The Difference Between Makeup Removers and Cleansers
There’s no denying that innovation in skin care products has significantly progressed over the years. For instance, cleansing your skin is no longer a task that requires close proximity to a sink thanks in large part to products like micellar water and cleansing wipes. Similarly, long gone are the days of endless tugging on your skin and lashes to rid traces of waterproof mascara. Today, removing makeup and cleansing your skin can be done in a pinch (sometimes in just one step), and we’re beyond thankful for that. But beyond serving as a reminder to wash your face and remove your makeup every morning and night, the goal of this article is to explain the difference between makeup removers and cleansers. The terms are often used interchangeably, but in fact point to different formulations and benefits altogether.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAKEUP REMOVERS AND CLEANSERS
Makeup removers are not to be confused—or replaced—with cleansers. True to their name, makeup removers are beneficial in that they can remove foundation, blush, concealer, eye shadow, and other cosmetics from the surface of your skin. Makeup removers can be found in various different textures and formulations, but the best ones are those which can remove your makeup without stripping your skin of its natural oils.
Cleansers, on the other hand, serve the main purpose of removing dirt, sweat, sebum, and other pore-clogging impurities from the surface of your skin before they have a chance to mix with bacteria and wreak havoc. Cleansers are available in all different shapes, sizes, and textures, including foam, gel, oil, cream, balm, and exfoliators. Your skin type and concerns should help dictate the type of cleanser you use, as some as better-suited to particular skin types than others.
FOLLOW THE DOUBLE-CLEANSING METHOD
Moral of the story? Makeup removers remove makeup, and cleansers remove everything else, including some makeup and leftover makeup residue in some instances. To get the best of both products, we recommend following a double-cleansing method. This K-Beauty technique has gained traction Stateside, and can help ensure all traces of dirt and makeup are effectively removed your skin’s surface. If you’re a fan of wearing heavy makeup daily, this method can be especially beneficial. To follow the technique, start by wiping away your makeup with either a liquid makeup remover or a makeup-removing towelette. Once your makeup is wiped off your skin, follow-up with your favorite cleanser—be it a foam or a gel—to ensure all traces of impurities are whisked away. Here are a few of our favorite makeup removers and cleansers—from the L’Oréal portfolio of brands—to help you get started.
OUR FAVORITE MAKEUP REMOVERS
LANCOME BI-FACIL FACE
To effectively remove long-wear foundation at the end of the day, we recommend Lancôme’s Bi-Facil Face Makeup Remover. With the help of two powerhouse cleansing methods (oil and micellar water), this liquid makeup remover helps dissolve makeup in a pinch, leaving the skin feeling cleansed and refreshed.
Pro tip: For stubborn, waterproof eye and lip makeup, follow up with the brand’s beloved Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover.
Lancôme Bi-Facil Face Makeup Remover, $40 MSRP
L’OREAL PARIS CLEAN ARTISTE WATERPROOF AND LONG WEARING EYE MAKEUP REMOVER
Suitable for sensitive skin types, the Clean Artiste Waterproof and Long Wearing Eye Makeup Remover gently dissolves traces of eye makeup, long-wearing foundations, and waterproof mascaras. The result? A luxuriously soft, fresh sensation with no greasy residue.
GARNIER SKINACTIVE MICELLAR CLEANSING WATER ALL-IN-1 WATERPROOF
If you prefer cleansing your skin and removing your makeup at the same time, this micellar water might just be your ideal match. Garnier’s all-in-one waterproof cleanser removes makeup—even waterproof mascara—as well as cleanses and soothes the skin. No need for rinsing or harsh rubbing. Just a few gentle strokes with a cotton pad will do the trick.
OUR FAVORITE CLEANSERS
SKINCEUTICALS FOAMING CLEANSER
Foaming cleansers start out as a liquid, then transform into a bubbly lather to help remove dirt and impurities. Our recommendation? SkinCeuticals Foaming Cleanser, a lightweight pore cleanser for all skin types.
SkinCeuticals Foaming Cleanser, $34 MSRP
KIEHL’S BLUE HERBAL ACNE CLEANSER TREATMENT
Struggling with acne? Opt for a cleanser formulated with salicylic acid, like Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment. This high-foaming cleanser helps clear acne blemishes, blackheads, and whiteheads and helps prevent new ones from forming.
LA ROCHE-POSAY ULTRA-FINE SCRUB
Perhaps you’re in dire need of sloughing away dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to reveal a softer and brighter-looking complexion. If so, consider adding an exfoliating cleanser to your arsenal. With La Roche-Posay’s Ultra-Fine Scrub, you can exfoliate, smooth, and purify your skin–sensitive skin types included.
La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Scrub, $17.99