The review: Cleansers and eye make-up removers

Make-up removers review

How often – and how well – do you wash your face with make-up removers? It might feel like a chore, but regular cleansing (morning and evening) is, of course, a key part of any effective skincare routine. Cleansing removes all sorts of undesirables, including dirt, sweat, sebum, dead skin cells, pollutants, bacteria and make-up. Fail to wash these away, and you’re risking spots, blocked pores, dullness, pigmentation, irritation, inflammation and various other signs of premature ageing.

Sarah at Christmas
I review cruelty-free make-up removers, which are suitable for sensitive skin. Any of these could make perfect Christmas stocking presents!

Like a lot of women, for obvious reasons, I haven’t worn nearly as much make-up as usual in the past 18 months. But with the festive season fast approaching – and Christmas events back on the calendar – I will soon once again ‘put on my face’ and a fancy frock to meet with family and friends. However, I’m determined to put just as much effort into removing all my make-up and cleansing fully. COVID has disrupted my beauty routine and I’m keen to get back on track, especially where my skincare is concerned. So, I’ve been experimenting with a range of different cleansers and eye make-up removers, to see what works best. I try to shop responsibly, so all of the products I’ve tested here are cruelty-free, and suitable for sensitive skin. Read on to discover the results…

Make-up removers review

Slow Ageing Essential Face Wash

Some face washes can be very drying – and way too harsh for sensitive skin like mine. But, I can tell you this one most definitely isn’t. Slow Ageing’s Essential Face Wash is a creamy, nourishing formulation, packed full with plumping fatty acids and pure essential oils. It really does hold the most absolutely divine aroma! You activate this cleanser with water, before massaging into your skin, and rinsing off. I like to use a clean, warm flannel for this, which acts as an extra but super-gentle exfoliator.

This cleanser left my skin feeling soft and smooth. I would definitely recommend it as phase two of a double cleanse, especially in the evening. Double cleansing simply means washing your face with two different cleansers. The combination you choose is, of course, up to you. But, most people start with eye make-up removers or light lotions/micellar waters, and follow these with richer cleansing balms or creams like this.

Slow Ageing make-up removers
Slow Ageing’s Essential Face Wash is cruelty-free, made in the UK, and contains 100% pure oils and botanicals. It costs £26 for 50ml

Rhug Wild Beauty Purifying Cleansing Lotion With Dandelion

Rhug Wild Beauty’s Purifying Cleansing Lotion With Dandelion claims to rebalance and nourish skin, gently exfoliating but without drying. They recommend this product for congested, dehydrated and uneven skin. You can use it morning and/or evening as the first step in your skincare routine.

This cleansing lotion feels light and gentle – and it also has a fantastic scent. You massage it onto your face, and remove with warm water. The formula is rich in antioxidants – vitamins and minerals that protect the skin from oxidative damage, which in turn can accelerate skin ageing. I would recommend using this as a morning cleanse. Then, use it either for the first or second step of an evening double cleanse, depending on how much make-up and SPF you need to remove.

Rhug Estate make-up removers
Wild Beauty is the brainchild of Rhug Estate owner Lord Newborough. This skincare collection is natural, organic, sustainably sourced and cruelty-free. Its Purifying Cleansing Lotion With Dandelion features wild foraged dandelion, and it comes in a recyclable glass bottle. It retails at £55 for 120ml

Voya Totally Balmy Facial Cleansing Balm

I definitely believe that cleansing balms can make some of the best make-up removers. Some people may be put off by their texture – especially those with greasy skin. However, the right balm will simply melt away make-up and impurities, leaving your complexion soft, smooth and deep-down clean.

Voya’s Totally Balmy Facial Cleansing Balm is one of those just-right formulations that’s rich, not greasy, with the perfect amount of ‘slip’. It’s made with algae extracts sourced from the Atlantic coast of Ireland, and effortlessly emulsifies dirt and grime. It comes with its own Voya muslin cloth, which gently polishes the skin while removing the cleanser. It’s nicely, but not excessively, aromatic. I think this works especially well during colder months. I tend to find this is when skin is often drier and in need of some extra TLC.

Voya cleanser
Voya’s Totally Balmy Facial Cleansing Balm easily removes all traces of make-up and everyday impurities and pollutants. It costs £44 for 100ml

Angela Langford Clean Sweep

If your skin is dry, damaged, dull or flaky, I suggest you try Angela Langford’s Clean Sweep. This is another of my favourite make-up removers. Priced at just £18 for 50ml, it’s also a serious bargain. This formula combines almond, apricot, safflower, jojoba, chamomile, lemon and eucalyptus to cleanse, soften and smooth your skin, while restoring its natural glow. I found it mighty efficient at removing my maquillage – even tackling waterproof mascara with ease!

To use, warm a pea-sized amount between the palms of your hands, and massage onto moist, warm skin. Rinse off with warm water and the cleansing cloth provided, then repeat (using cooler water) until you remove all the product. This balm is recommended for all skin types except oily or acne-prone, as it’s very rich. But it’s absolutely perfect for dry skin, which lacks oil (and is different from dehydrated skin, which lacks water). However, when shopping for skincare, it’s worth knowing that skin can be both dry and dehydrated, at the same time.

Angela Langford make-up removers
Priced at just £18 for 50ml, Angela Langford’s Clean Sweep is a bargainous radiance-boosting balm that cleanses gently but thoroughly to leave skin soft and hydrated

Tea & Tonic The Meadow’s Secret Cleansing Balm

Wellness and skincare brand Tea & Tonic is a recent discovery for me. Its USP involves adaptogens: plants and herbs that can reportedly rebalance the skin’s stress response, support the immune system, and promote general skin health. The Meadow’s Secret Cleansing Balm (£28 for a 50g jar) is a nutrient-rich formulation fortified with an adaptogen superherb complex. It felt super soft and ‘cushiony’ on application, and easily dissolved my make-up to leave my skin feeling soft and supple. This formula (like many balms) does contain beeswax, although you can request a vegan alternative, which I think is pretty impressive.

Tea Tonic make-up removers
The Meadow’s Secret Cleansing Balm is a secret no longer! I’m a big fan of this natural, cruelty-free cleanser. It includes Crambe Abyssinian Seed Oil, grown as part of the Bee Friendly project/RHS Plants for Pollinators, which help local ecosystems by supporting a healthy bee population

Organic Works Cleansing Face Wash

If you prefer light formulations to wash your face, I’d recommend Organic Works Cleansing Face Wash (£15 for 300ml). It lathers well, smells gorgeous, and makes short work of daily dirt and grime, without stripping. It includes vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant that moisturises the skin and strengthens the skin barrier), plus rose geranium flower oil. It’s an excellent choice for a refreshing morning cleanse.

Organic Works cleanser
Enriched with rose geranium flower and aloe vera, Organic Works Cleansing Face Wash is vegan, cruelty-free, and suitable for sensitive skin

Dr. Hauschka Eye Make-up Remover

Cleansing balms are excellent options for removing all sort of cosmetics. But sometimes, only eye make-up removers will do. If I’m sporting a glittery/ smoky eye, or wearing waterproof mascara, I usually reach for a specialist formulation to take that off first, before removing the rest of my make-up. Dr. Hauschka Eye Make-up Remover (£20 for 75ml) cleanses gently but thoroughly, and is suitable for all skin types. This cleanser incorporate two phases: one oil-based, and one water-based. Before applying, you have to shake them thoroughly to mix, and they combine to create a light yet nourishing eye make-up remover that melts away even waterproof formulations, without dragging or rubbing.

Dr Hauschka eye-make up remover
Twice as nice: Dr. Hauschka Eye Make-up Remover is a clever, dual-phase formulation that tackles even waterproof eye make-up with ease

Ilapothecary See-Clearly Eye Make-up Remover

Ilapothecary See-Clearly Eye Make-up Remover is the product I reach for when I arrive home from a late night out – or after a hard day staring at my screen. It instantly cools and refreshes tired, dry or sensitive eyes, as well as removing every scrap of make-up. Its key ingredients include cucumber oil and cucumber extract to soothe and hydrate, plus calming calendula.

Ilapothecary
Eye want: Ilapothecary’s See-Clearly Eye Make-up Remover is my go-to product when my eyes are sore or tired after a long day, or a late night. It costs £27 for 50ml

In line with my efforts to always use organic/vegan/ethical beauty products wherever possible, I try to avoid single-use cotton wool to apply my eye make-up removers. I love these Greenzla Reusable Make-up Remover Pads. They’re handmade from organic bamboo cotton. When you’ve finished with them, instead of throwing them away, you simply throw them in the washing machine instead. They feel super-soft on my eyes, are designed to last for years, and offer excellent value for money.  Eco-friendly, purse-friendly, and zero waste – they even come with their own special wash bag!

Greenzla makeup remover pads
Instead of disposable cotton wool, I use these washable Greenzla Reusable Makeup Remover Pads with all my eye-make removers. They cost £14.78 for a pack of 20, which includes a laundry bag and storage box

If you’re planning on self-tanning before your Christmas party, click here to read my reviews of the best body and face bronzers.

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