areas they’re writing about. 

They use a variety of sources to compile considered product selections, analysing Mumsnet forum recommendations alongside independent consumer reviews from reputable sources and retailers such as Boots, Lookfantastic and Amazon, as well as including products they’ve tried and tested themselves, resulting in a trustworthy, in-depth and honest set of product reviews. 

Melanie Macleod has been working as a beauty journalist since 2016, so has tested the great and good of skincare, and knows what works and what's worth spending your money on. 

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.