Makeup Removers vs. Cleansers: What’s Really the Difference?
There’s no denying that innovation in skin-care products has significantly progressed over the last few 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 get rid of traces of waterproof mascara. Today, removing makeup and cleansing your skin can be done in a pinch — sometimes, even one step — and we’re beyond thankful for that.
But when it comes to differentiating between the various methods of face washing, there are two overarching categories that most products fall into: makeup removers and cleansers. While the terms are often used interchangeably, each formula has its own benefits.
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 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 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 unique skin-care concerns can help dictate the type of cleanser you use, as some are better-suited to particular skin types than others.
Follow the Double-Cleansing Method
To get the best of both your makeup remover and your cleanser, we are firm believers in the double-cleanse method. This Korean beauty technique ensures all traces of dirt and makeup are effectively removed from the skin’s surface. To follow the technique, start by wiping away your makeup with either a liquid makeup remover or a makeup-removing towelette. Then, follow-up with your favorite cleanser — be it foam, cream or gel — to ensure all traces of impurities are whisked away.
Ahead, you’ll find a few of our favorite makeup removers and cleansers that — when used in conjunction with each other — will leave your skin squeaky clean but not stripped.
Our Favorite Makeup Removers
To 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 dissolves makeup in a pinch and leaves skin feeling refreshed. For stubborn, waterproof eye and lip makeup, follow up with the brand’s beloved Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover.
If you prefer cleansing your skin and removing your makeup at the same time, a 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.
Suitable for all skin types, the L’Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water gently dissolves traces of eye makeup, long-wearing foundations, and waterproof mascaras. The result? A luxuriously soft, fresh sensation with no greasy residue.
Formulated with naturally-derived ingredients like ultra-hydrating Aloe leaf juice, these facial wipes by Nuria allow you to quickly wipe away makeup, dirt, and other impurities to leave your skin feeling refreshed. They’re the perfect travel beauty product to throw in your bag and go.
Our Favorite Cleansers
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.
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.
Sloughing away dead skin cells from the surface of the skin helps reveal a softer and brighter-looking complexion. By using an exfoliating cleanser like La Roche-Posay’s Ultra-Fine Scrub, you can smooth and purify at the same time. It’s the ultimate multitasker.
This refreshing gel cleanser by Tula works to deeply clean and condition the skin without drying it out. It’s formulated with skin-loving ingredients like probiotics, lactic acid, blueberries and turmeric root to nourish and lock in moisture for instant radiance.