You might think that ruining a perfectly drawn eyeliner while putting on your clothes is tragic. But just imagine the panic attack you get when you try rubbing the black smear off your favorite white top, and it starts resembling a piece from a modern art gallery.
Anyone who puts on a face full of makeup is familiar with shirt collars turning beige from foundation or jacket sleeves getting swiped with swatches of glittery highlighter. Before you say farewell to your beloved top, however, you might want to try these brilliantly simple and somewhat-zany solutions on how to get makeup out of clothes.
Removing Stains by Makeup Type
The main trouble with removing makeup is that makeup is designed to stay on. That 24-hour foundation might be your skin’s best friend, but it is your cashmere sweater’s worst nightmare.
Another problem is that a cosmetic product has anywhere between 15 to 50 ingredients, and the first rule of fighting a stain is knowing what that stain is made of. If you want your wardrobe to survive, you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with different makeup stain types and how to remove them.
Many eyeshadows, mineral foundations, blushes, and any powder makeup you apply with a brush share talc as a common ingredient. Talc has very small particles that sit perfectly on your face and smooth its appearance. On clothes, however, these small particles get stuck on the fibers of the fabric.
Removing Powder Using Hairdryer
Grab a hairdryer and blow the powder off, making sure to use the cool setting and not the high heat one to prevent it from setting into the fabric. The hand dryer from the public restroom works too.
If there isn’t a dryer handy, the next best thing is to take a deep breath, purse your lips, and blow the powder off.
Removing Powder Using Lint Roller
The key to removing powder is to lightly roll on it. Don’t press on the lint roller too hard, or the particles will get pushed into the fabric.
Removing Powder Using Nylon Tights
Powdered makeup is no match for the versatile nylon tights. With extra-fine fibers, they’re good at catching all sorts of particles. So good, they’re even used as a mask filter. Just grab your pantyhose and start patting on the powder stain.
If you check the ingredients list of your foundation, you might find emulsions or silicone. It’s pretty much just saying it has oil in it. This is the reason why you can’t easily wash away foundation, concealer, or cheek tint off your clothes.
Removing Liquid Foundation Using Dish Soap
Now that you know oil is the main agent of liquid foundation, you’ll know how to attack it. What’s oil’s main adversary? Dish soap. That’s right—it’s not just for dishes; it works great on fabrics too.
Wet the affected area on your clothes and dabble with grease-busting dish soap using tissue paper to break down the stain.
You can cry all you want, but waterproof mascara isn’t going to leave your lashes or your messed-up plain tee. Waterproof mascara is heavy on oily ingredients, like carnauba wax, which is the same product used to repel water on cars.
So water (or tears) isn’t going to cut it, but a special type of water will. Micellar water has “micelles” that can pull out oil particles. If this toughie is putting up a fight, it’s time to head to a professional dry cleaner for an oil solvent solution.
The ultimate reason why lipstick stays on your lips for so long is because of its oil and wax ingredients. It’s also the reason why removing ruby red kisses on your lapel or your handkerchief is such a daunting task.
Removing Lipstick Using Rubbing Alcohol
The first in line to combat the dreaded pigmented and waxy lipstick stain is good ol’ rubbing alcohol. Douse a washcloth or a cotton ball with alcohol and rub the stain away.
Removing Lipstick Using Hairspray
An alcohol-based hairspray can do wonders on lipstick stains, too. Spritz a good amount of hairspray on the stain and wait for it to dry. After about 10 minutes, use a moist cloth or wet wipe to lightly pat on the mark.
Removing Lipstick Using Disinfectant Spray
Since the main active ingredient of a disinfectant spray is ethyl alcohol, it can also be used to remove lipstick stains. Spray directly on the stain and wait 20 minutes before you handwash or toss your clothes in the washer.
Unlike makeup that can last, at most, an entire day on your face, nail polish is formulated to last up to two weeks on your fingernails. It also contains resin, the same substance used for gluing together construction materials.
While acetone is the perfect nail polish remover for your tips and toes, it can be extremely damaging to delicate fabrics. If you get nail polish on your clothes, tap away with a cotton ball splashed with non-acetone lacquer remover. You can also blot it with a paper towel soaked in alcohol.
Removing All Kinds of Makeup Stains
If you accidentally spilled the entire content of your makeup bag on your skirt, or you just wiped your face clean with a towel, it’ll be hard to figure out which remover to clean the stains with. Luckily, there are all sorts of universal makeup stain removers you can use.
Using Makeup Wipes
This makeup trick is best for recent slip-ups. As soon as you spot a drizzle of powder or a drop of primer on your clothes, dab immediately with makeup wipes.
Using Oil-Free Makeup Remover
Makeup removers are best for the skin, but they can also perform miracles on fabrics. Just make sure to use an oil-free makeup remover, unless you want to turn your teeny smudges into obvious splotches.
Administering the makeup remover with your oily fingertips won’t do you any good either. Use a spoolie brush instead to flick away the stains. You can also opt for a clean mascara wand wrapped in a cotton pad.
Using Ice Cubes
If you need a quick-fix during a night out, an ice cube actually does a pretty decent job in removing makeup mishaps.
First, you have to scrape off excess makeup product from your clothes to prevent making a bigger mess. Draw circles on the stain using the ice cube and wipe lifted makeup off the cube every so often.
Soap and Water
Soap and water might be the most obvious solution on how to get makeup out of clothes, but this actually won’t give a 100% removal rate. It can, however, tide you over until you get your hands on better options.
Never use hot water or the stain will set on your clothes—the colder the water, the better. Drop a tiny amount of soap on the makeup mess, rub the tainted fabric onto itself, then rinse.
A surprising makeup stain remover you might not have thought of is shaving cream. Before you become skeptical, even KKW Beauty brand-owner Kim Kardashian swears by it. The main purpose of shaving cream is to wet and soften the skin. It can also do the same to makeup stains, even dried-up ones.
Just dribble a bit of water onto the affected area, then add shaving cream. You can then use a soft toothbrush to lift the stain out.
Detergent Wipes and Pens
Detergent wipes and pens are built for tough stains and are safe to use on different types of fabric. Using either a detergent wipe or pen, start at the outer edge of the makeup stain and work in a spiral going into the center.
Run through cold water to see if any residual marks are left and repeat using the wipe or pen as needed.
All-Purpose Spot Remover
The best thing about an all-purpose spot remover is you just trickle a few droplets and then watch the stain disappear—no need to rub or scrub.
Be careful, though, as this concentrated stuff is no joke. Failing to spot-test on similar fabrics might cause your dainty negligee to fade a few shades lighter.
When to Give Up
Now that you know all of the transformative tips on how to get makeup out of clothes, you should also learn when the battle of the blotch is lost. There are just some stains that are way more stubborn than your will to remove them.
If a professional cleaner can’t get it out, it’s time to say goodbye to your shirt, or repurpose it if you’re environmentally conscious.