Picture this: Your unicorn, zombie-in-an-apocalypse, or Pennywise the Dancing Clown makeup wins Halloween. After fully rubbing it in all your friends' faces and cutting a mean rug on the dance floor, you retire to your room. Then at 4 a.m., a horrifying realization pops into your head. You don't have two ideas on how to get Halloween makeup off your face. That, my friends, is truly the most terrifying hypothetical situation to occur in the month of October. I shudder to think of the repercussions of leaving Halloween Spirit store goop on overnight.
“Unlike cosmetics designed for daily use, costume makeup isn't designed necessarily with skin care in mind. The goal is to give heavy coverage and bold colors," says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai. "This type of makeup can cause breakouts, or preservatives and fragrances that can cause allergies or irritation," Dr. Zeichner continues.
Sure, you could scrub until your complexion is red and raw, but that doesn't even guarantee certain kinds of long-lasting makeup will go the way of the drain. Instead, consider the product recommendations and wise words of stellar dermatologists, so your skin can look great on Nov. 1.
Traditional Makeup Remover
"Don't rush the process of using makeup remover," says Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, an NYC dermatologist and clinical attending at NYU Langone Health and Mount Sinai Hospital. She advises giving a remover time to work by allowing it to sit on the skin for a couple of minutes. This minimizes the need for manual scrubbing, which can cause irritation, and also gives you a break to mentally piece together your night.
The Double Cleanse
Popular in Asia, the double cleanse is a method of sudsing up twice to fully purge makeup, dirt, and oil from your pores. The first go around is typically with an oil-based cleanser, followed by another wash with a foam or cream. Dermalogica PreCleanse Balm ($45; dermalogica.com), which comes recommended by Dr. Zeichner, transforms from a soothing balm into an oil and comes with a soft cleansing mitt. Together the duo oust even stubborn makeup, but to be sure, follow with a wash from your traditional cleanser to rinse away any remaining residue.
The Kitchen Solution
Naturalistas wax poetic about the benefits of coconut oil for just about everything, and Harvard-trained Dr. Michelle Henry of the Skin And Laser Surgery Center of New York recommends it for Halloween makeup removal. "A nickel to quarter sized amount should be sufficient," she says. The natural wonder attracts and emulsifies any oil-based pigments in your makeup, so they'll rinse away with water. Just like with double cleansing, you will want to follow up with your usual face wash.
The Spa Treatment
Steaming your face feels like a spa visit, which is perfect for unwinding after a long All Hallow's Eve night. "Fill a bowl with hot water and add a few drops of an essential oil (like eucalyptus) for a relaxing steam session," suggests Dr. Henry. The hot air opens up your pores to dislodge lingering gunk that can lead to pimples.
Your Mom's Cold Cream
Sensitive or dry types may want to hit up mom's medicine cabinet for some classic cold cream. "Slather it on and then wipe skin with a wash cloth to remove makeup while moisturizing the skin," says Dr. Henry. The OG Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser ($5; Target) works like a charm, but you can also try the brand's cold cream-infused wipes.
Dry Before Wet
Exhausted girls, rejoice: Oily or acne-prone skin can benefit from using a makeup wipe. "It gives the additive physical exfoliation," says Dr. Levin, "but you still need to wash with cleasner and water afterwards." She personally prefers Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser ($10; Target), which is a hypoallergenic option well-tolerated by virtually any skin type.
It's also widely available at drugstores, and serves as a great final step for every other option listed here.