Those store-bought makeup removers may be convenient, but they typically come with a host of chemicals and toxic ingredients that can actually harm the health of your skin over time and irritate your eyes.
The active ingredients in makeup remover liquids and wipes are generally the same as regular cleansers. Both rely on surfactants to dissolve makeup, along with emulsifiers and solubilizers that help lift oil, makeup and dead skin. But the difference is, most people don't rinse them off with water, and they generally aren't as thorough as cleansers, leaving behind a portion of the grime on your skin.
That residue can expose your skin to high concentrations of surfactants, emulsifiers, and solubilizers that can be drying and irritating, particularly in those who have sensitive or dry skin. Plus, many wipes contain alcohol which can cause stinging.
The other problem with those store-bought products is that the nature of the packaging means that preservatives have to be added to increase shelf-life, so you're likely exposing your skin to a number of formaldehyde-releasing chemicals - high exposure to formaldehyde is considered a carcinogen.
If you want to remove your makeup without the use of harsh chemicals, and likely save a little cash too, there are many ways you can do so naturally, including these options.
1. Oils: Coconut, almond, olive and jojoba
The use of just about any type of cleanser will inevitably strip your skin of its natural oils, which can cause a number of problems. Your skin may become quite dry and require more topical moisturizer, or it could start over-producing oils which will make it extra oily. Those products you see on the store shelves that tout being oil-free can actually be bad for your skin and even lead to premature aging, as the natural oils in the skin are what keep it looking supple and younger.
Using a natural oil, like coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil or jojoba oil, is a great way to cleanse the skin and remove makeup without over-drying it. They're tough too - oils can remove pretty much any kind of makeup, from extremely pigment lipsticks to waterproof mascaras. You might even combine two different oils, like jojoba and almond oil, or pair olive oil with a little rose water, which is ideal for sensitive or dry skin.
You can even swap out that store-bought face milk for actual milk to remove makeup naturally. Did you know that milk baths were popular with royals thousands of years ago who would soak in it to beautify their skin? The fat and proteins in milk (use whole milk only), help to hydrate the skin and improve its ability to retain moisture. Plus it's a lot cheaper than a face milk cream or most drugstore removers. Simply dab some whole milk onto a cotton ball and wipe it across your skin, you can use it on your eyes too, just wipe gently. It will leave your skin makeup free and refreshed.
While it may sound strange, if you wash your face with yogurt, your skin is sure to thank you for it. It's rich in lactic acid, fat, and protein to help detoxify and cleanse. Not only will it remove makeup, it moisturizes the skin to leave it nice and dewy-looking. Plain, unflavored yogurt is really all you need. Just take a cotton pad and dip it into the yogurt, rub it all over your face in a circular motion and then rinse well with cool water.
If you're prone to breakouts, add a little lemon juice. Adding a drop or two of one of your favorite essential oils can make it sweet smelling too.
Honey makes an excellent facial cleanser and makeup remover. Its antibacterial properties not only help acne, it contains enzymes that help slough away dead skin cells. It's also very moisturizing, helping to make skin feel soft and smooth.
To use it, add a small amount of raw honey (don't use the processed junk, like the type that comes in a cute bear shape) onto a wet washcloth and then spread it over your face, massaging in a circular motion. For best results, allow it to sit for 5 or 10 minutes before rinsing. Remove any residue with warm water. If you have extremely oily skin, add a little lemon juice. If you have dry skin, mix in a little whole milk or cream.
You can use either the juice of a cucumber, or you can blend the cucumber into a paste, to remove makeup and brighten dull skin. If you have tough makeup to remove, add a little olive or jojoba oil to the mix. Refreshing and cooling, it's particularly good for oily skin, and it can even help heal acne, blemishes, and scars as well as to relieve the pain of a sunburn.
One of our favorite DIY makeup remover recipes features cucumber juice, along with coconut oil, castor oil, and lavender essential oil, which are all great for the skin. Simply mix two tablespoons of coconut oil with one tablespoon of castor oil in a small pan. Gently combine them and heat for 2 minutes. Allow it to cool and then add the juice of one cucumber to the mixture and blend well.
Finally, add a couple of drops of lavender oil, which adds a nice scent and can even help fade dark age spots. Now all you need is a cotton pad or cotton ball. Dab a bit of the mixture onto it and then apply it to your face and gently massage it in; rinse with cool water. To remove eye makeup, pat the cotton ball onto your eyes and allow the mixture it soak in for a few seconds before rinsing.
6. Witch hazel
Witch hazel is a great makeup remover, and a whole lot more. It helps to improve the skin by locking in moisture and clearing up acne. Pair it with other beneficial oils and you've got the ultimate natural makeup remover.
All you need is 2 tablespoons witch hazel, 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil like jojoba, olive or almond oil and 2 tablespoons of filtered water. Combine all of the ingredients in a bottle and shake before each use. Use a cotton ball soaked with the solution to remove your makeup.
While you'll see lots of DIY cleansers and makeup removers that call for avocado oil, if you don't have the oil but have an avocado, you can use it directly to remove your makeup. All you have to do is get a cotton swab and coat it in some of the oil from the avocado.
8. A grain-based exfoliating cleanser
You can use grains to gently exfoliate and cleanse your skin. All you have to do is grind up some oats into a fine powder and mix it with a liquid to form a paste. For dry skin, add yogurt, milk or cream. For oily, add lemon juice, and for normal skin, add raw honey or peppermint tea.
Gently massage your face with the paste, avoiding the eyes, and then rinse with cool water. If you don't have oats, you can also use almonds ground into a powder, baking soda, rice bran, cornmeal or ground sunflower seeds. Just don't make more than you need each time, as it won't keep. Make it as you need it - you can speed things up a bit by keeping of jar of your preferred dry grains, seeds or nuts in your bathroom, along with a spoon and a small bowl for preparing it.
9. Aloe vera and honey makeup remover
Aloe vera gel and honey are both especially nourishing to the skin and are great for whisking away impurities and makeup. Simply combine equal parts of aloe vera gel and raw honey in a small container, and then add 2 tablespoons of your favorite oil (like olive or almond oil) for every cup of the aloe/honey mixture. Use an immersion blender to combine all ingredients into a paste. Use a small scoop to remove makeup by massaging it into your skin for a minute or two, and then rinse with cool water.
10. Homemade Makeup Remover Wipes
If you just can't live without the convenience of those makeup remover wipes, there is good news - you don't have to! You can make your own right at home using natural ingredients, and it's easy and you won't have to worry about those chemical preservatives and other hormone disrupting unnatural ingredients.
The writer is a freelancer
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