12 Derm-Approved Oil-Free Makeup Removers for Your Gentlest Cleanse Yet: Well+Good

There’s something about an artful smoky eye, a bold lip, and a filter-finish foundation that makes us feel unstoppable! But when it comes to taking off high-impact glam, that’s another story. As someone who loves her long-wear matte lipstick and liquid eyeliner just as much as her (very thorough) skincare routine, I know the struggle well. Yes, it can be a hassle to sweep away every scrap of makeup before I can finally hit the hay, but the alternative—acne flare-ups, oily skin, and smudged sheets—is far less appealing. Enter one of my favorite skincare heroes: oil-free makeup remover.

Oil-free makeup remover is a gentle yet effective solution that easily dissolves makeup, dirt, and impurities without disturbing the balance of your skin. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anetta Reszko explains, it’s the optimal choice for those with sensitive, mature, or combination skin types. “It’s better to choose an oil-free makeup remover as opposed to an oil-based one, as oil can clog pores if it’s not perfectly removed with an additional cleanser,” she advises. “This helps prevent the occurrence of acne and other unwanted irritation.” While some oil-free makeup removers are designed to be rinse-free, she recommends following up with a mild cleanser to ensure that every last bit of makeup and grime is gone.

Oil-free makeup remover comes in many forms, from micellar waters and gels to foams and wipes, which means there’s a wealth of options for every type of routine. In addition to testing several formulas myself, I turned to two board-certified dermatologists to help me round up the very best options for clean, refreshed skin. Read on to see which oil-free makeup removers made the cut.

The best oil-free makeup removers, at a glance:

Best overall: Bioderma, Sensibio H2O Micellar Water Makeup Remover, $16
Runner-up: IS Clinical, Cleansing Complex, $48
Best splurge: Perricone MD, No Rinse Micellar Cleansing Treatment, $49
Best drugstore option: Garnier, SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, $12
Best for acne-prone skin: Avene, Cleanance Cleansing Gel, $23
Best for sensitive skin: SkinBetter Science, Cleansing Gel, $48
Best for oily skin: La Roche-Posay, Effaclar Micellar Cleansing Water for Oily Skin, $18
Best for mature skin: Paula’s Choice, Gentle Touch Makeup Remover, $19
Best for eyelash extensions: Velour Lashes, Lash Clean Oil-Free Makeup Remover, $23
Best wipes: Aveeno, Positively Radiant Oil-Free Makeup Removal Facial Wipes (2-Pack), $14
Best foam: ILIA, The Cleanse Soft Foaming Cleanser + Make Up Remover, $32
Best clean formula: Milk Makeup, Hydro Ungrip Makeup Remover + Cleansing Water, $32


Dermatologists agree that it’s important to look for oil-free makeup removers that are water-based and contain humectants, aka ingredients that attract moisture and pull it into the skin. You’ll find humectants like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, urea, and propylene glycol featured throughout our selections. If you have dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin, be cautious about products with active ingredients like AHAs (think glycolic and lactic acids), which exfoliate the surface of the skin. While these can be beneficial in small doses, it’s easy to overdo it—especially if you have several products with AHAs in your lineup.


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