How to Really Clean Your Face Before Bed

Victoria Moorhouse
washing face

Photo: stevecoleimages /

“Always take off your makeup before bed” is one beauty commandment we’ve all heard before, and it’s the most obvious response to how to get a squeaky clean face. But our lecturing mothers, knowledgeable derms, and perfect-skinned celebs are likely on to something with this advice: sleeping in makeup may lead to clogged pores, which increases your chances of developing blemishes and breakouts. No THANK you.

But oddly enough, some top makeup artists (the famous Charlotte Tilbury) and famous beauties (Joan Smalls) are revealing that they’re all about sleeping with some form of makeup on. While most of these stars are referring to sexy smudged liner instead of pore-clogging foundation, it definitely struck us as strange. Our dermatologists still say to never sleep with makeup on, not even mascara—and here are our best tips for how to clean your face before bed.

Don’t Rely on Makeup Wipes
Makeup wipes can be a god-send when you’re in a hurry, but makeup wipes can leave behind makeup residue and dirt on our skin that is typically washed away with standard face washing. Go ahead and use them to take off your makeup, but follow-up with your favorite cleanser.

Try Micellar Water Instead
Tap water isn’t the only option for washing your face. Micellar water is a trending skin care product that is packed with benefits. It’s formulated with tiny micelles bubbles (hence the name) that grab onto dirt and remove it. It’s hydrating, safe for sensitive skin, and as long as you have access to a cotton pad or a washcloth, it’s actually easier to use than any other cleanser. It feels just like water on your skin, but look down and you’ll a whole lot more makeup on your tissue.

Or Pick Up an Oil-Based Cleanser
These products are little miracle workers for removing makeup. Trust us. We swear by it for removing eye makeup, and because they tend to be rather moisturizing, they don’t try out or sting your skin. It can also be used with a washcloth in the shower for removing face makeup like foundation, and even hard to budge stuff like waterproof mascara—all without leaving an oily cast to skin. Just apply, rub it in, then rinse. Lancome’s Énergie de Vie ($42, is pure genius.

Cold Cream Can’t Be Denied
Pond’s Cold Cream ($5, is a must-have for taking off long-lasting makeup without drying out your skin. It’s not exactly mess-free (you’ll definitely need a damp wash cloth), but at least you can go the bed without any leftover eyeshadow sitting on your lids. We love using this product to remove brow product that’s often left forgotten.

Take Off Your Makeup Before You Cleanse
You can’t always combine these steps. If you’re cleanser doesn’t specifically remove makeup, it might not be powerful enough to make that waterproof mascara budge. Try using an eye makeup remover first and then get to work with your foaming, gel, or cream face cleanser in the shower or at the sink.

Use a Q-Tip
Remove the liner close to your top eyelashes by dipping a Q-tip into the your makeup remover of choice and running it along the upper lash line.

Washcloths Work Wonders… If You Wash Them.
These little guys even boost your exfoliation process, but you’ll need to wash them after each use for an effective cleanse. Otherwise, it’s a prime spot for bacteria growth and the transfer of dirt and grime back onto your face.

Rinse Liberally.
Don’t stuck your face under the faucet, but skimping on the rinsing of your cleansing routine isn’t great for your skin. In fact, you won’t even get all your makeup off. When it doubt, give your face one more splash of water. You shouldn’t see any cleanser residue, bubbles, or smudges of makeup.

Don’t Forget Your Lipstick
To remove lipstick stains that seem to stick around forever and a day, try applying a very tiny amount of olive oil or cream cleanser to your lips, then rub with a washcloth or an exfoliation mitt. You should see that lip pigment disappear onto the cloth, and your white pillow cases will thank you.

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