Balms vs. Wipes vs. Micellar Waters: Which Method is Best for Makeup Removal?

We’ve all been there. It’s late, you’ve been out partying all night, and the last thing you feel like doing is taking off your makeup. But you know that you have to, so you head to your bathroom. But you have a few choices on your vanity counter. You look at your makeup removing balm, a bottle of micellar water, and a packet of makeup remover wipes. Which one should you choose? It turns out, those three products aren’t created equal.

The Convenience of Wipes

There’s no denying that wipes are an incredibly easy product to use. Typically, they feature a packet of pre-moistened towelettes or cloth that are soaked in makeup remover. To use them, you simply remove a wipe, swipe it over your face, and voila — the makeup is gone. As compared to the two-step process of applying a cleansing balm and then either wiping or rinsing it off, and the need for pads to use micellar water, wipes are the clear winner in terms of convenience. 

But Wipes Come with a Drawback

However, while your face might look visibly clean to the naked eye, makeup removing wipes aren’t exactly thorough at effectively removing makeup from your face. Often, makeup can still be left in the pores — which can contribute to breakouts and other skin issues. This is especially true if you’re the type who wears a full face of makeup. 

Another reality is that many wipes contain fragrance and even alcohol. And in some cases, the constant friction created by dragging a towelette across your face can irritate people with sensitive skin. Plus, there is the sustainability issue. Disposable wipes can further compound consumer consumption woes. While there are eco-friendly wipes out there, the issue of skin sensitivities and irritation remains. 

The Skinny on Micellar Water

Micellar water is a fan favorite for many people because it’s fairly effective at removing makeup and tends to be gentle even for people with sensitive skin. Unlike wipes, you’ll need something to apply the micellar water such as a washcloth or cotton pads. But this pick is usually free from harsh ingredients and most options whether from a drugstore or premium retailer are designed to be hypoallergenic and paraben-free. 

Micellar Waters Aren’t a Complete Solution

There’s a lot to love about micellar water, but they too have a few shortcomings. Besides the fact that they’re difficult to use without a beauty tool, micellar waters usually aren’t designed to break down waterproof makeup. This means that if you rely on waterproof mascara or liner, you’ll still want to follow up with an eye makeup removing product. Note though, that sometimes you can find micellar waters that are combined with oil — making them effective for oil-based makeup. 

Balms for a Deep Clean

Of the three makeup removing options, cleansing balms are the heavy-duty solution. Unlike wipes or micellar waters, balms are oil-based cleansers that work to genuinely break down makeup as opposed to simply moving it across your face. 

As we mentioned previously, cleansing balms are a two-step process. They require applying the balm to your skin and either wiping it off with a soft cloth or rinsing it with water. However, the added time investment is well worth it as balms do a more complete job of removing not just the visible traces of makeup but lingering bits that get stuck in your pores. 

So Which Product is Best for Removing Makeup?

The answer is, it depends on your makeup style. The frequency and amount of makeup you wear are going to dictate whether you’re better served by wipes, micellar water, or a cleansing balm. People who only wear makeup occasionally might find that wipes or micellar water are sufficient. However, if when you wear makeup, it’s a full face, you should opt for micellar water or a cleansing balm. Similarly, people that wear makeup regularly should skip the wipes and stick to either micellar water or a balm. 

Embrace the Double Cleanse

No matter which product you use to initially remove your makeup, experts agree that a double cleanse process is your best bet. This means that after you’ve first removed your makeup with your preferred product, you should then follow up with your regular facial cleanser to ensure that all traces of makeup have been removed. And, don’t forget to focus on your hairline and under your jaw.

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