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Makeup Removers for Acne-Prone Skin

Be gentle to your face at the end of a long day. You may be wearing waterproof, long-lasting makeup, but that doesn’t mean you need to scrub with soap or use oils to remove it. If you have acne-prone skin, you’ll want to avoid irritating ingredients. Instead, use one of these mild cleansers to wash up before bed.

Soothing ingredients

Water-based makeup removers sometimes struggle to remove mascara and other silicone and wax-based products, but these are the best kind for acne-prone skin. Adding more oil to your face will only cause more breakouts. One exception might be to use pure jojoba oil, a plant-based oil that is chemically very similar to human sebum.

Look for cleansers that clean and calm your skin. Some ingredients that soothe acne-prone skin are chamomile, allantoin, and zinc gluconate.

  • Chamomile—anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, calming
  • Allantoin—also anti-inflammatory and keratinolytic (softens skin)
  • Zinc gluconate—fights acne bacteria

Avoid these additives if you can

Generally speaking, avoid cleansers with strong fragrances, oils, and volatile alcohols. It’s always best to read the ingredients list before buying a product if you’re prone to irritations and allergies.

On the other hand, some alcohols are not harsh for your skin. That may sound strange, but “fatty” ones like cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol don’t irritate skin like volatile alcohols do. Instead of drying skin by evaporating quickly (imagine rubbing alcohol), they moisturize.

The best makeup removers for acne-prone skin

Here are the top 5 products that will clean that makeup off your face.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths

Elle Magazine recommends Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths as an essential beauty product. For one, they’re very handy since they are pre-moistened towelettes that you can use without having to rinse afterward. Another reason is that Cetaphil’s products are almost always safe for people with skin problems like eczema and acne.


One of their ingredients is allantoin, which fights inflammation and softens dry skin. Another ingredient is zinc gluconate, which shows promise in fighting signs of aging. Don’t panic when you see cetyl alcohol as one of the primary ingredients. It’s a “fatty alcohol” that doesn’t dry out your face, but does help moisturize your skin and break down makeup.

Cetaphil says their cleansing cloths won’t clog pores, mess with your natural pH balance, or strip away oils. Use one to wipe away the day, then throw it away.

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes

Neutrogena is another trusted name in skin care in part because they have their products tested by dermatologists and ophthalmologists. At the time of writing, their Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes are the #1 best seller in eye makeup removers on Amazon.


Like the disposable cloths made by Cetaphil, you use one and then dispose of it afterward. There’s no need to rinse your skin. If you wear contacts, Neutrogena says the chemical formulation won’t bother your eyes.

Neutrogena says these Towelettes remove 99.3% of all makeup, even waterproof mascara. But don’t stop with your eyes; you can use these on your whole face.

Neutrogena Fragrance-Free Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelette

In case you have very sensitive skin, we included this fragrance-free version of the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes. They work just as well as the regular version described above–they just don’t have any scent to them.


Why does fragrance cause a problem? Some perfumes just irritate skin even if they smell good. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons why people have an allergic reaction (like contact dermatitis) to a skin care product.

One last note about smells: fragrance-free is different from unscented. Unscented may mean that one of the ingredients is making the product not have an odor. Buy fragrance-free if perfumes and scents cause a bad reaction.


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