Today’s project is a simple one that I’ve been meaning to whip up for ages—a good makeup remover. It’s wonderfully easy with just three ingredients, one of which is very flexible and another is optional. It’s also wonderfully effective—I tested it with some seriously stubborn mascara and eyeliner from Benefit, so I can attest that this stuff works. I also designed it to be highly concentrated, making it great for travel. It’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s effective, and you should whip up a batch!

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Ingredient number one: fractionated coconut oil. I chose that ’cause it’s cheap and light, so feel free to choose something else that’s cheap and light if you don’t have FCO. Sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed oil are all good choices.

Ingredient number 2 is what makes this a really lovely, effective cleanser: Olivem 300 (INCI: Olive oil PEG-7 esters). Olivem 300 is a lovely ester made from oleic acid. It’s water soluble, so it means this makeup remover plays well with water. When mixed with water on a damp cotton pad we end up with an effective makeup remover that dissolves your eye makeup and then comes off beautifully without leaving behind any oily residue. You definitely can remove eye makeup with just a couple drops of carrier oil on a damp cotton pad, but it’s not nearly as nice of an experience as it doesn’t work quite as well, and definitely doesn’t wipe off as well.

If you’re looking for an Olivem 300 alternative, Polysorbate 80 is your best alternative, or another water soluble ester (Cromollient SCE or Caprylyl/capryl glucoside should also work, though I haven’t had a chance to work with them myself!). Olivem 1000 is a completely different product—it’s solid! So that’s a no-go here. Please don’t use Turkey red oil, either—that’s castor oil reacted with sulfuric acid! You don’t want that anywhere near your eyes as it can be seriously irritating at high concentrations, and while this isn’t a particularly high concentration, your eyes are pretty sensitive.

Last but not least, a touch of vitamin E to retard rancidity. This isn’t essential as fractionated coconut oil and Olivem 300 are both very shelf stable, and this batch is pretty tiny, so the chances you’d have it sitting around for over a year are pretty low.

And that’s it! Just measure and stir, and you’re done. Resist the temptation to add any fragrance as this is going around the eyes 🙂 Enjoy!

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Gentle Eye Makeup Remover

3g | 0.1oz Olivem 300 (USA / Canada)
12g | 0.42oz fractionated coconut oil (USA / Canada) (or other inexpensive, light oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed)
1 drop Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada) (optional)

Weigh everything into a small beaker and stir to combine. Transfer to a 15mL/half ounce glass bottle with a dropper top. That’s it!

To use, wet a cotton pad with a small amount of water, and scatter ~5 drops of the makeup remover over top. Hold the damp pad to your eye for about 20 seconds to help soak off the makeup before gently wiping it away. For heavy or particularly resilient makeup, you may need to repeat this process with a second pad.

If you want to scale this recipe it’s pretty simple. It’s roughly 20% olivem300, 80% fractionated coconut oil (the touch of vitamin E throws that off a bit—technically you’re shooting for 79.5% FCO, 0.5% vitamin E oil). You can also think of this as 1 gram Olivem 300: 4 grams FCO. Remember that these usage rates go down at the time of use because the product is mixed with water.

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this makeup remover does not contain any water, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Be sure to keep it dry to ensure it lasts as long as possible—don’t let any water get into the bottle and it should easily last a year.