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These 9 tricks for removing caked-on Halloween makeup are so easy, it's scary

The end of the night doesn't need to be spooky — here are the safest, most effective products to remove a ghoulish face fast.

Person in Halloween makeup
Simple coconut oil does wonders for removing Halloween makeup. (Getty) (fotostorm via Getty Images)

It's the end of the night on October 31st. The tricks have been treated, you've had all the Hallows' Eve fun. After a long day, you're ready to crash. But there's just one problem: Your face (or your kid's face) is slathered in scary-clown makeup. You know no one should go to bed looking like a ghoul, but you also know a washcloth and bar soap are no match for this cleansing task. The best ways to remove Halloween makeup? Read on.

Quick overview
  • Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly Original

    Best for glues/adhesives

  • Viva Naturals Organic Coconut Oil

    Best for Fake Lashes

  • Scotch-Brite Lint Roller

    Best for surface glitter

  • Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

    The Product You'll use All Year

  • Pond's Cold Cream

    The old standby

  • Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser

    The Fan Favorite

  • Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water For Waterproof Makeup

    Best For Waterproof Makeup

  • Bioderma Micellar Water Sensitive Skin

    The Original

  • Burt's Bees Micellar Cleansing Water

    The All-Natural Pick

See 4 more

Step 1: Remove glitter and/or adhesives

Person with red eye shadow
The best Halloween makeup removers can stand up to stubborn glitter and lash adhesive. (Getty) (adrianova_ via Getty Images)

OK, so you really went for it this year — fake lashes, rock-star glitter, glued-on jewels, faux wounds, the works. Whatever your embellishments, you'll want to be careful taking them off to avoid damaging your skin and, potentially, leaving long-term marks. The key here is to go slow and be gentle — no ripping or tugging. As in so much of life, when removing Halloween makeup, patience is a virtue.

An oil-based product like classic Vaseline is ideal for loosening adhesives and removing lingering glue from brows and cheeks. Just dab it around the stuck-on area, let sit for a minute or two and gently — gently — peel off. No-duh advice: Be careful to avoid getting it in your (or your loved one's) eyes.

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From cooking to body care, coconut oil's uses are seemingly endless, and this all-natural emollient can aid in removing lash glue too. Apply with a cotton swab for the most precise results (and to avoid it leaking directly into your eyes). Feel free to swap coconut oil to replace Vaseline, if that's what you happen to have on hand.

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Follow any Reddit thread on the "best way to get rid of glitter" and you'll come away thinking tape is the only way to remove this highly-spreadable makeup beast. But the same tape that works well on gift wrap can actually — little surprise — irritate your face. Before you tackle the glues and makeup underneath, carefully roll a clean lint roller over the sparkly area. Repeat until the roller's surface comes up clean.

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Step 2: Wash face with a cleansing balm

Don't let the fancy "balm" in the name fool you. What you need here is simple: a moisturizing cleaner that will tenderly lift all the greasy/cheap makeup pigments without you having to rub your face raw. Any of the following high-quality products will work — and they'll work fast.

This ultra-nourishing salve is a favorite of professional makeup artists who often need to remove serious face paint without damaging their (often high-profile) clients' skin. It's filled to the brim with soothing ingredients like chamomile and lavender and as the (many!) TikTok videos attest, it really works. Bonus: The high quality of this 3-in-1 cleanser will make you want to use it year-round. 

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Turns out, your grandmother's drugstore skin-care secret is a spookily effective Halloween makeup remover as well. Just slather on an ample amount (it should look like a mask on top of whatever you already have on) and use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe it off. Rinse and repeat until your goblin-face looks like a normal face.

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Listen, people love this makeup remover, like they LOVE it. It currently has more than 20,000 Amazon reviews, most of which are some version of: "Best makeup remover ever!!"

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Step 3: The final wash

Close-up of female eye with mascara running. Note to inspector: self-portrait
After you remove most of your Halloween makeup with a cleansing balm, a final wash with micellar water will soothe skin and ensure you don't have "raccoon eyes" the following day. (Getty) (Nadzeya_Kizilava via Getty Images)

You know how when you were a kid and your mom managed to get most of your Halloween makeup off but, still, you somehow walked around with raccoon eyes for a week no matter how much you washed your face? Or how you'd find weird red-devil residue on your earlobe while sitting in class on November 3rd? Well, I am here to tell you two things: 1. Face cleansing technology has advanced since 1986 and 2. Micellar water is the answer to your lingering Halloween-makeup woes.

Micellar water is not a scammy way to make you pay more for water, but actually a combination of water plus skin-moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and something called "surfactants" which, experts say, are like magnets for dirt. Micellar water is super lightweight and mild enough to use on any kind of skin; you apply it with a cotton ball or pad which makes it perfect for removing makeup from hard-to-reach places like ear crevices and the corners of your eyes. After you've finished, swipe one last round across the entire face with a clean cotton ball for a bonus post-Halloween glow.

Garnier offers several versions of its popular (30,000+ 5-star reviews!) micellar water, but this "waterproof makeup" option is best for removing Halloween debris.  

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You can't really talk about micellar water without talking about Bioderma, "the original inventor of micellar technology," according to the brand. Can 40,000 5-star reviews (including one that says "Quite literally a FREAKING GODSEND!") be wrong? I suspect not!

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I like Burt's Bees products. Maybe you do too. This version of micellar water is dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested, contains lotus flower and coconut and is 99.5% natural and formulated without parabens, phthalates, petrolatum or SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a surfactant).

$11 at Amazon