Let’s talk about something that's super important - taking off your makeup at the end of the day! We know, we know, the ‘no makeup, makeup’ look is so in at the moment, but even light coverage needs thorough removal every day. Let's be honest, though, removing makeup can feel like a real chore. So, let’s dive in and find out if using a cleanser versus a makeup remover is a solution! 

First things first, let's talk about what a cleanser is. Cleanser is the product that helps to remove dirt, oil, and other impurities from your skin.They come in various forms such as foams, gels, and creams, and they're typically used as the first step in a double cleansing routine.

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Does cleanser remove makeup?

Now, the big question on everyone's lips: Does cleanser properly remove makeup? And the answer is, it depends. The good news is that many cleansers are formulated with ingredients that can effectively break down and remove makeup, including waterproof makeup, but the bad news is others may not be as effective… So, it's important to check the label and ingredients of your cleanser to see if it's suitable for removing makeup. You may not be able to rely on your cleanser to do 100% of the job, and as you don’t want any leftover makeup residue chilling out on your skin, it’s worth checking.

There are a few different ingredients that can be found in cleansers that can effectively remove makeup. Some of the most common include:


Many cleansers use some form of oil as a base, such as mineral oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil. These oils can help to break down and dissolve makeup, making it easier to wipe away. While it may seem counterintuitive that oil breaks down oil, it’s incredibly effective stuff.


This is an ingredient that helps to emulsify and remove dirt, oil, and makeup from the skin. Common surfactants used in cleansers include sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium cocoyl isethionate.

Vitamin E, glycerin, aloe, etc. 

These ingredients act as moisturisers and emollients to help the skin barrier function properly.

Makeup remover vs cleanser

Now, you may be wondering, if you already use a cleanser, is there really a need for a separate makeup remover? The answer is, yes! Particularly if you’re a ‘heavy on the eye makeup’ kind of gal. While a cleanser may remove some makeup, it's not as effective as a dedicated makeup remover. This is because makeup remover is specifically formulated to break down and remove stubborn makeup, such as waterproof mascara and long-wear foundation.

So, what's the difference between cleanser and makeup remover? Makeup remover and cleanser serve different purposes and are used at different stages in your skincare routine. Makeup remover is specifically designed to break down makeup - and particularly waterproof eye makeup - on the skin, while a cleanser is used to clean the skin removing dirt, oil, and impurities. Makeup removers can come in various forms such as liquid, oil, balms, wipes and more. They’re generally used before cleansing to ensure all traces of makeup are gone before cleansing. Cleansers also come in a few forms, such as foams, gels, and creams - some are water-based, some are oil-based, the list goes on. They’re usually used to cleanse your skin after your makeup has been removed. It's important to remove makeup before cleansing to ensure that the skin is thoroughly cleaned and that the cleanser can penetrate the skin effectively.

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How to remove makeup with a cleanser

If you want to stick with one step and use your cleanser to remove your makeup, to ensure that all makeup, dirt, and grime is fully removed from your face, we’d suggest following the double cleansing method. Double cleansing is a two-step cleansing method that involves using an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, sunscreen, and other oil-based impurities on the skin, followed by a water-based cleanser to remove sweat, dirt, and other water-based impurities. If your cleanser is thorough enough, you can even double cleanse by simply using the same cleanser twice in a row, fully removing all traces with water both times.

How to double cleanse 

The first step in double cleansing is to use an oil-based cleanser, such as a cleansing oil or balm, and gently massage the product into your skin. This will help to break down and remove makeup, sunscreen, and other oil-based impurities. Some people find it helpful to use a warm, damp cloth to gently remove the oil cleanser from their skin after massaging it in.

Next, we’d suggest using a water-based cleanser, such as a gel or foaming cleanser. The anti-bacterial cleanser removes unwanted congestion and dirt from your face while still leaving your skin soft and hydrated. Wet your face and massage the product gently into your skin for at least 30 seconds. Pay extra attention to the areas where dirt and sweat have accumulated. Rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove any remaining traces of the cleanser.

It's also important to use products that are formulated for your skin type, the wrong product can sometimes cause irritation, which is not what we’re after. The most important thing is to be gentle when you're cleansing, and not to overdo it. Over-cleansing can strip the skin of its natural oils, and make it more prone to dryness and irritation. If you’re looking for a cleanser that’s a bit more gentle for your skin, try out the acne hack gentle cleanser gently cleanses your skin leaving it hydrated. 

To find out more on how to properly cleanse your skin, read here

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Is cleanser the same as a makeup remover?

While a cleanser can remove makeup, it's not as effective as a dedicated makeup remover. Makeup removers are specifically designed for removing makeup, while cleanser is formulated to cleanse and purify your skin. So is cleanser the same as a makeup remover? In short, no, they are not the same.

So  there you have it, bestie! That’s the 411 on cleanser versus a dedicated makeup remover in your routine. You now know the secret to success using both a cleanser and a makeup remover in your routine, or at minimum, ensuring your cleanser is fully equipped to do both. There’s no need to split hairs and choose between one or the other, the combo is always better! Using both gives your skin the maximum benefit. Happy cleansing!