Here’s How to Get Stubborn Waterproof Makeup Off

Easy does it.

By Hannah Zahner

I’ve shared before how to lock in your makeup against the heat and water, but what about when it’s time to take it all off? While the “I woke up like this” look certainly has its appeal, the reality of sleeping in your makeup is that you often wake up looking more hot mess than effortless, with a few less eyelashes to your name.

I actually don’t really love wearing waterproof makeup, but certain occasions like your sister’s wedding where you know you might cry your eyes out or stepping out into the 80% humidity that sometimes exists here in Austin, demand it.

When it comes down to removing your waterproof makeup, it’s tempting to slough it all off with a washcloth, but a rough approach actually does more harm than good. The end result is puffy eyes, premature skin aging and lash fallout…not pretty stuff. Read on for easy tips on waterproof makeup removal, plus our favorite products to try that can handle even the most stubborn eye makeup.

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Remove your eye makeup first.

Waterproof eye makeup is usually the most stubborn and while your facewash may be amazing, you’re often left with racoon eyes post wash. Soak a cotton pad with the makeup remover of your choice and gently press onto lashes. Hold there for 30 seconds and if needed, follow up by lightly massaging the area for 15 seconds. When massaging the product around your eyes, do so in a circular motion and be sure to wipe downward, not into your eye. Wipe off with a clean pad and/or water then cleanse as usual. How do you know you’re using the right makeup remover? Your eye makeup removers should rinse off easily and remove makeup without much scrubbing.

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Use natural cotton pads and Q-tips.

While your fingers or a washcloth may get the job done, soft cotton pads are far less abrasive. For the hard-to-reach areas, like the corners of your eyes or right under the lash line, try a q-tip.

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Don’t use cleansing cloths daily.

While it certainly is convenient, cleansing cloths can actually be pretty abrasive. Plus, they’re often full of ingredients, like alcohol and preservatives, that dry your skin out long term. If you do use them, try to avoid the delicate eye area.

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Don’t use waterproof mascara daily.

Sure it’s handy when you’re sobbing through an episode of This Is Us. But day-to-day it makes the makeup removal process more challenging and is stressful on the eyes. If you tend to experience transfer to your eyelid and undereye area, try a setting spray and a dust of powder in the area to lock in extra moisture.

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Product Faves

From oils to creams to cleansing waters, scroll on for the very best waterproof makeup removers out there, each proven to actually get your makeup off.

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Luxury Removers