How to Remove Mascara Without Makeup Remover

Published February 22, 2018
closeup of woman removing mascara

Mascara is an essential item for many beauty lovers, but it can be difficult to remove. Whether you've run out of your favorite store-bought remover or want to take a more natural approach to cosmetics, it is possible to get mascara off without heading to the nearest makeup counter.

Different Ways to Remove Mascara

As wonderful as it is, mascara can cause your eyelashes to become dry, stiff, brittle, and in some cases, may lead to lash loss over time. That makes it especially important to focus on proper product removal. While there are many types of makeup removers at the drugstore, more people are turning to at-home alternatives.

Milk or Yogurt

It may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind, but dairy products like milk and yogurt have been found to effectively remove eyeliner and mascara. Milk can be used to hydrate the skin and remove stubborn products. All you need is a cotton ball and either whole milk or plain yogurt.

  1. Start by dipping a cotton ball into the milk (or yogurt).
  2. Lightly swipe the cotton pad across the eye area.
  3. Continue until all mascara has been removed.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Baby Wipes

Maybe you've gotten used to taking off cosmetics with those handy makeup removing wipes. They are popular because they are quick, easy, and can be taken with you on the go. An alternative to consider are baby wipes. These can be used instead of a traditional wipe, as they tend to be gentler and more suitable for sensitive skin. Plus, using baby wipes is often more affordable.

woman's hand pulling out baby wipe
  1. Take one baby wipe out of the packaging and adjust the size. (Since these can be larger than a regular makeup wipe, you may want to cut it in half or fold it a few times.)
  2. Gently wipe the cloth over the mascara.
  3. Rub in circular motions to remove all leftover product.
  4. Once everything has been removed, throw away the cloth.


Another option is Vaseline or petroleum jelly. This hidden gem is likely sitting in your medicine cabinet already - and it has the ability to transform your evening routine. Not only does StyleCraze call it the best eye makeup remover, but it is affordable, hydrating, and efficient. If that wasn't enough, using this to remove mascara can actually make your eyelashes appear thicker as time goes on.

  1. Dab a cotton swab into the Vaseline.
  2. Run the swab along the lash line and on the eyelashes to break up the product.
  3. Use a cotton pad or washcloth to wipe it away.
  4. Wash your face as normal.

Cold Cream

Over the years, there have been many uses for cold creams, ranging from a foundation primer to a lip balm and body lotion. One unexpected way to put it to use is to let your cold cream double as a makeup remover. An Allure article found that the combination of ingredients worked well to remove makeup and calm inflamed skin.

  1. Put a small amount of cold cream directly onto your fingers.
  2. Close your eyes and carefully rub the cream over the eyelashes.
  3. Wipe away the product with a wet washcloth.
  4. Remove any excess water by dabbing a dry towel over the area.

Baby Lotion

Anyone with sensitive skin or concerns about irritation should reach for baby lotion. It is an excellent alternative to traditional removers, which can often be harsh and drying. To remove makeup with items you have lying around (or can pick up for a reasonable price), reach for a bottle of Johnson's Baby Lotion. It is designed to be gentle on the skin, which lets you take off your mascara without unwanted irritation.

  1. Take a small amount of lotion and rub it between your fingertips.
  2. Apply directly to the eyelashes.
  3. Move your fingers in circular motions to break up the mascara.
  4. Wipe off with a cotton pad or washcloth before cleansing your face.

Dealing With Waterproof Mascara

While the removal methods above can quickly and easily remove mascara, waterproof products often require something a little more intense. Just like with eye makeup remover, oils or oil-based mixtures are the most effective at breaking down long-lasting formulas. Plus, they add moisture back into the lashes, which is vital, as waterproof mascara can make them more prone to dryness and breakage.

Coconut Oil

This wonder ingredient has countless uses for everything from cooking to household tasks and beauty routines. So, you most likely already have a jar of coconut oil somewhere in your home. Medical Daily discusses the importance of natural oils in your skin care routine since they can cleanse the skin without over-drying. They can also remove even the most stubborn and pigmented makeup products.

coconut oil and writing on chalkboard
  1. Scoop out a small amount of coconut oil and heat up in your fingers until it becomes liquefied.
  2. Rub it onto a cotton pad.
  3. Close your eyes and press the cotton pad onto your eyelashes. Wait for twenty to thirty seconds for the product to dissolve.
  4. Slowly wipe away the waterproof mascara and rinse with lukewarm water.

Witch Hazel and Almond Oil

If coconut oil is not your thing, there is an alternative recipe to consider. Witch hazel and almond oil work together to remove difficult eye makeup, waterproof mascara included! Well-known actress and lifestyle blogger Julianne Hough dubbed this her favorite all-natural eye makeup remover. This concoction easily removes waterproof makeup, does not sting or irritate the eyes, and can be stored for six months.

  1. Mix two tablespoons of witch hazel, two tablespoons of almond oil, and two tablespoons of water (preferably filtered) in a container.
  2. Shake the bottle well and apply the mixture to a cotton pad.
  3. Close your eyes and swipe the cotton pad over the eyelashes.
  4. Gently wipe away and rinse with lukewarm water.

Must-Have Mascara Removal Tips

With plenty of removal options to consider, you are almost ready to say 'so long' to stubborn makeup. Here are a few more tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • If you are having trouble removing waterproof mascara that sits along the lash line, use a Q-Tip for added precision.
  • Never scrub at your eyelashes. Be gentle! Otherwise, it can lead to eye irritation or even eyelash breakage.
  • Be careful when you use cotton pads or wipes as too much force can pull out your eyelashes.
  • If you find any mascara remover to be too harsh, moisten the cotton pad with warm water before you apply the removal ingredient.

Find the Method You Like Best

Removing your makeup doesn't have to be a painstaking process. There are many products and ingredients that can do the job just as effectively, and often times are more affordable, than store-bought alternatives. See what works for you and find a method that is quick, easy, and above all else, comfortable.

How to Remove Mascara Without Makeup Remover