3 of my girlfriends were doing this wrong. Are you?

Zoe Foster


During a catch up with some friends on the weekend, it transpired that three of the six dames present were using the wrong makeup remover for their mascara of choice. Obviously I left mid-meal and screamed home to write this, lest you foxes be making the same error. 

If you use regular mascara:

Use a dual-phase oil and water remover (like Lancôme Bi Facil) for quick and very efficient results, (but a no-no for lash extensions). These are especially good if you wear a lot of liner and shadow with your mascara. Or, just stick to a regular, water-based eye makeup remover, the kind we all grew up with. The Body Shop Camomile Remover and Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover (so great for sensitive skin) are both good.

When you use, be sure to dab onto a cotton pad (yes, tissues and dunny paper are too abrasive, before you ask), hold over the closed eye, then wipe down the lashes (not horizontally – very wrinkle-causing).

Or, cheat and use eye makeup pads, like the Almay ones (choose the oil-free ones as the oily ones can leave debris in the eye which is ANNOYING), which I have been using steadily for about seven years and simply press and wipe on my face after cleansing to remove all leftovers and really clean the eye exceptionally indeed. Then cleanse.

Or, if travelling/lazy/drunk, use a very decent makeup remover wipe, like MACs or La Biosthetique Belavance Make-up Remover Towelettes.

Waterproof mascara:

This is where oil becomes necessary. The best way to go about it is to use a cleansing oil, which is not only terrifically moisturising, gentle and excellent at removing all makeup and dirt without disrupting your skin’s barrier, but was originally developed as a gentle alternative for stage and film actresses who had many makeup changes a day, and their skin was getting ratty and red from all the makeup removing.

Cleansing oils emulsify once you add water and massage them onto (dry) skin, then it all glides off as you rinse, so there’s no need to double cleanse, although many women do from habit, and that’s fine.

Which remover is best for your mascara?

And yes, even oily skin can (should!) use them – the oil takes away not only makeup and grime, but also excess sebum. If you’re a heavy makeup, (especially long-last or waterproof), primer or sunscreen user, cleansing oils will greatly and seriously benefit your skin.

I love Shu umeura cleansing oil (the original), of which there are several varieties for different skin types, and Dermalogica’s pre-cleanse: both remove even very heavy eye makeup and waterproof mascara easily and neither irritate my eyes or make them a bit glazed afterwards, which can happen with some cleansing oils.

Tubular mascara: 

Tubular mascara is applied like regular mascara, but then, quietly and invisibly as you go about your day, creates little tubes around each lash. This means it won’t smudge or fall off, it just stays PUT, hugging each lash like they’re lovers.  Sweat, cry; be in the tropics, it won’t budge. It’s outstanding, especially if you know there’s a chance you might swim or go to an all night rave. But the REAL bonus is that no makeup remover or cleanser is required to remove tube mascara – just warm water to soften the tubes, and your thumb and forefinger to gently slide the ‘tubes’ down and off the lashes.

Also, your eyes will be completely clean, (if you were thorough with your tube-removing) there are no remnants as you step out of the shower, just clean lashes and bare eyes. I’ve been a user for five years and cannot go back to regular mascara now. No chance. I love Clinique’s Lash Power, Bobbi Brown’s Perfectly Defined and MAC Opulash (for volume and tubes!)

Lash extensions:

If you still like to use mascara even though you’ve had lash extensions applied, (outrageous!) then be sure you’re not using a waterproof (or tubular) mascara and DO NOT USE NOT OIL BASED REMOVERS. They will weaken the glue/bonds and your lashes will end up all wonky donkey. Use regular mascara and remove very gently with a water-based remover, like Simple Conditioning Eye Make-Up Remover.

Zoe is an author, columnist and porridge fan. Her books include the beauty bible Amazing Face, dating and relationship guide Textbook Romance, and three novels, Air KissesPlaying The Field and The Younger Man. Find more info on her here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.

Please understand that Zoë cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask.

What mascara do you use? How do you remove it?