The Drag Queen’s Guide To The Best Makeup Removers

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New Year’s Eve makeup is all fun and games until it’s 2 a.m. and you’re standing over your sink three makeup wipes in, still scrubbing away at your glitter eyeshadow. Drag queens, on a fairly regular basis, feel your pain. These performers are experts at both putting that makeup on and also taking it off when they’re exhausted at the end of a long night.

For drag queens, any old generic makeup remover won’t do — they need the good shit. “I’ve tried MANY different makeup removers over the years and my main concern has always been being gentle with my skin,” Baby Love, a Brooklyn-based drag queen, says. “Nothing ages you more than tugging at your skin while drying it out with harsh cleansers.”

We asked four drag queens to tell us which makeup removers really work, plus their tips for taking everything off — from long-wearing lipsticks to glitter eyeliner. Check out their expert picks, ahead.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

FKA Twink, Miami-based drag performer

Instagram

“I swear by Neutrogena makeup removers because they’re so affordable, practical, and feel really good on the skin.”

Neutrogena Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, $4.99, available at Target

“When it comes to wig glue or spray adhesive, we use baby oil to remove it from our hair so we don’t scalp ourselves every time we wear a wig or face tapes. We end up ripping our hairs out and walking around with bald spots on our hairline if we don’t do this carefully and religiously.”

Johnson’s Baby Oil Original Mineral , $3.99, available at Target

Miss Malice, Brooklyn-based drag performer

Instagram

“I recently converted to Pond’s Cold Cream as a makeup remover. So retro, but it works! It’s really moisturizing, which is helpful because all that makeup can take a toll on my skin.”

Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser, $3.97, available at Amazon

“Sometimes I will use a makeup wipe — I like the Yes To brand, especially cucumber or blueberry — to gently take off lipstick and some of my eye makeup before using Pond’s as a cleanser to take off the rest.”

Yes To Yes To Cucumbers Calming Mask Removing Wipes, $2.99, available at Target

Miss Toto, Miami-based drag performer

Instagram

“I use Pond’s Cold Cream, but also coconut oil. Pond’s works amazing and makes your skin feel great, and coconut oil makes your skin feel so soft, too.”

Vita Coco Coconut Oil, $5.99, available at Boots

Baby Love, Brooklyn-based drag performer

Instagram

“My standard routine starts with Clinique’s Take The Day Off cleansing balm. It’s a super gentle and non-messy way to start the makeup-breakdown process. And yes, that’s a dig at cleansing oils that go everywhere! “

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, $19.95, available at All Beauty

“From there, I take a couple passes with Philosophy’s Purity Cleanser, sometimes with my Foreo if it’s a heavy face that night. Then, I top it all off with Tatcha’s Rice Polish. Excessive? Of course! We’re DRAG QUEENS!”

Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser, $24, available at Ulta Beauty

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