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Your No-Fail Guide to Getting Eye Makeup Off Your Face

There's nothing worse than coming to the end of a long day and not being able to get your mascara off

You’re standing in front of the mirror in the morning, applying moisturizer and foundation and bronzer and a little blush, and then, the moment of truth. Do you want to wear eyeliner and mascara today? More to the point: Do you want to deal with the agonizing experience of trying to take it off your face later?


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We’ve all been there. No matter how many half-empty bottles or containers of makeup remover are strewn around our bathrooms, we all know what it feels like when, after multiple showers, and multiple hand towels, there still, somehow, seems to be eye makeup on your face.

It’s a process. One that we’re dying to learn how to many just a little easier.

We talked to a bunch of experts — actors, makeup artists, and plain old makeup enthusiasts — who happily wear and take off eye makeup every day. They’re not afraid of eyeliner and mascara, they all told us, and you shouldn’t be either.

What kind of eye makeup are you wearing? Are you wearing it everyday?

Donna Kim, Lifestyle editor and beauty blogger, DonnaDaily.com, New York City: "Everyday! My favorite eyeliner is Make Up For Ever Aqua XL eye pencil. I wear black on the bottom and dark brown on top. Sometimes if I didn't get much sleep the night before, I'll apply nude eyeliner on my bottom water line to open them up."

Laura Barganier, Senior Account Director, Day One Agency, New York City: "I loveStila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Intense Black. I really only wear eyeliner for special days (weekends, important meeting/presentation days, dates). Otherwise, I do an understated gold shadow on my lower lid and a lipstick on normal days. When I go more glam, I feel more ready for "special" days and people notice the difference. And the key if I want full, big,dramatic eyes is to add AS much lash drama as possible. This includes making sure you curl your lashes, use a lash plumper (Dior's is my fav) and then a couple coats of mascara (L'Oreal Voluminous is my longtime fav)."

Morgan Marcell, Actor, "Hamilton": "First things first, I never use waterproof mascara. Instead I use a volumizing (usually Maybeline) because I have straight lashes and it helps keep them curled. Waterproof will tear out your lashes!"

Alisa Sheridan, Senior Digital Strategist, Small Girls PR, Brooklyn, NYC: "My go to is Kanebo Sensai liquid eyeliner in dark brown. It's a bit hard to find, but I've been using it for 5 years and haven't found anything better. It has a rich, super-pigmented color and comes with a fine-tipped brush that lets you create very precise lines that last forever. If I'm in a rush, I'll use Bobbi Brown's Gel Eyeliner in "Chocolate Truffle" which is retractable. I hate sharpening eye pencils because inevitably, the tip breaks off and you've wasted half the product."

Aly Weisman, Senior Correspondent, Insider, NYC: "I've used Benefit's waterproof Bad Gal liner every day for about a decade. Seriously, if I had to choose only one makeup item to bring on a desert island, it would be eye liner."

Chinae Alexander, Event Planner and Fitness/Lifestyle Expert @getfitbrooklyn, NYC: "My favorite is Makeup Forever Aqua liner, it comes in a pot, is applied with a brush, and stays on ALL DAY! Can I get an Amen!? And I never leave home without it. You can’t fly without your wings."

What’s your take off routine?

Donna Kim: "I use an Olay makeup wipe to take it all off first, then I apply a generous amount of Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water on a cotton ball to remove excess makeup. Then I wash my face using Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser and apply a gentle toner by Mario Badescu. Then I'll apply Demarche Labs' FullFill Hyaluronic Acid Topical Wrinkle Filler near my eyes and my forehead, Biologique-Recherche's eye cream, and then finish it all off with Clarins' night cream."

Laura Barganier: "For taking off eye makeup, I try to "melt" mascara and any eye makeup first by running warm water over my eyes first. And then I use Pond's towelettes to remove all of my makeup. If I start first with the towelette I find you lose more lashes trying to take it all off."

Alisa Sheridan: "I always remove my makeup before bed unless I'm really exhausted. I'll dip a cotton pad in Bioderma H2O Micelle Solution to remove all of my makeup. Then dip a QTip in the makeup remover and do another swipe over my lashline to remove any last specks. That usually does the trick. Then I'll wash my face with Mario Badescu face wash or Cetaphil and dab on some Mario Badescu moisturizer."

Aly Weisman: "I love Sonia Kashuk's eye makeup remover. It gets every last drop of makeup off your eyes, but it's really gentle. It leaves your skin feeling hydrated and silky smooth, which is hard to accomplish when taking off eye makeup."

Morgan Marcell: "To get the makeup off, I tend to scrub my face with my hands and then go back over with a makeup remover wipe. That tends to get everything. It's a two-part system!"

Gabrielle Voight, professional makeup artist, ABC’s "The Chew": "I take Josie Maran facial cleansing oil and use it with a Burt's Bees makeup remover wipe. Any organic coconut oil paired with a tissue will take off any liner or waterproof mascara — just take out your contact lenses before trying this!"

What are your best eye makeup removal tips you think everyone should know?

Jill McKay, professional makeup artist, NYC: "Cotton is the best way to use any eye makeup remover but the secret is to dampen the cotton first. Dampen two cotton disks or squares (stay away from cotton balls), and apply your makeup remover to the pads. Press the cotton onto the your eyelid, hold for a few seconds, then gently sweep the eye liner away. When the cotton is already damp with water, the makeup will glide right off. If you’re just putting makeup remover on dry cotton it pulls the eye and drags makeup on the skin around it."

Donna Kim: "Please don't just use a makeup wipe when taking off your makeup. It doesn't get everything off your face and you still need to hydrate it."

Chinae Alexander: "Stop tugging on your eyes when removing, or say hello to new wrinkles. Also, immediately apply eye cream after removing your makeup!"

Alisa Sheridan: "When it comes to traveling, I'm a notoriously bad packer. I often forget to bring face wash or makeup remover with me. But in a pinch, some regular soap and a washcloth does the trick. Or a little vaseline. Also, The Ace Hotel’s Makeup Towels are genius."

Aly Weisman: "Follow [your makeup removal routine] with a good moisturizer on your clean skin. I love Peter Thomas Roth's Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizer for day and Om Aroma's Truffle Face Cream for night, it feels like putting butter on your skin and it gives a nice glow. And get your makeup off before you go to bed so you don’t wake up with racoon eyes!"

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