These are the best makeup removers for acne-prone skin

Every time I have to remove my waterproof mascara, I’m reminded of the old saying from Vaudeville, “What goes up, comes down.” As someone with sensitive, acne-prone skin, this saying especially applies to me – I want to cover up blemishes with makeup, but I don’t want to make them worse. So this week I researched medical studies to find out the best makeup removers for sensitive, acne-prone skin.
But first, let’s bust some skincare myths.
Can cosmetics cause acne?
Technically, most cosmetics do not cause acne, but certain ingredients can clog pores, which can help Propionibacterium acnes to grow and cause acne breakouts. To avoid this, you need to choose your cosmetics carefully.
As a rule of thumb, choose cosmetics labeled “non-comedogenic,” “oil-free,” or “mineral-based,” as these products are less likely to cause breakouts. Click here for more tips on how to choose acne-friendly cosmetics.
Can sleeping with makeup on cause acne?
The short answer is no. Combining a “big face” with a “beauty break” does not in itself cause acne. However, if your makeup contains pore-clogging ingredients, sleeping with makeup can cause acne. Another reason you may find a correlation between acne and sleeping with makeup is that the moist environment on your skin helps the acne-causing bacteria multiply quickly.
However, the main reason you should remove your makeup at night is that most skin care products work better on a clean, dry face. This is especially important if you are using a nighttime acne treatment product such as the Curology medication.
Now that we’ve got the facts straight, here are my honest thoughts on some of the best non-acne makeup removers and makeup remover wipes.
Is micellar water really the best makeup remover?
Over the years, I’ve tried several different methods of removing makeup, especially makeup remover wipes, makeup remover oils and cold creams, with mixed results. Makeup remover wipes, in particular, were a staple in my afternoon skincare routine for a long time. I tried several different brands (both drugstore and high-end) before realizing that none of them could completely remove my makeup. It turns out that many makeup wipes contain harsh ingredients (hello, alcohol) that can irritate sensitive skin.
Last year, I switched to micellar water and haven’t used makeup wipes since. Micellar water cleanses, removes makeup and moisturizes in one step by using tiny particles called micelles to draw dirt and oil out of the skin. Makeup is easily removed with a cotton ball dipped in micellar water, eliminating the need for “scrubbing” (which isn’t ideal for sensitive skin).
Nonetheless, I carry makeup wipes with me just in case. If you like makeup wipes, there’s generally no harm in using them as long as they don’t contain any potentially pore-clogging or irritating ingredients.
One of the Best Makeup Removers for Sensitive and Acne-Prone Skin
Curology’s Micellar Makeup Remover
($8, 3.4 oz.).
A gentle, skin-first makeup remover that supports your essential acne-fighting routine.
Powered by micelles, tiny particles remove dirt, oil, and even the most stubborn waterproof makeup.
Fragrance-free, vegan, non-clogging formula designed by dermatologists for all skin types.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O

($14.90, 16.7 fl. oz.)

  • A micellar water that removes makeup while soothing and cleansing sensitive skin.

  • The micelles in this product are made of fatty acid esters, which help to rebuild and reinforce your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

  • The fragrance-free and non-comedogenic formula won’t clog pores.

One of the best medicated micellar water choices
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
($8.99, 13.5 oz.).
Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic formula.
It contains glycerin, the perfect moisturizing ingredient for dry skin.
This (currently) acne-free blogger uses it nightly!
One of the best makeup remover wipes options
Koh Gen Do Hot Spring Cleansing Water Wipes
($23.00, pack of 10).
A makeup remover wipe that won’t make you allergic.
It contains a pleasant smelling blend of herbs.
Some of the ingredients may irritate your eyes, so don’t use it to remove eye makeup!
How to Treat Acne While You Sleep
Are you looking for the perfect nighttime skincare routine to clear up acne? Then look no further. At Curology, a board-certified dermatologist will help you on your unique skincare journey by customizing a cream to fit your skin’s needs.

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