Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Many of us use only one facial cleanser, but is it doing a good job? Put your favorite cleanser to the test! After using it, take a cotton pad with a liquid makeup remover on it (like Lancome’s Bi-Facil), and see if your cleanser left any makeup behind. Now, look at the cotton pad: what do you see?

If you found that after half of your face, you really needed a second cotton pad, that is a very bad sign. Some of you will find that you do see residual dirt/makeup (especially foundation), and it may shock you to realize how much product you have left on your face every night. Did you find nothing on that cotton pad? Congratulations, you are getting the most mileage out of your cleanser (and be sure to share it in the comments, so other readers can benefit from your experience!).

Reason to Use More than One Cleanser

  • You wear a lot of eye makeup–whether that’s intense shadow, heavy mascara, or waterproof liner. Lots of eye products can be difficult to remove with a typical cleanser, simply because there’s a lot of it, and many products are waterproof and break down best with oil-based cleansers. Additionally, pigmented shadows can stain lids without targeted removal.
  • You wear foundation–if you’re good about application, this means that you get close to your hairline, and you get a little on your jawline/underneath your jaw (sort of on your neck). This area is easy to miss when you’re cleansing and rinsing your face (honestly, how many of you cleanse your neck every night?). I know that when I’m rinsing my face, I no doubt miss spots near my hairline!
  • You wear lipstick/lipgloss–it may not stay on when you’re eating and drinking, but using a regular facial cleanser doesn’t always break it down.
  • You’re acne-prone–you want to be sure you remove any dirt and residue from your face to reduce acne, especially when you know your cleanser does leave something behind.

What to do when your cleanser fails:

Makeup Remover Wipes–these are available through an assortment of brands from drugstore to high-end. A cult favorite are MAC wipes (there is a special fondness for their scent, too), but you can go the drugstore route and come out okay.

  • Pros: Remove a lot of makeup at once
  • Cons: Can tug more at eyelids and skin

Makeup Remover (Liquid, Gel, Mousse, etc.)–think Lancome Bi-Facil, MAC Cleanse-Off Oil, etc. These are products that are specifically geared to take off your makeup, and they are tested to truly break down makeup products. Some products you can apply and lather, others are meant to be used in conjunction with cotton pads, swabs, etc..

  • Pros: Removes makeup very well, leaves minimal residue behind
  • Cons: May leave a residue behind, feel oily, sting eyes

Change Your Routine!–we all love that one product that can do it all, but maybe it’s just not cutting it. Maybe that stubborn acne isn’t worth it and could be cleared up with more stringent cleansing habits! Let me share with you what I have found really works well…

  • Makeup Removing Wipe: when I wear something really, really heavy for eye makeup or still have the majority of my lipstick/gloss on, I use a wipe to take it off. I go gently, don’t tug much, and never try to remove it all using just a wipe.
  • Facial Cleanser: After using the wipe to get off the initial bits and bobs of makeup, I’ll use my normal facial cleanser, which does a pretty good job of breaking down makeup, but it just isn’t perfect.
  • Makeup Remover: I take one cotton pad and tap some liquid makeup remover (I use Lancome’s Bi-Facil right now) then go along my face, paying attention to the hairline, jawline, skin underneath eyes, and around my nose (any crevice that might be susceptible to makeup buildup or being missed during cleansing).

How does your cleanser hold up? What cleanser are you using?

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

85 thoughts on “What does your cleanser leave behind?

  1. Stephanie D

    I agree one cleanser just isn’t enough. I use MAC’s eye makeup remover or Sephora’s Soothing eye makeup remover on a baby wipe to take off most of my makeup (eyes especially). Then I use MAC Cleanse Off Oil, then Bliss exfoliating cleanser (I forget what it’s called but it smells like gumballs and is blue but packaged in a white bottle) or MAC Green Gel Cleanser.

  2. Stephanie

    I really need to find the right eye makeup remover, because when i wear eyemakeup I usually have heavy eyeliner and shadow. I have tried all the MAC eyeremovers, and Mary Kay. Every time I use remover my eyes burn and the skin turns red and I can’t open my eyes. I tried applying the remover to my hand to see if i had the same reaction and it did, it burned so much, it turned bright red, and it itched. I have also tried using just cleanser to remove the eyemakeup but then i’m rubbing my eyes like cray and it doesn’t all come off.
    Any suggestions on how to get a GENTLE cleanser or another way to remove eye makeup.

    THank You
    Stephanie

    • Kharina

      Hi Stephanie,
      I’d be glad to reply as I was just like you. I have two recommended products that I use because I ALSO have super sensitive skin and eyes.

      OK, first…try JOHNSON’S HEAD TO TOE BABY WASH first just to get as much of the make up, grease, and grime off your face as possible without irritating your eyes…promise (It’s in the baby section).

      Second… follow up with a second great yet gentle cleanser called CETAPHIL GENTLE SKIN CLEANSER (drugstores AND the pro of this product is that it’s non-comedogenic, non-alkaline, fragrance free) which is also for sensitive eyes and will clean more thouroughly.

      When you do the second step (CETAPHIL) I recommend you try it with a small gentle face brush in circular motions. Make sure the brush has gentle bristles that are comfortable to your face or you will look tomatoe red! Or..just skip the brush part altogether, your choice.

      Thirdly, before going to bed… finish cleaning eye area with very little LANCOME BI-FACIL gentle eye make up remover on cotton pad. This is a small blue bottle. Hope that helps. This is great way to remove make up which works for me!

      Don’t forget to moisturize before going to bed!!!

      I have yet to figure out the following…can anyone share suggestions for really good make up remover wipes that will not irritate super sensitive eyes?

    • Meredith

      Clinique Gentle Eye Makeup Remover. It’s a cream, not a liquid, so you have to take it off with kleenex, but you shouldn’t have a reaction. HTH!

    • Julie

      Hey Stephanie,

      Have you tried Almay non-oily eye-makeup remover? It’s really gentle, and you can buy it in a bottle or in pre-moistened wipe form. It’s the only kind I use.

    • Avatar of Carrie Carrie

      My eyes get puffy from some “mainstream” removers so I use plain organic jojoba oil and/or Earth Science Chamomile & Green Tea eye makeup remover to get everything off. You can get these at natural food stores like Whole Foods. Both are very gentle and effective and don’t irritate me at all.

    • Hey Stephanie! I know my readers helped you out on this one, because I haven’t had too many issues with removers. :(

      It’s so sad to hear that you have had such problems!

  3. I’m lazy and take my make up off with MAC wipes at the end of the day.. :s

  4. Leigh

    I use Ultra Bland (LUSH), which takes off 95% of my Bare Escentuals foundation (that stuff’s hard to get off!) as well as my eyeshadow and mascara… and then I use their Eau Roma water toner with a cotton pad, which removes whatever was left over :)

    • marnie

      I also use exactly the same combination! :) I was surprised how well Ultrabland works on my skin, considering me having very sensitive skin, and I had constant breakouts before that even though using Clinique’s 3-Step. Sometimes, I use anoter eyemakeup remover before the LUSH things if I am wearing a full eye that day.

    • Nice! That’s a great system, Leigh!

  5. Kirsty

    I don’t know if they sell it in the US but I use Neutragena’s Visible Clear Blackhead Eliminating Cleanser every night and I love it. I use a baby wipe to take off most of my make up, then I normally have to use two cotton pads (both sides) to get my face totally clean. I started using it about a year ago and found it really has helped clean up my skin. I was shocked the first time I used it (I just used baby wipes before) how much gunk actually came off my face! I just keep wiping til they come clean.

  6. Meredith

    CLARISONIC!! With Clinique Acne Solutions Foaming Face Wash. It takes off everything!

  7. Kerstin

    Clarisonic is expensive but if you can save up for it, it’s completely worth it!

    I use it with Murad and I get nothing on the cotton pad afterwards.

  8. AmyLou

    I always start with Almay’s liquid Eye Makeup Remover. It’s the absolute BEST. And I use it all over my face. It takes a cotton ball for each eye (if done heavily) and then one for the face. THEN I cleanse. I would never rely on a cleanser alone to take off makeup that I’ve applied especially to last all day/night.

  9. Jessica

    Hi Stephanie (and all!) –
    I have a few suggestions for you because my eyes are pretty sensitive, too!

    First, The Body Shop’s Chamomile Eye Makeup Remover is heaven. It’s dye and fragrance free and very gentle and effective. I’ve been using it for years, and the bottles are huge, so they last a long time!

    Second – Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Cleanser is also great. It removes face makeup AND eye makeup effectively and like the Body Shop eye makeup remover, it’s also dye and fragrance free.

    Finally – Boots No. 7 Quick Thinking Wipes are another good option, and they’re widely available at Target. Again, no dye and very little fragrance and extremely effective. Great a removing eye makeup, which can be SUCH a chore, ESP. if you use Urban Decay’s Primer Potion.

    And anyone suffering from sensitive skin might want to peruse the Paula’s Choice website. I know her products get mixed reviews on Makeup Alley, but I’ve had very good luck with most of the ones I’ve tried, and she sells sample sizes of almost all of her products, so you can try them out before commiting to paying full price!

    • Wow. I was just about to suggest the same thing. I am a licensed makeup artist and independent consultant with The Body Shop at Home. I have a collection of makeup to include MAC, but as far as removing makeup, I use The Body Shop at Home for all my clients as well as myself. It really is awesome. I also The Body Shop at Home facial wipes as well when I am being lazy. I will have to admit that I keep a stash of MAC facial wipes, just in case. I love the smell…

  10. I use a MAC wipe first if my eyeshadow is a heavy look. Then I use a Dior makeup remover on a cotton pad to clear away all my makeup. Lastly I use Bliss Foaming facewash and after all that im pretty clean LOL!!! When i use toner after all that, I never see any makeup transfer onto the pad with toner on.

  11. Chocolatesauce

    I only recently realized how my cleanser wasn’t getting my skin completely clean after I got on this acne system where I had to put toner on my face using a cottonball after the cleansing step. The first time I did it, the cottonball had so much makeup on it.

    Since then, I now use St. Ives scrub, then follow up with the cleanser. The stuff that is on the cottonball now is just dead skin cells. However, I read that the purpose of a toner IS to remove makeup/leftover residue on skin and that its not necessarily the cleanser’s job to do that. Don’t know how right or wrong that is, but it seems pretty valid.

    For eye make-up removal, the only thing that works for me are Baby Wipes.

  12. kate

    i had nothing left over!

    i clean off my eye & face makeup with a baby wipe first. then i switch between using burts bees orange essence facial cleanser and the peach and willowbark deep pore scrub. then after i cleanse i use an aveeno toner thats alcohol free and it takes off any cleanser and what not left behind. then i just apply some cetaphil moisturizer and spot treat a zit if i need to and im ready to hit the sheets!

  13. Karla

    I use Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil Fresh and then Clean & Clear Oxygenating Facial Scrub twice a week and the rest of the week with Clean & Clear Oxygenating Fizzing Cleanser, but I think I will replace my Clean & Clear products because I just find out that they test on animals :(

  14. zoe

    I use the Shu Uemura enriched balanced cleansing oil. It is amazing , On a day to day basis i dont need to use anything else. I used to be so lazy and hated removing my mu but this makes me love removing it lol. If i do a particularl heavy eye make up ill use lancome bifacil afterwards aswell :)

  15. gwen

    i think oil cleansers are awesome, they practically MELT OFF everything! you can conveniently use it in the shower before you get your face wet and then it emulsifies upon contact with water so there will not be any oil or makeup residues left. it is also a generalization that oily skin should avoid oil cleansers, which is untrue, i have combination skin (more oily during summer) and it still works just as fine and i did not suffer from any breakout :)

  16. Ay the moment I’ve been using CLINIQUE’s Take the day off make up remover and it’s pretty good. It does leave you feeling a little oily but thats not a problem for me as I use a face wash afterwards. Sometimes I use make up wipes too if my make up is particularly tough to remove. I love the No.7 quick thinking wipes, but otherwise I settle for the johnson and johnson gentle wipes (or something like that)

  17. Briodmun

    I’m perfectly fine with my cleansing routine. I always make sure I use makeup remover liquid/wipes before cleansing. I then cleanse my face with both Liz Earle’s Cleanse and Polish and Lush’s Ultrabland. I of course follow it up with my neutrogena toner, making sure to rinse after 5 mins of it being applied. I do this so that i can get the benefits of the cleanser without leaving the chemicals on my skin overnight (not good). I lightly moisturise. Next morning i do the same steps over, but replace the makeup remover with my daily neutrogena exfoliator.

    • Sounds like a good routine to me, Briodmun :) This post is definitely targeted to those who think that one cleanser can do it all (and I have faith that there must be a few that CAN, but generally speaking, most can’t!).

  18. Tonee

    I use an almond oil based cleanser to remove make up and wash with Neutrogena Deep Clean liquid cleaner and then use a rose water based toner. I haven’t found a cleansing wipe (other than MAC) that removes make up completely – whenever I apply toner afterwards, I noticed traces of make up (foundation especially) on the cotton pad and therefore no longer use any cleansing wipe other than MAC.

    I don’t follow this routine when I have an acne break out – I stick with using a mild make up remover (by Clinique or Clarins) and then wash with Cetaphil.

    • Nice! What’s the cleanser that you use, Tonee?

      I think I may do some organic/natural/essential oil type hauling soon.

      • Tonee

        I use Neal’s Yard Organic Almond Oil at the moment. Any almond oil would do actually, I have used another British brand which was much cheaper and it was just as effective.

  19. Erika V

    I sometimes start w/ a baby wipe to wipe my makeup off, then I use MAC’s cleanse off oil which I love (I use it on my foundation and lip brushes too) then I use Dove w/ a towel and gently scrub. Seems to work ok for me :-)

    As for my eye makeup remover I love Mary Kay…seems to work best w/ very little struggle.

  20. You forgot one con on the wipes, all the waste!

    I use Philosophy Purity made simple and I “think” it does a good job (I’ll double check with you method tonight” but it does break down my lipstick and/or lip gloss. I does a pretty good job, but if I am wearing a lot of dark eye makeup I have to follow up with Clinique’s TTDO balm, which is a bit greasy but that stuff will take ANYTHING off, and it rinses clean with water!

  21. T.

    It took me a while to find an eye makeup remover that I liked (and made sure it liked me back). I’ve used Neutrogina, Almay and Revlon before in the past and they’ve either made my eyes burn or made my skin really greasy or really dry. Now I’m using Avon’s Moisture Effective Eye Makeup Remover Lotion, it’s the best I’ve tried. It is a lotion, but it doesn’t leave my skin greasy at all. One time I was on a trip and forgot my regular face cleanser, and I used this in a pinch to take everything off my face- it still worked wonders! Nothing was left behind and my skin felt soft and not greasy.

    For my face, I use Burt’s Bees Tomato Complexion Soap. It’s my cleanser and my skin care routine. I used to have REALLY bad acne and this (along with a couple other products, but I won’t make this comment any longer!) has helped me out IMMENSELY. I like that this gets my skin clean and keeps it clear. It usually takes everything off but if I’m wearing some heavy duty stuff (ahem, Revlon Colorstay!), I do a quick wash with one of those cleansing cloths (and they’re just the generic Wal Mart brand- they work great!) to get anything left behind.

    • claudia m.

      I love the tomato complexion soap, too! The last time I used it, it cleared up my skin almost immediately. This time it’s helping, but I am having some other issues with my skin, first I was allergic to my shampoo,so I stopped. Also I can’t wear powder/foundation, but I keep trying every two days like it’s suddenly going to work, ha! Can’t blame a girl for trying!
      Oh, man I was on a citywide hunt for this soap, I gave all my friends and family detailed instructions on what to do if they saw it (if there’s less than 3, buy them all and I’ll reimburse you, or guard them till I get there, DON’T LET ANYONE NEAR BURT’S BEES!!!)

    • Thanks for sharing your cleansing quest story, T! It’s so helpful, especially for readers who’ve had the same experiences!

  22. I use the Oil Cleansing Method, and I find that is the best thing for getting my skin absolutely clean, without stripping it. Oil will dissolved oil, so it sweeps away make-up, excess greasies (including the gunk trapped in pores) and any grime attached to your skin.

    There are a lot of commercially-available rinse-off formulations (DHC and L’Occitane both make some, among others), but I like the old-school method – grapeseed oil, steam from the shower and a warm, wet washcloth.

  23. Melissa

    My eye doctor told me to use Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo (the yellow one) around the eye area. He said that typically even though we think we get all the make up off, we don’t and it will eventually leave little oil pockets around our eyes. He said the shampoo eliminates the oil and gets makeup off. Works very very well!!!

  24. Avatar of Carolina Carolina

    As much as I love my cleanser, when it comes to make up I’ve given it up a long time ago… I go directly to the make up remover and the toner.

  25. melissa

    I use Mac’s cleanse off oil, I love, love this. It gets everything off in one swoop and then I go over it with a cleaning face wipe and toner.

  26. Rabi

    I use Philosophy’s Real Purity and let it sit for a few seconds (I’ll brush my teeth in the meantime). It’s a really gentle cream cleanser and after a few seconds, I can rub it in and it’ll take off the mascara, makeup, everything. I also use Fresh’s Soy Cleanser the same way. Cleanser and makeup remover all in one…andI’ve tried a lot of the others. The Fresh is slightly more gentle on the eyes…no greasiness or stinging. It’s more expensive, though.

  27. Weezee

    I use Lancome BI-FACIL Eye makeup Remover, Lancome Mousse Clarte Self-Foaming Mousse Cleanser, Lancome Tonique Clarte Toner and of course moisturize. :) I recently just started with the above. I had a skin analysis done at the Lancome counter and to my surprise my skin was more oily than I thought. I thought I just had normal/combo skin but I was wrong. I never used a toner prior and when I got started on this skin care line, after I used the toner, I was amazed that I still had gunk on the cotton ball! I always thought I washed my face well…..guess not!

  28. Heather

    I use Proactiv’s 3 step system and mac wipes until they started stinging my skin. [The MA at my MAC counter said its the proactiv that made my skin so sensitive not the wipes] I’m on the search for really gentel eye makeup remover as well as face and can’t find one! any ideas?

    Moisturizer? I don’t use any. Should I Start?

    • ProActiv may make your face more sensitive, I do know that much.

      Read the comments left by other users – several had great tips for a sensitive remover!

  29. Krystal

    2 Steps:

    I start by cleansing my face with St. Ives Elements Olive Cleanser, the first cleanser I’ve ever used that effectively removes all my makeup (and heavy eye makeup). It does not dry my skin after, too – and it leaves my face feeling soft after I pat it dry with a towel. Next, I use L’oreal Hydra-Confort Soothing Toner. No trace of makeup after on the cotton pad and then I moisturize. This duo is awesome!

    If I come back late at night and am too lazy to wash my face, I use Boots No. 7 Quick Thinking 4 in 1 Wipes before going to bed. It takes away all my makeup and is also a toner & moisturizer as well.

  30. miniature

    Hey I have a quick question, I used to use the toner that you apply with cotton balls, and I’ve recently switched to a beautiful organic toner that is spray on? How can it possibly work if I’m not wiping the grime off? Anybody know?

    • Chocolatesauce

      I have one toner that is spray-on. However, even on the bottle it says I can either spray on or use with a cotton ball. I always use a cotton ball because I don’t like my face being all wet and I want to direct where the toner goes.

      As far as your question, I think that you are essentially answering it. If it’s a toner with oil in it, then it may be dissolving the grime, however I think that the company is relying on the fact that your cleanser that you use before it should have gotten your face squeaky clean when we all know that’s usually NOT the case.

    • It probably works for certain toner properties, but it’s not going to do the removal of yucky stuff – it’ll break it down, but without you wiping it away, it just sits on your face!

  31. HeavenLeiBlu

    … late to the party, but here’s what I do. I use the oil cleansing method. http://www.theoilcleansingmethod.com/

    It’s funny because I just started reading about this on message boards and seeing it on youtube in various people’s vlogs, but I’d been doing this for years, after being frustrated with commercial cleaners not doing the job on the rare occasion that I wear eye makeup, or a full face. I’ve been lucky enough that I rarely wear foundation, but my skin is very dry. Even if you have oily skin though, it works, as I’ve put my teenage daughter on to it just a few weeks ago, and her skin is the exact opposite of mine – oily and acne prone. Her skin is clearing up nicely.

    If i’m away from hme, and don’t have my oil available to me, Dove facial cleansing wipes and the store brand knockoffs of cetaphil work well enough to get me over. hope that helps!

    • Chocolatesauce

      I’m gonna try this! I read it and it makes a lot of sense.

    • Thanks for sharing this! Interesting. I’m actually been meaning to head to Whole Foods and buy some essential oils and whatnot to try..

      • HeavenLeiBlu

        Know what? You may already have what works for you in your cupboards! I only came across the website and the possible oil combinations within the last couple months or so. Me, being the kitchen beautician that I am, (LOL) I just happen to reach for extra virgin olive oil for any and everything, just about. LOL! When I kept having residue on my cottonballs after a special occasion, I gave it a go, and it worked like a charm. I sometimes add a little vitamin E oil, or castor oil, depending on my mood/needs, but the website has me wanting to run to Whole Foods, too play around with other combos. :-) Also, I love the site. I love your willingness to share. Most beauties like you are stingy =P

  32. Jen

    I was having this problem when I was using Prozac. I would wash my face and then use the toner and end up with lots more makeup coming off my face. I don’t use it anymore. I use a Buf-Puf now and the Cetaphil anti-bacterial face bar. Then I use Murad just to be sure its clean!

  33. Kassandra

    I also have very sensitive eyes and I’ve used a lot of different makeup removers. I’ve found that the Rimmel eye makeup remover works best. It doesn’t sting my eyes and gets everything off.

  34. Gabby

    Hey!!! I’m agree of what you’ve posted, but, there’s a miracle cleanser that do al the dirty work!!! it’s DIOR’s Gel de Lait Magique, it works on face lips and eyes and breaks out a 90% of makeup, even if it’s waterproof!! you guys should try it! It’s truly magical!!!! And after it i always like to end up with some toner, it finishes the job!!! i also like dior toners, they’re pretty good!!

  35. I’ve saved this because I found it notable. I would be very interested to hear more news on this. Thank you!