I rarely use eye makeup removers. One step, with a good balm cleanser and wet flannel, generally does the job of removing any shadow, liner and mascara, but I concede there are advantages to sweeping everything away before getting down to business on the face. I was reminded of this last month, when I cleaned off black liquid flicks and smoky shadow, and ended up with a filthy facecloth that looked as though I’d just used it to change a tyre. So I tried two dozen dedicated removers that I’d had lying around for months.
I was surprised, but reassured, to find those that performed best were not new and exciting launches, but some old, oft-forgotten favourites, each with slightly different characteristics. Lancôme Bi-Facil (£21.50) remains the gold standard in terms of gently removing every last trace of colour (including waterproof mascara) without drying the skin or leaving behind a vision-blurring film of grease. As is common with French brands, there’s some unnecessary fragrance, but it doesn’t sting unless you’re very sensitive.
If you are, look no further than Naturally Gentle Eye Makeup Remover (£17), one of the many genius Clinique products the brand inexplicably ignores. It’s a creamy, non-oily gel formula that can be massaged carelessly into the eye area without any irritation, then tissued away with every last scrap of makeup. It lasts for months and agrees with all skin types, however irritable, as well as contact lens wearers.
Also grease-free is the Body Shop’s stupendous Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover (£3). I began using this product when I was 13, and I’ve kept a bottle in every squat, flat and house I’ve lived in since. Apart from wiping off all eye makeup, it’s a brilliantly effective stain remover for carpets, upholstery and delicates (just don’t confuse it with its oil-based sister product). It does cause mild stinging in some women, however, so if you’re especially sensitive, opt instead for Simple’s Kind To Eyes (£3.79), which removes makeup and stains almost as well, minus any irritation.
My other enthusiastic bargain recommendation is Nivea’s Daily Essentials Double Effect (£3.89), which removes everything but the kitchen sink at lightning speed, leaving skin moist and comfortable (oily skins may find it too much). Just keep this one, and all other oil-based removers, away from the soft furnishings.