You spent hours re-creating one of this year's most impressive Halloween makeup tutorials, you went to the party and let everyone marvel at how awesome you looked—and got home and realized you have to take all that makeup off. Wondering how to remove all that gunk without irritating your skin or ending up as one big clogged pore? We reached out to Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, to get the scoop on what's really in that costume makeup and to learn the right steps to take it off.
First, you'll want to take a good, hard look at the ingredients in the makeup you're using. "Unlike cosmetics designed for daily use, costume makeup isn't designed necessarily with skin care in mind. The goal is to give heavy coverage and bold colors," says Zeichner. "Makeup may contain heavy oils that can cause breakouts, preservatives and fragrances that can causes allergies or irritation, or even heavy metals that can be harmful to the skin." If you are going to use it, Zeichner recommends leaving it on for as short a period as possible. "Avoid it altogether if you have sensitive skin or are acne prone, as it can make both of these conditions worse," he says. And if that freaks you out, you may want to seek out stage makeup rather than costume makeup. Dermatologist Joel Schlessinger told the Huffington Post that the majority of theater makeup is made with FDA-approved ingredients. "Most theater makeup has the same high pigment payoff, but it's designed to sit on the skin for long periods of time and tends to be gentler on skin," he says.
Rule #1 of skincare: ALWAYS remove your makeup before bed. That said, there's nothing worse than scrubbing away at layers of long-wear makeup after a night out — especially when the look involves costume-grade face paint, eye lash glue, and a stay-all-day matte lip. When makeup wipes aren't enough, there are removers designed for any kind of makeup, like these:
Rubbing your lips raw is an often inevitable, highly unpleasant part of removing super matte lipstick — so much so, that it's a surprise a product like Urban Decay's Meltdown Makeup Remover Lip Oil Stick wasn't invented sooner. The clear, gel-like formula glides on smoothly and wipes away clean, taking any sign of pigment away with it. Plus, it leaves lips feeling hydrated (not oily!) post-use.
Removing mascara often means rubbing your eyes raw, watching lashes fall out, and then having to do the whole thing over again… and sometimes again. Too Faced's Mascara Melt Off is a cleansing oil formulated and packaged specifically for removing even the most stubborn waterproof mascara. Simply apply as you would regular mascara, wait a moment while you remove other face makeup, and wipe off with a damp cloth. Voila! No rubbing or falling lashes here.
Aside from being insanely fluffy, microfiber makeup removers like Face Halo are blowing up for their ability to magically remove heavy makeup without a drop of cleanser. Simply dampen the cloth with water, wipe over your face, and prepare to be amazed by all the pigment that slides off. (Seriously — we could hardly believe the lofty claims until we tried it ourselves.) Similar to bath towels, these cloths get dirty quickly, so make sure you throw them in the wash occasionally. Sidenote: these are a godsend for travel, since there's no risk of suitcase spills or security confiscations.
"Double cleansing is a big trend right now in skin care," says NYC-based Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai, Dr. Joshua Zeichner. "The first cleansing step does the job of loosening dirt from the skin," he explains, and "it certainly can help if you've used heavy makeup." We love the new Dermalogica PreCleanse Balm, which loosens heavy makeup when massaged into dry skin and transforms into a milky pre-cleanser when water is added. (Massage with the soft silicone mitt to lift off additional dirt.) The result: the perfect canvas for regular cleanser to go to work.
Similar to pre-cleansers, straight-up face oils can loosen heavy makeup, too. NYC-based makeup artist Min Min, who has worked with models including Nina Agdal, favors Iconolab's Renewal Face Oil; "the oil helps to breakdown stubborn, heavy or waterproof makeup without irritating the skin", she explains. As an added bonus, "it's soothing and moisturizing and won't clog the pores." Gently massage a few drops into skin, remove with a cotton pad and proceed with your regular cleanser.
If you find yourself removing superheavy layers of makeup on the reg, you might want to invest in a sonic cleansing brush, which can "finish the job to remove any impurities left in the skin after the first [cleansing] step," says Zeichner. The Clarisonic Mia FIT — which has been proven to cleanse six times more effectively than hands alone — has a "power cleanse" setting, which might as well be called Halloween Makeup Mode, given its ability to blast off stubborn residue in a few quick passes.