Pros Share Their Best Makeup Removal Tips

By now, everyone is aware of the importance of not falling into bed with a full face of makeup. (If not, we’ll remind you that it can lead to clogged pores and the blemishes that follow, not to mention potential eye infections.) And, since today is Halloween, we figured it was time for a refresher in pro makeup removal — especially for you folks donning industrial-grade glitter and mile-long faux lashes. Who better to weigh in than the pros who wear crap-loads of makeup for a living? Here, Broadway stars, burlesque performers, and others share their top picks and tips for taking it all off. Makeup, that is.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Craig Jessup, Makeup Artist For Wicked
What would the Wicked Witch be without her avocado-hued cast? But beneath all that grease paint is Broadway actress Rachel Tucker, who would probably prefer to leave the theater sans green-face.

Tasked with helping Elphaba go green and back again is the show’s makeup artist Craig Jessup. “I've heard a number of funny stories from girls who went to have a facial while playing the role, and the different reactions their aestheticians had to their bright-green extractions. We try to prevent this as much as possible,” he says.
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Jessup always starts with MAC Wipes to gently dissolve the paint around the eyes, cheeks, and lips. They’re also great for removing the stubborn spots along the hairline, and inside and behind the ears, he says. (Because, yes, that green gets EVERYWHERE.)
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In the backstage shower, Tucker gently sweeps away any remaining green from her face with Neutrogena face wash.

Neutrogena Liquid Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Formula, $7.49, available at Neutrogena.
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Then, Tucker swirls Dr. Bronner's soap across her neck, chest, and hands. "It's a vegetable-oil soap that's a little harsh for the face, but is very effective for the makeup pigment on the body," Jessup says.

Dr. Bronner Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap, $6.69, available at Dr. Bronner.
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Tucker has also introduced Dermalogica PreCleanse to the Elphaba green-removing routine. She dispenses it on a conventional baby wipe to take off every last bit of makeup, without disturbing her sensitive skin.

Dermalogica PreCleanse, $38, available at Ulta.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Katherine Crockett, The Queen In Queen Of The Night
To describe Queen of the Night as “dinner theater” would not be doing it anything close to justice. Though some of the theatrics do occur while guests are dining, the off-Broadway production is closer to a circus — if circuses were more like burlesque, sans live animals, and involved spectator interaction.

The star of the show, played by Katherine Crockett, sports an appropriately dramatic look. “My makeup consists of more glitter and eyeshadow than most people wear [in] their entire life,” she says. She tells us how to shed the sparkle after the party has ended.
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“The secret to keeping my sensitive skin breakout-free is using Almay Oil Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads for my entire face, not just my eye makeup,” she says.

Almay Oil Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads, $6.29, available at Drugstore.com.
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"Then, to ensure that I get all my makeup cleaned off, I use Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel," Crockett says. She recommends swirling it in circular motions to “invigorate the skin” and get deep into the pores.

Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel, $38, available at Sephora.
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“The hardest makeup to remove is, by far, the glitter,” Crockett says. “I usually don't mind if some sparkle remains afterwards, but if I do need to be squeaky-clean then I do a facial mask and scrub. GlamGlow has an awesome mask that has green tea and French clay.”

GlamGlow Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment, $69, available at Nordstrom.
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“For super-heavy makeup, my secret is coconut oil, which rehydrates, moisturizes, and is far better for your skin than heavy, petroleum-based products — although Vaseline is a miracle when removing fake eyelashes,” she says.

Spectrum Naturals Organic Coconut Oil, $7.47, available at Walmart.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Dita Von Teese
There is an art to burlesque, and while most of it is focused on languidly moving limbs and deliberately discarding clothing, there is something to be said for the expertly executed makeup and hair. Dita Von Teese, arguably the queen (or, at least, the most high-profile practitioner of) the profession, is always flawlessly polished with her signature beauty mark, ruby-red lips, and impossibly glossy jet-black curls. Her beauty advice is so solid, she even wrote a book on the subject.
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Von Teese is a huge proponent of double-cleansing. “I love MAC’s Cleanse Off Oil. It’s industry-strength and melts away even the most dramatic stage makeup,” she says. “I use that generously with my hands, first without water and then with [water]."

She also uses it to gently lift faux lashes. “You should never rub eyes to remove makeup. [This] is a super-emollient makeup remover that melts it away without having to scrub or tug at the eyes.”
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"I follow up with a foaming [and] soapy wash. I like to use Éminence Stone Crop Gel Wash, and exfoliate with a warm washcloth, then rinse very well," she says.
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Von Teese double-cleanses her body, too. "[To remove] the waterproof, head-to-toe body makeup I wear for my shows, I have to [take] two showers — one at night after the show and another one the next morning — wearing scrubby gloves and Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap to wash it away," she says.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Mike Potter, Makeup Artist For Hedwig And The Angry Inch
The namesake character, Hedwig (last played by Taye Diggs), revisits several moments in his life, but the makeup remains pretty much the same throughout — deep-scarlet lips, drawn-on brows, and loads of sparkles. And, because the role requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally), that face is meant to stay put. So, you can only imagine the removal process once the curtain falls. Mike Potter, the former makeup artist for the production, explains what it takes to send the actor on his way.
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“Albolene is cheap and works for heavy makeup, including anything grease-paint-based,” Potter says.

Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser, $15.69, available at Walmart.
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“I also love Bioderma Créaline H2O. It removes everything — including tough liners and mascara,” says Potter.

Well, almost everything. “In Hedwig, we used Scotch tape after to lift all the embedded excess glitter; [it] takes it right off,” Potter says.
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In more hardcore makeup situations, Potter adds a scrub. “If a face wipe won't suffice, slather cleansing oil all over, jump in the shower, and then maybe add an exfoliant like MAC Volcanic Ash. Then, actually wash your face,” he recommends.

MAC Mineralize Volcanic Ash Exfoliator, $29, available at Bloomingdale's.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Miss America Betty Cantrell
No one would ever accuse pageant contestants of trying to fake “I woke up like this” makeup. They are painted and polished within an inch of their glittery lives. So you know 2016 Miss America winner Betty Cantrell has learned a thing or two about getting all those layers and layers of product off her face when she’s not donning her famous sash and tiara.
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Cantrell goes over her whole face with makeup-remover wipes first. “My favorite makeup removers are by Neutrogena,” she says.

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, $6.49, available at Neutrogena.
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Then, “to really get the eye makeup off and the raccoon look gone, I use the liquid Eye Makeup Remover,” she says. “To make sure I got all the makeup off my face, I use a damp, white washcloth and scrub off any last residue. The white washcloth makes it easier to see [anything] that may be left [over].”

Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, $4.92, available at Drugstore.com.
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