Makeup removal can be an afterthought, a tedious, last-minute chore you force yourself to do before bed. But consider this: Removal products and how you use them have the power to make or break your skincare regimen.
According to dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett, failure to remove your cosmetics will leave a barrier on the skin that can cause breakouts. “Makeup can be quite occlusive, especially when you’re looking at things like liquid foundations,” she says. At her Toronto skincare facility, DLK on Avenue, Kellett has witnessed a recent uptick in the instances of adult acne, something she attributes in part to heavy-duty makeup formulations. She says that buildup of cosmetics in the eye area, meanwhile, can cause cysts. Not only that, Kellett explains that if the skin isn’t properly cleansed, it won’t be able to absorb the ingredients in the creams and serums that follow, an error that can be costly.
So, how do the pros take it off? Jennifer Brodeur is the Montrealer behind JB Skin Guru, a skincare line used at the Four Seasons Hotel’s spa in Montreal. Her regular client list includes both Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom are very familiar with heavy television makeup. To help her busy clients care for their skin while they’re on the road, Brodeur gives them each an SOS kit filled with customized skin saviours including a Clarisonic facial cleansing brush. “There’s a brush in there for those nights where it’s just so messy. I sometimes have clients who will do three, four brush passes and [the make-up] is still there,” she says. For those wearing mere mortal amounts of makeup, Brodeur recommends using white washcloths meant for newborns to wipe away cosmetics, as they’re gentler on your skin than regular washcloths.
Skincare brand Ren developed its Perfect Canvas Clean Jelly Oil Cleanser to remove waterproof makeup, pollution and SPF with a trio of naturally derived oils. But the product was also designed to protect the skin’s natural properties. “Interestingly, the challenge is doing it effectively without causing any damage to the delicate balance of oils and bacteria that exist on the surface of our skin,” Ren global ambassador and product expert David Delport says.
When it comes to removers that don’t work to protect the skin’s natural balance, he offers the example of baby oil, which is equally effective at removing makeup as it is at blocking your pores. “This is great for locking in moisture in a baby’s skin, but personally, I would not put that anywhere near my face.” Delport also calls out sodium laureth sulfate, an ingredient commonly used in cleansers that can cause dryness, particularly in sensitive skin. “Makeup removers need to be super effective and luxuriously soft and smooth to the touch, so that you don’t need a strong physical action to remove your makeup,” he says. In short, save the rubbing and scrubbing for your kitchen floors.
While it’s easy to “forget” to take off your makeup before bed, some, including Vancouver-based makeup artist Mimi Choi, relish the process. “It’s very heavy makeup so usually it feels very good to take it off,” says Choi, who spends upward of 10 hours creating elaborate illusion looks, which she documents and shares on social media. Her preferred removal products are Garnier’s Micellar Water and Shu Uemura’s cleansing oil. “For even faster removal, I use a Riversol makeup remover cloth with my cleanser of choice,” she says.
And while Choi’s looks are as detailed as they come, no one understands the world of long-lasting, show-stopping makeup quite like a drag queen. “Someone could throw water on my face and [my makeup] would literally stay there,” says Toronto’s Tynomi Banks, who has been appearing in drag for the past 14 years. Her makeup application takes close to 90 minutes and includes some heavy hitters such as a hydrating primer by Nyx, foundation and setting powder from professional brands Kryolan and Ben Nye, and Pros-Aide Adhesive, a medical-grade, water-based product, to create block eyebrows. For removal, she swears by Biotherm’s Biosource Total Renew Balm-to-Oil and is diligent about spending the 10 to 15 minutes it takes to remove her makeup each night.
“It sounds very rudimentary,” says Kellett, who likens good skincare habits to brushing your teeth. “Day to day, you don’t see a difference, but if you go three months without brushing your teeth, it’s an issue.” At the end of the day, just take it off.
Garnier Bio Micellar Water Cornflower, $13 at mass retailers (garnier.ca).
Ren Perfect Canvas Clean Jelly Oil Cleanser, $42 at Sephora.
OleHenriksen Truth Juice Daily Cleanser, $37 at Sephora and through olehenriksen.com.