Splurge vs. Save: Eye Makeup Remover


Two months ago, I went into the eye doctor for a routine check-up.  During my visit, my doctor read me the riot act about not removing every.single.particle of eye makeup before going to bed.  “Your eyeball is sticky, and mascara is sticky,” she said.  “Once it gets on there, it’s very hard to get it off.  And you run the rist of irritation or infection.”  Consider me converted.

Splurge. My first stop was Sephora to pick up a sample of NARS Gentle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover (Sephora, $25), the brand my eye doctor recommended.  The formula was gentle and removed the eye makeup with very little rubbing–critical on delicate skin.  The product also contains aloe and cucumber, which I found very soothing.  And to my surprise, it removed even waterproof mascara.

Save. My bottle of NARS ran out after a little more than six weeks.  I was surprised at how quickly it ran out, but given that I was using it every day, not too surprised.  

When the bottle went dry, I decided to try something a bit less expensive.  I received a sample of Klorane Soothing Eye Makeup Remover (Birchbox, $9) in my Birchbox a few months ago, so I reached into my beauty box to give it a try.  

The product gently removed my waterproof mascara and eyeliner.  However, it took an extra swipe to make sure that I got it all off.  The formula didn’t irritate my skin or my eyes.  

Verdict.  You want to make sure that choose a gentle eye remover made from non-toxic ingredients.  Both of these products have soothing natural ingredients that remove eye makeup well without irritation.  But, in this case, I would recommend saving a bit of money. Why?

Because you’re going to use a lot of the product, and it could be really expensive to pay $25 per bottle if you need to replenish your supply every six to eight weeks.


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  1. BN says:

    Belle, thank you so much for this post! I have been having problems with my standby remover (Clinique, which, for everything else, has been great). I end up with a smudge of black on my lower lids, eve after several swipes of the cotton ball. I will definitely try the Klorane! Thanks!

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  2. Sophie says:

    I agree that removing makeup, especially eye makeup, is really important! However, I've recently become a convert to the all-natural methods. My eyes had very dark circles and redness around them. I started using olive oil to remove my eye makeup (same way as using regular remover, on a cotton pad — I've known other people to use oil such as jojoba oil. Both can be bought cheaply from Trader Joe's). Anyway, so I just use the oil on the cotton pad to remove it (comes off in a cinch!) and then continue cleansing/toning as usual. I have to say, the darkness and redness have almost completely gone, the fine lines around my eyes have been reduced (since oils are moisturizing), my lashes have grown longer and thicker, AND as someone who has acne prone skin it has NEVER made me break out! I think this method is way better then spending the bucks on any sort of eye makeup remover.

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  3. Emily says:


    I've used Neutrogena's eye-makeup remover for a couple of years now. Nothing else I've tried has been so effective against resistant liners and mascaras. The off-brand, available at Target, is also great and the wipes are convenient for travel. A few dabs is enough to take off all of my makeup and it normally lasts me about 8 weeks (at about $8/bottle).

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  4. Ellen says:

    I use Bliss's eye make up remover and it is amazing. You hardly need to use any and it takes everything off! Between that and there face wash all make up gets off with just one pump of each. Because of that they last me almost 6 months each!

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  5. m says:

    I use oil for removing ALL of my make-up, very thoroughly, without clogging pores. (Perhaps surprisingly, rubbing oil on your face does not clog your face or cause it to break out–something about oil molecules and pore sizes or something. I follow with a rinse and Cetaphil cleanser to remove all traces and but you can probably get away with just rinsing the oil if too mush cleansing is irritating or drying.) Shu Uemura makes the gold standard and a bottle lasts FOREVER but DHC makes a very popular, lower cost version. I've used and recommend both and it reduces the number and expense of products in my medicine cabinet.

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  6. m says:

    Just saw Sophie's post above. I haven't tried straight up olive oil but it's usually one of the primary ingredients in the oils I use. I don't bother with pads – just use my fingers.

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  7. LGF says:

    I use a soothing eye makeup remover from Renee Rouleau, which I've found to work really well. The thing I like best though are the instructions – she recommends that you apply to cotton square and then hold gently over eyelids for 20 seconds. This allows the makeup to break up before you start swiping that super delicate eye area. Doing this, I barely have to wipe over the eyes at all… less wrinkes!!

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  8. Anika says:

    I just picked up a bottle of this asian brand- Koh Gen Do's spa cleansing water at Sephora and am in love with it! It looks and feels like water but works effectively to remove my eye makeup.

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  9. M-C says:

    Consider also that there are no standards at all for bacteria in makeup, including eye makeup. It's cosmetics, therefore you aren't supposed to eat it, goes the official reasoning. Apparently, dozens of women go blind every year from infections caught from eye makeup. Blind, that's right, as in completely unable to see, permanently. So be sure to be awake enough to be able to wield that mascara brush without sticking yourself in the eyeball with it (a common occurrence apparently). And remove everything carefully every day.

    April 2, 2012/Reply
  10. Alex says:

    I'm in Sophie's club. I use oil to clean my face, eyes included. For the first time in my life, I have no clogged pores in my Tzone. The oil I use now is macadamia oil because its the closest to the oil in skin, but any oil will do. I'll never buy a cleanser again.

    April 3, 2012/Reply
  11. JS says:

    I've always hated eye-makeup remover because I have such sensitive skin. I was just introduced to Sens'Eyes by Makeup Forever at Sephora. It's pricey ($23) but totally worth it! My eye-makeup literally melted off in seconds!

    April 3, 2012/Reply
  12. Becca says:

    I've used baby oil to take off my eye makeup for as long as I've work eye makeup. Fingers crossed, I've never had any type of eye infection and I find it to be very moisturizing (and cheap!). I splurge when necessary, but this a great save!

    April 6, 2012/Reply
  13. Theresa says:

    I absolutely SWEAR by Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover! I have pretty normal skin, not sensitive, combination but not in the extreme, and it serves me very well. It takes off waterproof mascara with no effort and it goes on smooth without leaving my eyes covered in an oily mess.

    April 9, 2012/Reply