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Giving You the Benefit of My Years of Experience. And Idiocy.

By Amalah

I’ve recently gotten into the routine of wearing makeup most every day after years of complaining about the time primping stole from my much-needed beauty sleep. By which I mean laziness. But a new city and a new boyfriend and a new job has prompted me to strive for something more than the just-rolled-out-of-bed look that I would achieve by… just rolling out of bed.
I’m keeping my routine simple and short to help get myself out of the whiny, just-want-five-more-minutes mode. But the one thing that is really brining my motivation down is the part that comes late at night: makeup removal.
I’ve tried using my face wash to remove my makeup, but it doesn’t work for my eyes and I end up sleeping with mascara residue on the very insides of my lashes. The products I have tried that are made specifically for removing crusty eye makeup have either stung my eyes so severely I thought I was going blind, or left an oily patch on my eyelids that would also seep into my eyes, both causing vision problems. And I can’t! Take it! Any! More!
Please tell me that you have a miraculous and amazing eye makeup remover that will help me keep up my routine from falling back in to the greedy hands of my snooze button.

Well, first I must insert the obligatory blathering on about the Philosophy Purity Made Simple cleanser, even though I know this is only the fourteen millionth time I’ve mentioned it, but…it takes care of eye makeup too! I no longer use a separate eye makeup remover! I swear, one day this stuff is going to single-handedly solve the crisis in the Middle East.
(And I should really set up a macro for that stupid Sephora link, since I look it up for practically every other column.)
clinique solvent.jpgBut! If MIRACLE CLEANSERS FROM HEAVEN aren’t enough and you still want a separate eye makeup remover, I always used Clinique’s Rinse-Off Eye Makeup Solvent. Super easy and super gentle, with no oil or blindness-inducing burning. Just dab some on a cotton ball and sweep over your eye.
The BIG thing I learned, however, is to take your eye makeup off FIRST. And maybe this is something everybody just kind of knows, but nobody ever sent me the memo. I would wash my face first, thinking that would be enough and I might get by without using the solvent. And of course, it wasn’t enough. And since I’d already washed my face, I would depend on the solvent to remove EVERY bit of eye makeup — including the stuff that just kind of smeared to the side or under my eye. Thus, a lot of extra rubbing and irritation.
But it works so much better if you use it first, because you can spend less time rubbing your eyes to remove every trace of eye makeup. Use the cotton ball to get rid of your eyeliner and mascara, but then don’t worry about the smears. Your facial cleanser will take care of those. The solvent will loosen the clumpy stuff and allow you to get to the more sensitive areas of your eye, and then normal face washing finishes the job.
Now that I’ve typed all that out, it sounds extremely DUH-like. But that’s me: Easily Impressed By Duh-Like Things, and Then Compelled to Share Them With an Overly-Indulgent Internet.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • queenann

    March 9, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    You’re right about that- absolutely wash your face only AFTER the eye makeup removal.
    As a person who uses LOTS of waterproof mascara and other eye makeup, I swear by plain old baby oil (or baby oil gel if you are traveling) and a cotton square. While it feels weird if in your eyes, it doesn’t hurt, and it loosens up even the toughest crusty, clumpy stuff. Also- no scrubbing or pulling, just dab & sweep off.
    On the extras side, it conditions your lashes and I believe that it puts extra moisture around your eyes (never bad). And- cheap! $1-$4 depending on brand and size.

  • Susan

    March 9, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    I, too, am lazy late at night, and swear by face wipes instead of potions. They remove all makeup (including mascara) AND most brands don’t require rinsing with water afterward. Ponds makes some really nice smelling ones, but I’ve also used the generics without problem. I guess I should also mention that my skin is pretty easy going, so I’m not sure how these would work for those with oily or extremely sensitive skin.

  • Heather

    March 9, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Along the same lines as queenann’s comment, but with a slightly different twist — my dermatologist recommended baby shampoo to me years ago and I still swear by it. I prefer the Baby Magic brand to Johnson’s (which is too watery and not as effective). You can use a q-tip or just apply it with your fingers, and it gets everything off without leaving your face feeling oily afterwards. Plus, it is very non-irritating for my sensitive skin.

  • Kourtney_R

    March 9, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Oh! Oh my word! I never thought that this day would come, but here it is.
    The best eye makeup remover ever is from Mary Kay. It’s in a light purple bottle, looks like two seperate liquids until it’s shaken, & it works perfectly. It never stings. Even if you’re overtired & mayeba little the worse for martini-wear, and you forget to closeyour eye before taking your mascara off. It doesn’t leave oily residue. If you feel like trying a bunch of different lipsticks, it will remove them without leaving any stain behind on your mouth!
    It’s fantastic. The only downside is that you must invite a Mary Kay lady into your life to get it.
    There are other similar products – Lancome has virtually the same eye makeup remover, but it’s far more expensive. Of course, this cuts the Pink Caddy in your driveway out of the picture, so you can decide if you feel it’s worthwhile.

  • leahkay

    March 9, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    I second Susan’s recommend of the face wipes. I use Biore. They clean off all the makeup and leave my face feeling like it’s been treated with both an astringent and a moisturizer. The best part is that the wipes don’t require any water, which is awesome since I can’t ever manage to wash my face without soaking myself to the armpits. Also, face wipes = cheap = happy.

  • alana

    March 9, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Oh, I totally have to comment on this.
    I went through a long period of trying out many eye make-up removers, only to deem them all too oily or sting-y, or just plain ineffective. But then I found Johnson’s Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads and I will probably never use anything else. Not greasy, not sting-y, and totally takes off all your makeup. Plus, the pads come pre-soaked, which is totally more convenient than buying a liquid remover.
    Best product ever.

  • Jessica

    March 9, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    I have to agree with Susan. I love love love Ponds facial wipes. I have combo skin and it makes the dry parts feel all nice and clean just the same way that it does the oily parts. And – here’s the coolest – I can take my makeup off anywhere!!! I am not confined to a place with a sink!

  • AnninVA

    March 9, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    I swear by Laura Mercier’s One-Step Cleanser. It’s pricey but a bottle will last more than 2 months. You apply the cleanser to your dry face and then use a wet washcloth to wipe it off. Bonus: it’s good for those of us with sensitive skin.


    March 9, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Advice Smackdown

    I don’t know why I’m so excited to have Amalah answer my question about eye makeup remover. But I am….

  • Cha

    March 9, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I use baby wipes, and, baby, it has changed my life. I’ve used most of the facial wipes, baby shampoo, eyemakeup remover pads, oily removers, even the Purity Made Simple cleanser and baby wipes have been the best solution for me by far. I have unbelievably dry, sensitive skin and use super-strength waterproof mascara and one baby wipe gets off all of my eyemakeup and then another one for the rest of the face. I rinse quickly afterwards because I-I…I just have to, okay? I use sensitive skin ones and have found Playschool ones are too scratchy but Pampers and Luvs are quite soft. So so so much cheaper than buying actual facial wipes in the cosmetics/face care aisle. Proof in the pudding: my skin has been clear, very gently exfoliated and soft ever since. (Even better: I have dibs on my nephew’s baby wipe warmer when he’s potty trained. That’s some decadence right there.)

  • barnmouse

    March 9, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    I read this and just HAD to comment. I HATE that oily slick that gets left behind after using most eye makeup removers! It makes my vision all blury and nothing seems to get that icky feeling off. After I started using the Purity face cleaner, I thought I’d see what it could do with eye makeup and VOILA! ALL GONE! WOO! And I even used a white towel to dry my face afterward and NO eye makeup left! Amazing. I love that stuff now! Can not live without it! Thank you Amy! (more exclamation points!!!)