There’s a Right and Wrong Way to Remove Your Eye Makeup—and One May Be Aging You

When the end of the day rolls around and it’s time to remove every last trace of your makeup—because you know going to sleep with it on is a skin care sin—all you need is a little soap, water and some makeup remover, right? Technique doesn’t really matter as long as you get rid of it all. Guess again, because the way you take off your makeup does make a difference in your skin.

Most of us tug, pull and rub at our eyes—this can irritate skin—to get off whatever makeup lingers. “Globally, the eye area is certainly one of the most difficult to address because you need an efficient removal of makeup, particularly for mascara, and the eye area is very delicate,” says Muriel Pujos, director of scientific communication for Philosophy.

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But if you don’t get all of your makeup off your eyes, it can actually do damage—scary, we know. “Eye makeup can build up over time, which can cause damage to the eyelash follicle. It can become clogged and unable to produce healthy lashes,” says Kelli J Bartlett, GLAMSQUAD director of makeup artistry.

Because the skin is thin and delicate and not all makeup removers are strong enough to stand up to the task of erasing all of your makeup, Pujos says you need to make sure you’re using a remover that’s really efficient. “That’s why we suggest using a specific combination, like Philosophy Purity Cleanser 3-in-1 ($24), that is suitable for sensitive skin yet efficient enough where it can remove pollutants from skin.” Another good one to try: Lancôme Bi-Facil ($30), which doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy or oily. “Just be mindful of makeup wipes that are intended for the skin. They can sometimes be too harsh,” says Bartlett.

So, what’s the best way to really get rid of every last drop of makeup without doing damage to your skin? Bartlett suggests soaking a cotton pad in a gentle yet effective eye makeup remover and then placing the pad on the eye, letting it sit for about 15 seconds. “Then, begin to gently wiggle the pad back and forth, lightly, to loosen any mascara. Next, open the eye and remove any excess makeup around the lash line with a Q-tip soaked in remover.”

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