Better Goods Skincare

The Best Natural Makeup Remover (19+ Products Ranked)

Better Goods

Feb 21, 2022

makeup remover

Traditional makeup removers that you're likely to find in a drugstore aren't always easy to work with, and often have a long list of ingredients that we'd prefer to avoid.

Conversely, makeup removers in the form of oil or balm make it so much easier and quicker to remove makeup. Not only that, but using an oil-based cleanser will clean the face of excess sebum, dirt and grime that may have accumulated over the day.

This is where clean beauty comes in, where you can choose a natural, gentle makeup remover that will not only effectively remove makeup without damaging the skin, but is full of natural ingredients and is often better for the environment, too.

Common oils used in clean makeup removers include:

  • jojoba oil
  • roeship oil
  • sunflower seed oil
  • olive oil
  • sweet almond oil
  • castor seed oil

All you have to do is apply a bit of the product to your hands, then massage it all over your face. You can add a bit of water to help the product emulsify, then use a damp cloth to easily remove even waterproof mascara and lipstick in an effective way.

Balms are essential an oil cleanser in a different format. These are typically hard oils that come in a jar, and are used in essentially the same way as a cleansing oil. I find cleansing oils to be a bit quicker because they don't have to dissolve in your hands, but balms are great too because they feel luxurious to use.

The great thing about oil and balm makeup removers is that they often contain a much shorter list of cleaner ingredients compared to traditional makeup removers, sometimes being even good enough to eat (if, for some reason, you felt hungry for a makeup cleanser.)

Micellar Water

Also known as cleansing water, micellar water is an effective makeup remover typically made from purified water and suspended surfactant molecules which attract dirt and oil.

Micellar water can also be used as a first cleanse, and makes the routine of washing your face even quicker. Micellar water is also handy for easily removing eye makeup, plus it's great for travel because it can be used in multiple ways. For example, it can be used to retouch makeup on the go when you mess up, plus it's harder to spill a micellar water as compared to an oil.

Micellar water needs a cotton round to be used. To remove makeup with micellar water, just apply some to the cotton round and use it to remove the makeup all over your face. Keep using it until the cotton round is clean, and all of the makeup is removed from your face.

To efficiently use micellar water to remove eye makeup, hold the cotton round on your eyes for about 10 seconds, then wipe.

The Double Cleanse

While you can use all of the cleansers on our list on their own, we recommend using them as part of a double cleanse routine.

Japan and Korea are the founding mothers of the double cleanse technique. Apparently, cleansing oils were the only method of removing the white paint-like makeup that 14th century women in these countries wore. The oil cleanse was followed up with a foaming cleanser.

It's as simple as it sounds—you can use and oil cleanser, balm, or micellar water as your first cleanse, and follow it up with a foam or gentle cleanser.

Our Methodology

We looked at social media, popular online shops like Credo, Sephora, and iHerb, and reviews across the review 15+ of the most popular clean and natural makeup removers available. They're rated on this scale:

Best ???? – These products are the best of the best. They contain all-clean ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.

Good – These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.

Iffy – These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients that are questionable.

Bad – These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.

The Best Natural Makeup Removers

Of the makeup removers we looked at, these has the cleanest and safest list of ingredients. Any one of these is a great choice if clean ingredients are a priority for you.

OSEA

Ocean Cleansing Milk
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $54 ($10.8 per oz)

Osea’s Ocean Cleansing Milk has a great list of ingredients. There’s no concerning ingredients here, and the main ingredients (in particular, the oils) are all organic.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 1*

Pai Skincare

Light Work
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $49 ($14.85 per oz)

This oil-based makeup remover has 90% organic ingredients, and none that are toxic. For its great list of ingredients, it gets a top rating.

Citronellol is naturally occurring but can also be made synthetically. This ingredient falls into the list of allergens under the EU legislation. It may cause pigmentary anomalies, known as melanosis faciei feminae. This ingredient may also cause contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 8*

Tata Harper

Nourishing Makeup Removing Oil Cleanser
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $82 ($20 per oz)

This cleanser consists of a majority of organic ingredients, all of which are clean. The only ingredients to look out for are the four ingredients at the end of the list, all of which are derived from essential oils and can be potentially irritating to sensitive skin.

Citronellol is naturally occurring but can also be made synthetically. This ingredient falls into the list of allergens under the EU legislation. It may cause pigmentary anomalies, known as melanosis faciei feminae. This ingredient may also cause contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 4*

Badger

Unscented Face Cleansing Oil
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $15.99 ($8 per oz)

With all organic ingredients and no irritants, this cleanser has the best ingredients of all of the makeup removers we looked at. For this reason, we give it a top rating.

Ingredients:

Andalou Naturals

Age Defying Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $14.99 ($2.5 per oz)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 3*

Makeup Removers Rated: Good

These natural cleansers are good, but have one or two ingredients that stop us from giving them a "best" rating.

BYBI Beauty

Swipe Clean Oil Cleanser
Rating: Good
Price: $26.99 ($7.99 per oz)

This cleanser has a total of 8 oils, and no concerning ingredients nor potential irritants.

Ingredients:

Kopari Beauty

100% Organic Coconut Melt
Rating: Good
Price: $28 ($5.49 per oz)

The only ingredient in this product is organic coconut oil. User reviews state that it applies more smoothly than store-bought coconut butter, but this product does come at a significant markup versus regular coconut oil.

Ingredients:

Drunk Elephant

Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
Rating: Good
Price: $34 ($8.76 per oz)

While the ingredients of this Drunk Elephant cleanser aren’t all-natural, none of them are of concern. For this reason, we give a “good” rating to this popular cleanser.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 1*

Mad Hippie

Cream Cleanser
Rating: Good
Price: $15.99 ($4 per oz)

With a clean list of ingredients, some of which are organic, this popular cream cleanser gets a “good” rating.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

Desert Essence

100% Pure Jojoba Oil
Rating: Good
Price: $13.99 ($3.5 per oz)

This product is 100% jojoba oil. While it’s not organic, it is a clean product and therefore gets a good rating.

Ingredients:

Purito

From Green Cleansing Oil
Rating: Good
Price: $21 ($3.11 per oz)

This product contains 5 natural oils and no toxic ingredients. It does contain one potential irritant to note, however.

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

Glow Recipe

Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover
Rating: Good
Price: $32 ($9.41 per oz)

Pentylene glycol has shown evidence of being an irritant. Studies show that it can cause contact dermatitis, which indicates that Pentylene Glycol is a sensitizing ingredient and can be considered as an allergen. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

Biossance

Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil
Rating: Good
Price: $30 ($4.48 per oz)

This makeup remover from Biossance has no ingredients of concern and is safe to use. It does contain 4 potential irritants, which may be a concern for those with sensitive skin, however.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 4*

Acure

Brightening Micellar Water
Rating: Good
Price: $9.99 ($1.25 per oz)

This micellar water makeup remover has a clean list of ingredients, with only one worth pointing out.

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 1*

Sukin

Micellar Cleansing Water
Rating: Good
Price: $10.99 ($1.3 per oz)

While most of the makeup removers on our list are oil-based, this is a micellar water cleanser. There are two ingredients worth mentioning, neither of which are concerning enough to warrant less than a “good” rating.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Benzyl alcohol is listed by the The European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) as a well-recognized consumer allergen. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

Makeup Removers Rated: Iffy

These cleansers have a few ingredients that we consider iffy, making these products some we wouldn't recommend.

Drunk Elephant

E-Rase Milki Micellar Water
Rating: Iffy
Price: $28 ($3.5 per oz)

This popular micellar water gets an iffy rating because of its inclusion of polysorbate-20.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Polysorbate 20 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care should be taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 4*

Farmacy Beauty

Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm
Rating: Iffy
Price: $34 ($10 per oz)

While this makeup remover is often considered a clean beauty staple, the inclusion of the following ingredients make us unable to recommend it over other cleansers on our list.

Glyceryl Triisostearate (PEG-20) can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

PEG-10 Isostearate can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 6*

One Love Organics

Botanical B Enzyme Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover
Rating: Iffy
Price: $42 ($10.5 per oz)

This product reports to have fragrance/parfum, which we always consider an ingredient to avoid. However, since it’s not clear if this fragrance is natural or synthetic, we give this product an iffy rating.

The ingredient “fragrance” means that there is a mixture of several essential oils or synthetic or natural chemicals that makeup the scent of the product. According to European and US legislation, the ingredients of the fragrance do not have to be revealed on the product’s ingredients list. Because these ingredients are not disclosed, we always consider this a “bad” ingredient.

Ingredients:

Derma E

Universal Cleansing Balm
Rating: Iffy
Price: $15 ($4.29 per oz)

Retinol is a controversial ingredient and there are a number of conflicting studies on the ingredient. Read our full description on retinol above to see why we give it a bad rating.

There is some concern that tocopheryl acetate is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient. (source)

Polysorbate 20 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

We consider “natural fragrance” to be an “Iffy” ingredient simply because it is a blanket term for unknown fragrance ingredients. Because these are natural fragrances, the main concern is skin irritation or allergic reaction, but this shouldn’t be a concern if you aren’t prone to these issues.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 4*

Conclusion

All of the products we looked at are marketed as being clean and natural. Like many other product categories, just because a product claims to be clean, it doesn't mean it actually is.

For a simple choice in a cleanser, look at any of the products we gave a rating of "best"—any of them are a great choice.

 
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