How to remove Halloween makeup without wrecking your skin

Halloween seems to spookily creep up on us so quickly each year. While some of us would rather keep things simple, the other half would prefer to go there by channeling our inner makeup-artist skills. A full face of fancy fox or leopard-print makeup may steal the show, but the thought of trying to take it all off once the party is over is horrible. However, it’s crucial if you want to keep your skin in tiptop shape. “My schedule is jam-packed with acne patients for the first two weeks of November, and 9 times out of 10, Halloween makeup is the culprit,” says Miami-based board-certified dermatologist Leslie Baumann.

If you don’t want to be one of those patients running to your dermatologist in search of a quick fix, follow our guide to help keep your face from looking like a wicked witch prank that went way too far into the next morning.

Tip No. 1: Don’t go to sleep in Halloween makeup

Seems like a no-brainer, but after devouring too much candy, dancing the night away, and maybe even having one too many cocktails, removing all that makeup you worked so hard to put on perfectly may be the furthest thing from your mind. “If there’s one night of the year to not go to bed with makeup on, Halloween would be it,” says Baumann. “Your usual cleanser might not be up to the task, so start with argan, jojoba, or almond oil to dissolve the makeup (but avoid safflower and olive oils, because they can clog pores). After the oil, use a cleanser that contains a surfactant (such as La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser) to wash away any makeup or oil left behind.”

Tip No. 2: Start with the heavy lifting

Perhaps this year, you have decided to go all out and cover yourself with jewels, rhinestones, and gorgeous glitter, to up the ante on your costume. While these kinds of adornments are often easily applied, they do not always come off painlessly. One thing to avoid? Just as you have always been told not to pick at pimples, the same rule applies here. As you try to pick at and pull off stubborn gems that have been glued on, you can cause irritation — or even worse, damage your skin. Instead, take a cotton ball or Q-tip, drench it in cleansing oil like Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil, and massage around the edges of the accessory until it gradually slides off. Then, massage on a little more oil to remove any remaining adhesive, glue, or residue. If you really have trouble lifting smaller particles of glitter, grab a little fashion tape (not regular Scotch), seal it over the areas with the most glitter specks, and gently lift the tape from your skin. The bits and pieces left over should come right off.

Things can turn scary if you aren't aware of the dos and don'ts of removing Halloween makeup. (Photo: Trunk Archive)
Things can turn scary if you aren’t aware of the dos and don’ts of removing Halloween makeup. (Photo: Trunk Archive)

Tip No. 3: Allow makeup remover to settle

Typically, such Halloween makeup as face paint or heavy kohl crayons are much heavier in pigment and formulations, because they are manufactured as being “built to last.” Many of us automatically think to reach for heavier face washes or to keep scrubbing over and over again with a washcloth. This is a disaster waiting to happen: Be patient. Allowing the product to settle in on your skin for a minute or two before rinsing may seem annoying after dancing the night away at your bestie’s haunted house party, but it saves you from having to repeat it unnecessarily. Try massaging It Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm over your makeup and allowing it to settle on your skin for about 60 seconds. Follow by rinsing your face with lukewarm water. Then pat dry with a towel.

Tip No. 4: Avoid aggressive scrubbing

Gritty exfoliators can leave your skin feeling amazing, but this is one occasion where you might want to leave them for your to-do list for the next morning. After cleansing, if you still find traces of makeup or residue, follow up with a soft microfiber cloth or gentle remover wipes. A really good add-on to the removal process would be to opt for something like Glov On-the-Go; it’s a supergentle microfiber glove that removes traces of makeup in a flash. Alternatively, you can try enlisting the help of a Foreo Luna Mini 2. Instead of having to double, triple, or quadruple a washing, this facial brush, paired with a cleanser, does all the right tricks-and-treats for your face.

Tip No. 5: Go gentle on sensitive skin

Although this is a time where everyone loves to go all out, and grab anything off the shelves that will make their Halloween makeup pop, it’s important to read labels. Many products can include ingredients that may not agree with your skin — especially if you are acne-prone or have any other related skin issues, such as rosacea or dermatitis. “Avoid anything with isopropyl myristate, which is known to cause acne,” says Baumann. This ingredient is very common in cosmetics with pigments, like eyeliner, she says, because it helps the product glide onto the skin. “Since you’re likely applying these products beyond your eyes on Halloween, it’s best to steer clear — especially if you’re already prone to acne.”

Tip No. 6: Be easy on the eyes

Whether it is Halloween or not, the eyes are the most sensitive area of your face, and should be treated with caution as you remove your makeup. Most festive looks accentuate this feature, which is fun for the evening, but it also means you will have to pay special attention later. One wise move is to try a removal product formulated specifically for the eye area. Saturate a cotton pad with an effective but gentle product such as Alba Botanica Even Advanced Sea Elements Eye Makeup Remover. It has naturally based ingredients and doesn’t leave behind unwanted residue.

Tip No. 7: Nourish and protect

Last, but certainly not least, show your skin extra TLC by quenching the thirst of your squeaky-clean pores with moisture. After all the deep cleaning and rinsing, the last thing you want to be left with is dry skin. Add a few droplets of a rich emollient such as Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Oil, which is packed with ingredients that are good for your skin, like chia oil and vitamin E. Its soothing lavender scent will get you all ready for a good night’s sleep, after breaking down all that heavy-duty Halloween makeup.

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