Our Favorite Makeup Remover: The 2022 List Beauty Awards

When we first discovered that makeup remover wipes were bad for your skin and even worse for the environment, we knew we had to find an acceptable substitute that was just as easy to use. The first part of our quest involved finding the right reusable materials to replace the disposable wipes we'd been using. Thankfully, affordable, environmentally friendly options are available through most leading retailers.

These eco-friendly alternatives to makeup wipes – like reusable pads and towels — are only effective when paired with the right makeup remover, though. So our next step was to find the best makeup remover on the market. Enter our 2022 List Beauty Awards selection process! We were tasked with testing five different products to determine whether a balm, cleanser, or micellar water would be best at removing makeup with ease and efficiency.

This was by far one of the most complicated decisions to make, as every makeup remover on this list offers its own unique benefits. Many of the items had more pluses than minuses, and we had to go back and re-test a few of them again to make our final selection. Ultimately, one product emerged as our favorite makeup remover because it was as close to perfect as it possibly can be, and we're thrilled to share it with you here.

Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water: Winner

After much deliberation, we've decided our favorite makeup remover is the E-Rase Milki Micellar Water from Drunk Elephant. Available at Sephora for $28, this product is worth the investment. The price feels a bit staggering if you're transitioning from makeup wipes for the first time, as wipes typically retail for less than $10. But considering the bottle contains eight ounces of milky micellar water and you'll only use a small amount each day, it should last you about a month, which hopefully makes the price feel more manageable.

Drunk Elephant is a fragrance-free brand, and its E-Rase Milki Micellar Water is cruelty-free and vegan in addition to being free from irritating fragrances. The product works well regardless of your skin type, so that's an added bonus. 

To remove our makeup with this product, we dampened a 100% biodegradable clean towel from Clean Skin Club in preparation. Then, we applied a small amount of the Milki Micellar Water to our eyes and face and gently wiped everything away with the dampened towel.

And really, that's all there is to it! If your makeup is being stubborn, Drunk Elephant recommends holding the towel (or whichever reusable cloth you prefer) against the area for a few seconds until the makeup loosens and is ready to be wiped off. We love this product because you don't need to rub your skin raw to remove your makeup — the milky micellar water does all the work for you, and it leaves your skin feeling softer, too.

Revolution Skincare Gentle Eye Makeup Remover: Runner-up

The contest for our favorite makeup remover essentially came down to the E-Rase Milki Micellar Water from Drunk Elephant and the Gentle Eye Makeup Remover from Revolution Skincare. Revolution's makeup remover is easily one of the best products we've ever tried — for the 2022 List Beauty Awards but also just in general. It gently removes makeup without any scrubbing or irritation, and the creamy consistency of the peach kernel oil formula left our skin feeling softer than before.

Revolution's Gentle Eye Makeup Remover is vegan, cruelty-free, and it's free from synthetic fragrances. It's available at Target for $10, and the product is recommended for all skin types with a specificity placed on those with mature, combination, or oily skin. If the price of Drunk Elephant is too steep for you to manage, Revolution's makeup remover is a near-perfect substitute.

All you need to do is dampen a biodegradable cloth or reusable towel and place about a quarter-sized amount of product onto the cloth. Rub the cloth together to spread the cleanser around and then wipe across your eyes to remove your makeup. Although the label says it's specifically designed for eye makeup, you could probably use a small amount on your face to remove foundation before following up with a secondary cleanser.

Pond's Cold Cream Make-Up Remover and Cleanser: Runner-up

Reading the words "cold cream" likely conjures images of 1950s housewives sitting down at their decorative vanities to remove their makeup at night. Although it feels like a vintage product your grandmother would use, there's a reason why cold cream cleansers have been popular for decades. Trying Pond's Cold Cream Make-Up Remover and Cleanser — which is available for a very affordable $4.99 at Target for a six-ounce container — helped us understand the craze around this product. Pond's definitely offers the most bang for your buck, as this container will probably last several months.

Though there's a mild scent that isn't necessarily pleasing, Pond's Cold Cream Make-Up Remover cleared our eye and face makeup away with ease, and it infused our skin with added moisture at the same time. The product is free from formaldehydes, sulfates, dyes, aluminum, and fluoride, and it's also hypoallergenic. If you have sensitive skin, this is one of the best things you can use to remove your makeup since it's very gentle yet effective.

To use this product, you'll open the container and put a small amount of the cream onto your finger. Spread the cream across your face and eyelids, then carefully wipe it away with a dampened cloth. We'd recommend following up with your usual cleanser once your makeup has been removed since this formula is much denser than the other options on our list. 

Farmacy Mini Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm: Runner-up

Trying to figure out how to effectively remove your makeup without using makeup wipes might seem like an impossible task, but replacing your preferred wipes with a cleansing balm is a great solution. The Mini Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm from Farmacy is the best balm we tried, and it's available for $22 from Sephora. The price is a little steep considering you get less than two ounces of product, but if you're looking to splurge on something special, this is a good option.

Farmacy's makeup remover is recommended for all skin types. The product is cruelty-free, vegan, and gluten-free, and it comes in recyclable packaging. This automatically boosted its points for us since we really care about using clean, eco-friendly products. 

To use this makeup remover, start by using the tiny scoop included with the Meltaway Cleansing Balm to take a small amount of product out of the container. Transfer the balm from the scoop to your fingertips and gently rub your fingertips together until the balm melts into an oil.

Next, rub the oil across your eyelids and face and wipe it away with your reusable towel. That's it! Some people have stated that they needed to use a secondary scoop of the cleansing balm to remove all remnants of their makeup, so this is something to bear in mind if you're using heavily layered products. Otherwise, you should be good to go with the initial scoop.

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Meltaway Balm: Runner-up

Finding an affordable alternative to the Farmacy Meltaway Cleansing Balm was important to us, as we wanted to make sure we were selecting products that worked well for any budget. The best available substitute is the Makeup Remover Meltaway Balm from Neutrogena as it essentially works just as well as Farmacy's more expensive product. Neutrogena's balm can be purchased at Target for $11.99, which is a much more reasonable price for two ounces of cleanser.

You'll use the Neutrogena balm the exact same way you'd use Farmacy's balm, except Neutrogena's makeup remover doesn't come with one of those handy little scoops. To remove the product, just use your index finger to ladle out a small amount of balm and rub it between your fingers until it melts into an oil. Remember to rinse the product off your face before opening your eyes, as the balm can cloud your vision and cause mild irritation if it gets into your eyes accidentally. Trust us, it's easy to make this mistake if you're rushing to remove your makeup at the end of the day. If this happens, flush your eyes with cool water repeatedly until they feel better.

The balms weren't as impressive as the other makeup removers we tried for the 2022 List Beauty Awards, which is why they've been relegated to runner-up slots. They do remove makeup well, but the other items were better at cleansing and softening than either the Farmacy or Neutrogena balms were. Nothing can beat our favorite!