If you have a sensitive skin type, you may find it tricky to add new products into your routine—especially when it comes to choosing a cleanser that can effectively remove makeup at the end of a long day. That's because certain go-to ingredients can be harsh on sensitive skin and compromise its protective barrier, leading to irritation, dry patches, and increasingly reactive skin.

If you're wondering how to remove makeup at the end of the day without waking up to redness and discomfort, you've come to the right place. Read on to learn how you can achieve your skin care goals and find a makeup remover for sensitive skin.

The Signs of Sensitive Skin

There are a few ways you can identify a sensitive skin type. First, you may experience areas of redness and inflammation when you use products that contain fragrances or alcohol. Your skin might also sting, burn, or feel tight when you apply a new toner, serum, or cleanser that contains exfoliating agents, like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). You may also find that things outside of your skin care routine irritate your skin, such as chlorine in swimming pools or certain laundry detergents.

If your skin is feeling particularly sensitive, you may have a specific concern like rosacea or eczema, which can be affected by everything from a change in humidity to stress and poor diet.

On the other hand, you may experience sensitive skin simply because you're using too many exfoliating or drying ingredients in your daily routine. This doesn't necessarily mean you have sensitive skin—just that your regimen is too harsh.

Whichever camp you fall into, the best way to identify your triggers and understand your skin type is by getting back to basics and using simple, mild products for a few weeks. Then, gradually add other products back into your routine to see how your skin reacts. If you experience sensitivity, stop immediately and take note of the key ingredients. A board-certified Dermatologist can help you get to the root cause of what's bothering your skin.

How to Remove Makeup Gently

Finding a great makeup remover for sensitive skin is one of the most important parts of cultivating a gentle yet effective skin care routine. The goal is to remove makeup, pollutants, and debris from the skin while keeping the natural skin barrier strong and intact, allowing your subsequent products to be absorbed more effectively.

When it comes to products and ingredients, look for minimalist formulas that are specifically created for your needs. The American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests using products that contain hydrating ingredients like Jojoba Oil, dimethicone, glycerin, and Hyaluronic Acid. The EltaMD Oil-in-Gel cleanser, for example, is formulated with glycerin alongside moisturizing Meadowfoam Seed Oil, the antioxidant Vitamin E, and Turmeric Root Extract to soothe the skin and calm inflammation. Meanwhile, this mild formula wipes away makeup and sunscreen effortlessly.

To use an oil-based cleanser, apply it to dry skin with your hands, massaging it gently around your eyes, face, and neck before rinsing it away with lukewarm water. For heavy makeup, you may want to repeat this step before patting dry. While some people like to use a cleansing tool or brush, Derms advise avoiding these if you have sensitive skin.

Protecting Your Skin All Day Long

Once you've cleansed your face and neck, follow up with a gentle moisturizer that's suitable for sensitive skin. As with your cleanser, look for products that contain humectants like Hyaluronic Acid and glycerin, as these will help to lock in moisture for the rest of the day and minimize irritation. Take care with formulas that contain high percentages of AHAs, BHAs, or retinol, especially when your skin is feeling very fragile.

Last but certainly not least, apply sunscreen. Sensitive skin can be more prone to sunburn, so wrap up your morning routine with a broad-spectrum SPF. A gentle formula such as the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is ideal for those with sensitive, acne, and rosacea-prone skin.

Once you've found the right gentle cleanser for you, you can remove makeup with confidence knowing that you're giving your skin the TLC it deserves. Enter calm, clean, and healthy skin that radiates from within.


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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