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Every makeup-wearing lady knows the exquisite agony of pulling a perfect white tee over her head only to smear the collar with her foundation. Not to worry! There is always hope, no matter how dark a shade of MAC lipstick you go in for or how much bronzer you just spilled down the front of your blouse.
Here's how to get all manner of makeup stains out of your clothing — because that electric blue mascara looks much better on your lashes than it does on your sweater.
Here's the biggest problem with lipstick stains: Unlike most other kinds of stains, which tend to fall into neat categories like 'protein' (sweat, blood, dairy) or 'tannin' (tea, coffee, red wine), lipstick is a combination stain, both waxy and pigmented, which makes it trickier to remove from your favorite blouse.
Tricky though it may be to get a smear of lip gloss off of fabric, there is a secret. And I'm going to tell it to you!
The secret is rubbing alcohol. Yup! Just good old rubbing alcohol that you can get at the drugstore for a few dollars. To use it on a lipstick stain, dab it using a rag or cotton ball, repeating as necessary until the stain is gone entirely. It may take a few applications, and a bit of patience, but you will be amazed that such a common and inexpensive household product can take out such a nasty stain.
If the lipstick mark is older and more set-in, or is just especially dark and difficult to remove, a specialty product like Carbona Stain Devils #6, which is designed for use on grass, dirt and makeup, will save the day.
Mascara and Eyeliner Stains
Mascara and eyeliner also fall into that combination stain category, annoyingly enough. Unlike lipstick, which is waxy and pigmented, mascara leans more toward being a grease stain. For removing any kind of greasy stain — whether it be a splash of salad dressing, a splatter of oil that jumped out of a hot pan, or a rogue swipe of mascara — grab a bottle of Pine Sol, or the similar (but harder to find) Lestoil. Both of those products are multipurpose cleaners that can be used not only for mopping the floor, but also for removing grease stains from launderable fabrics. To use, dab a bit on the stain before washing as usual, being careful to check that the stain came out entirely before putting the garment in the dryer.
Powdered Makeup Stains
When it comes to makeup in powder form, like blush, bronzer or eyeshadow, our own instincts can be our worst enemy. It's understandable, when you notice that a bit of bronzer has spilled down the front of your shirt, that your immediate reaction is to brush it away — the problem with doing so is that can have the effect of spreading the spill over a bigger area, or worse, grinding it into the fabric. To avoid that, try blowing the powder away; a hairdryer is great for this, but you can, of course, just blow on your shirt like you'd blow away a stray eyelash that you've plucked off your cheek onto your fingertip (don't forget to make a wish!)
More serious staining can be treated with something you probably have close at hand — makeup remover. I know! It seems too good to be true, but the same remover you use to take makeup off of your face will also work on your clothes. The one thing to keep in mind, though, is that you don't want to flood the stain with too much liquid, which can cause the makeup to spread, leading to an even bigger problem. To avoid that, apply the remover to a cotton ball and dab it on the stain. Once the pigment is gone, flush the garment with cold running water to push any remaining remover out of the fabric.
Liquid Foundation and Self-Tanner Stains
When it comes to fresh foundation or self-tanner stains, if you catch them right away then try the rubbing alcohol or makeup remover tricks that work so well on lipstick and mascara stains. Baby wipes, or those ones they make for adults (you know the ones), are also a good way of getting fresh makeup stains out of clothing.
The problem, especially with self-tanner, is that you don't often notice the stain when it happens. And set-in tanner or makeup stains can be really hard to get out. For older stains, soaking the soiled garment in a solution of water and an oxygenated bleach like Clorox Oxi Magic or Oxo Brite for a few hours (yup, hours! The longer the better, in fact) before laundering as usual will help to salvage it from the rag pile.