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Put This on Your Face: Taking It All Off

Welcome back to Put This on Your Face, an ongoing series exploring the ins and outs of the makeup world! Over the past several months, we’ve made our way through the makeup aisles and tackled a single category at a time.

But what happens once all that stuff is on your face (layers of foundation and sunscreen and blush and even more blush because the blush from earlier faded but you didn’t want to wash your face and redo the whole thing) and it’s time to go to bed?

I’m aware that you likely already know your makeup needs to come off before bed, unless you’re wearing makeup you can sleep in which I have not tried, but if you have, please tell me how it is! Besides running the risk of staining your bedding with a bold lip that isn’t transfer-proof (can attest to a fuchsia lippie looking great on the lips and terrible on a pillowcase), wearing makeup overnight can clog your pores. The makeup, along with everything else you’ve picked up throughout the day, like pollution and dirt and glitter and kisses, prevents skin from breathing and getting its valuable rest.

I know it’s tempting to leave makeup on overnight, especially if you’re already doing it and haven’t encountered many (if at all) repercussions. But I just want you to consider, briefly, an alternative. I’m not saying you should do your full skincare routine when it’s 3 a.m. and you’ve just gotten home from the club (and already had your requisite post-club slice of pizza), but if you have just 15 seconds, or perhaps even longer, I’ve got some ideas for you to keep your skin happy!

If You Only Have 15 Seconds

If you really only have 15 seconds, I’m assuming you either fell asleep in the cab home and are having trouble staying awake long enough to pick out your PJs OR you have a cutie in your bed who you simply must resume kissing ASAP or they will turn into a pumpkin. In any case, while I am normally loath to say makeup wipes, I do think they are the best quick option to get the makeup off your face and to get you in bed.

I want to add a disclaimer here that I don’t think makeup wipes are necessarily good. I find them to be kind of harsh, and they’re not really the most thorough of cleansing tools, but I can’t deny that they’re convenient. If you know you have a bad habit of falling asleep with makeup on, try keeping a little tub of makeup wipes next to your bed. You can toss the wipe on the floor when you’re done, a gift for yourself in the morning. And as a bonus, you can stay in bed the whole time you’re taking your makeup off.

If You Have Two Minutes

Two minutes is kind of a long time, if you think about it. Maybe you’re trying to make frozen mozzarella sticks but need the oven to preheat, or you’re watching one of those extremely long TikToks that don’t let you fast-forward. Or maybe you’re in the bathroom watching someone brush their teeth — that’s exactly two minutes.

Two minutes are the perfect amount of time to find micellar water and a cotton pad (or your favorite reusable alternative). All you need to do is dampen the cotton pad with the micellar water and rub it all over your face. It might take a few swipes to remove some of the more stubborn makeup, like waterproof mascara, but it should eventually leave your face and take up residence in the cotton pad. Micellar water can technically be used on its own, but you can always use your favorite cleanser after, or just rinse with water when you’re done!

If You Have Five Minutes

If you have five minutes after a night out, you’ve made the kind of choices I can only dream of making. I envy you. You have time for a luxurious double cleanse! Choose a cleansing balm or oil, massage it over your face to remove makeup and that first layer of grime, then rinse and follow with the traditional cleanser of your choice. Cleansing balms and oils take a little longer than micellar water IMO (the latter is a swipe and go situation), but they’re well worth the extra effort and time. Also, cleansing balms are great for travel (solids, usually)!

And there we have it! Three different ways of taking your makeup off after a long day. Whichever option you choose, I just humbly ask that it not be leaving it on overnight. At least, not all the time. No one’s perfect.

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Ashni is a writer, comedian, and farmer's market enthusiast. When they're not writing, they can be found soaking up the sun, trying to make a container garden happen, or reading queer YA.

ashni has written 48 articles for us.


  1. I’m so into that Clinique cleansing balm. A tub lasts me like eight months and it feels soooo good rubbing it into my greasy sunscreened made-up face at the end of a long day and seeing all the grime emulsify and wash away.

  2. I used to be a Neutrogena wipes faithful but they really are harsh on the skin! And as someone who wears make up almost daily, I started to freak myself out by the amount of waste I was causing.

    Once when I was desperate without other options, I googled “Can coconut oil work as a make up remover” (because I always have two jars of it in the house, one in my kitchen and one in my bathroom) and while I’m sure it will work different for every person’s skin since it’s literally a glob of oil, for me it’s worked out perfectly and I haven’t turned back since.

    I do something similar to the double cleanse method you’re talking about in the guide here! Where coconut oil is my oil-based step to get off the grime, followed by a good rinse and a cleanser.

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