Makeup stains on clothes are among the inevitable inconvenient effects of wearing makeup, whether you’re into the no-makeup makeup look or the full makeup look. These also happen at inopportune times, whether it’s getting foundation stains on your shirt from hugging your friend or it’s lipstick stain on your blouse when you’re pulling it up. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways how to remove makeup from clothes!
But before we tackle these methods, go through your best makeup organizers, ladies, and get rid of the makeup that leaves stains or gets smudged easily. These items may include melting lipsticks, clumpy mascaras, and lumpy blush-on, even the expensive one-year old foundation that doesn’t apply evenly on your skin.
Let’s also look at the composition (i.e., ingredients) of your makeup since it has a significant effect on removing makeup from clothing. Let’s first look at lipstick, the most common culprit and the item that also leaves the brightest marks on clothes.
Most lipsticks are made from oils, wax and pigment, among other ingredients. Oils, such as lanolin, petrolatum, jojoba, cocoa butter, and castor, add moisture to the lips as well as change the lipstick’s intensity. Basically, the higher the amount of oils, the sheerer the lipstick’s application; the lesser the amount, the richer the pigment.
Pigment obviously gives color to the lipstick, which can range from the sheerest of pinks to the darkest of reds, even midnight black for Goth makeup. Waxes provide the lipstick with both a spreadable texture and shape.
These three basic ingredients are responsible for the stains left on clothes by lipstick. The removal of these stains will then involve breaking down these three ingredients so that these can be lifted off, so to speak, from the fabric.
As for other types of makeup, such as eye shadow, blush-on, and foundation, there are as many as 15 to 50 ingredients in each product. According to industry sources, there are as many as 12,500 unique ingredients (e.g., chemicals) approved for use in the manufacture of makeup, cosmetics and other personal care products! These ingredients can contribute to the stains on clothes upon contact.
Aside from the pigments, oils, and waxes, makeup products can also contain emulsifiers, thickeners, and emollients. Water is, of course, the most common ingredient because it acts a solvent (i.e., dissolves the ingredients to create emulsions with the right consistency). But it isn’t just tap water either – it’s usually purified water or distilled water since these are ultra-pure (i.e., free from toxins, microbes and other pollutants).
The challenge when you remove makeup from clothing is the result of the coloring agents or pigments. These are added to either change or accentuate a person’s natural complexion, as is the case whether it’s a liquid foundation or a tube of lipstick. These come from a wide range of sources, too, including minerals (iron oxide, manganese, and mica flakes), plant dyes and powders, and even animals (e.g., cochineal insects usually listed as carmine on lipsticks).
Keep in mind that the best way to remove makeup stains from clothes is to address the issue as soon as it happens. This way, the oils, pigments and waxes in the makeup will not penetrate too deeply into the fabric. The stains are then easier to remove, whether the method used is blotting with makeup wipes or brushing with a soap-and-water mix.
There are also stain-fighting hacks that can be used in a jiffy. Just remember that not all of these hacks will be effective for all types of makeup stains, especially where the differences in fabric type are concerned.
The best makeup remover wipes can be used to partially or completely remove makeup stains off your clothes! Makeup artists use them in blotting makeup off their fingers so as to avoid smearing it on the models’ clothes – and it’s a trick that you can also use.
Get a makeup wipe, blot or rub the makeup stain, and continue doing so until it’s removed. But be sure to use it only on a fresh spill for best results; otherwise, it can only worsen the stain.
Check that the wipe will not leave water marks on the fabric, too, which will only make the stain more conspicuous. This is true for silk and satin but cotton responds well to the makeup wipe method.
Never wipe off makeup in powder form, such as blush-on, face powder, and eye shadow, with anything unless the stain has set in. Instead, use a blow dryer to remove the bits of powder that have fallen onto your clothes.
Ice - or cold water, if ice isn’t available – is a great way to remove fresh makeup stains, too. Rub an ice cube on the stain vigorously for a few minutes and then wash off with cold water. Be careful about rubbing beyond the boundaries of the stain so as to avoid spreading it further.
Note: never use hot water as a spot treatment for makeup stains because it can worsen the issue.
Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and squeeze out most of the excess liquid. Rub the soaked cotton ball over the stain until it’s removed. This is arguably the most effective method for removing lipstick stains since the alcohol breaks down the oil and wax ingredients.
Squirt a small amount of shaving cream on the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes. Place the stain with its shaving cream layer under cold tap water to wash away both from your clothes.
There’s a reason hairsprays are here to stay! Aside from their hair-related uses, these can be used in getting rid of lipstick stains on the spot. Spray a good amount of hairspray on the stain, leave it to dry for a few minutes, and remove the stain with a makeup remover wipe. But only use an alcohol-based hairspray since, again, the alcohol breaks down the oils and waxes in lipstick.
But don’t wash like you would with non-stained clothes. Instead, dab cold water or ice on the stain, followed by a tiny amount of soap on the spot. Gently rub the fabric against itself so that the resulting friction can lift the stain.
Note: This can be a better method than using paper products, such as makeup wipes, in certain cases. Paper products can flake off resulting in small white bits left behind on the fabric, not to mention that these can make the stain spread.
These are designed to provide a quick fix for stains and smears on clothes. For detergent pens, blot off the excess gunk from the makeup on the fabric. Apply the tip of the pen to the stain, rub it in until the stain starts to come off, and wipe off the excess detergent. Repeat, if necessary, especially for thicker stains.
For detergent wipes, use them like you would makeup remover wipes. These can be more effective than makeup wipes, too, because of their detergent component.
If you are an avid makeup user, you will likely have two or more of these stain-fighting products in your bag or makeup organizer. If you seem like a magnet for makeup stains, you may want to buy detergent wipes and pens because these will definitely come in handy.
Foundation is a must in great makeup because of its multiple purposes. It covers up skin imperfections, provides an even skin complexion, and serves as the neutral background for the colors of the lipstick, eye shadow and blush-on. Indeed, it’s considered as an instant pick-me-up for makeup fans with skin issues!
But when it ends up on your clothes, it isn’t as attractive as it is on your face. No wonder we often encounter questions about how to remove makeup foundation from clothes, and we will answer it here.
First, remove the foundation stain as soon as possible. This is especially true for liquid foundation since it’s an oil-based product and, thus, it will quickly be absorbed by fabrics.
Second, determine whether the foundation is in liquid or powder form. Each type of foundation has its specific steps in stain removal, and applying one designed for the other can spread the stain on the fabric.
To get liquid foundation out of clothes, follow these steps:
If the stain comes from powder foundation, these steps apply:
Makeup remover wipes are great for removing foundation from clothes, whether it’s the liquid or powder kind. But these are only effective for fresh stains, not on the stains that have seeped through the fabric for hours, much less for days.
Foundation isn’t the only cover-up makeup that can stain clothes. You may also observe stains from tanning treatments, such as lotions and sprays on your clothes especially after an appointment. In this case, the stains will require more time and effort – soak the stained clothes in a mix of water and oxygenated bleach (e.g., OxiClean) for a few hours before laundering.
Getting foundation stains off colored clothes can be made more difficult because of the contrast between the off-white color of the foundation and the dark background of the clothes. But with these steps, it should be an easier task for as long as you don’t overdo the use of hydrogen peroxide and/or oxygenated bleach.
No discussion on how to get rid of makeup stains will be complete without mentioning mascara and blush-on stains. These can be the devil to remove due to the pigments used. But if you address them as soon as these happen, you can quickly remove them with little effort and basic supplies.
For fresh blush stains:
Mascara stains are among the most difficult to remove from clothes because of their oils and dark pigments. These ingredients may make your lashes look luscious but these also make mascara more difficult to remove from your lashes and clothes.
Fortunately, there’s no need to throw away your mascara stained clothes or stop wearing mascara to avoid stains. For fresh mascara stains, you can use eye makeup removers to dab at the stain and remove them in seconds. A clean cloth dipped in cold water will also do the trick.
But if the stain has set into the fabric, it’s best to use a powerful stain-removing detergent. Let the garment soak in the detergent with tap water for about 5 to minutes, wash by hand, and rinse before letting it dry flat. Again, don’t put it into the dryer since the heat can further work in the stain into the fabric.
The best detergent to get lipstick stains out of clothes is an oil-based cleaner because most lipsticks contain oils (i.e., oil-based). There are two ways to achieve good results.
Pour a few drops of liquid soap (e.g., Dawn) into the stain. Blot it using a clean paper towel or tissue until the excess color has been removed. Using a spray bottle, spritz the stain with cold water but avoid soaking the fabric.
Gently rub a drop of liquid soap on the stain. Leave it be for 10 to 15 minutes.
Using a clean terry cloth towel, rub the liquid soap into the stain with circular motions. Start from the outer edges and work your way towards the middle. Dab the fabric with a clean terry cloth towel until the stain has been removed.
Use rubbing alcohol
Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and dab it directly on the stain. Be patient as it may take some time for the alcohol to break down the oils in lipstick but it’s effective for fresh stains.
The abovementioned methods will work just as well to get makeup out of a white shirt. But you may have to act faster since the longer the stains are in the fabric, the harder it will be to remove them. Depending on the age of the stains, so to speak, there may be pre-soaking involved.
We suggest buying a powerful stain-fighting detergent for this purpose. While following the instructions on the detergent applies, the following tips can prove useful.
The process of removing makeup stains can either be easy-peasy or not-so-easy depending on the type of stain and its age (i.e., number of minutes or hours it has been on the fabric). But it’s a chore that every person who loves wearing makeup or who comes into direct contact with people who wear it – we’re looking at you, ladies’ man – needs to deal with. Just follow the below mentioned steps and there’s no reason to dislike makeup and put up with stains on your clothes.