Bargain vs Blowout: Eye Makeup Removers

How do a high street and high end eye makeup remover match up?

In the ring: Lancôme Bi-Facil Non Oily Instant Eye Makeup Remover vs Simply Dual Effect Eye Makeup Remover.

The vital stats:

Lancôme Bi-Facil Non Oily Instant Eye Makeup[1], £21.50

Press release promise: “With a formula that’s suitable for even sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, Bi-Facil gently removes makeup including waterproof mascara.”

Simple Dual Effect Eye Makeup Remover[2], £3.99

Press release promise: “Removes even stubborn, waterproof make-up without unnecessary rubbing and leaves behind soft, clean nourished skin and perfectly conditioned lashes.”

The battle: According to a survey of 2000 women by One Poll and Simple in April last year, a quarter of us sleep in our makeup three or more nights a week. Makeup Maniac[3] I may be but this came as quite a shocker to me. We’ve all done it, but THREE NIGHTS A WEEK? I’m staging an intervention here by introducing (or renewing your interest in) two elite cleansers that perform quickly and gently, leaving you with absolutely zero, nada, nil excuse to not hit the bottle at the end of the day. One is a time honoured cleansing classic, the other a freshly formulated newby. They’ve both earned their right to be here, in spades, but which wipes the board in terms of efficacy and affordability? Let the fight commence.

First round: I’m putting both of these through their paces at the weekend, so that they’re challenged with full on party eye, waterproof mascara and a good dollop of Touche Éclat (all of the early hours Olympics viewing has been taking its toll).

First up is Simple, with a one part oil and one part vitamin enriched water formula to whisk away makeup with minimal tugging. For an oil based cleanser, it feels oddly dry on the eye, but for those put off by the potentially slimy residue of an oily makeup remover, this is likely a major plus. Given the dry texture, I did have to go over each lid a couple of times, but it dissolved highly pigmented shadow and liner in seconds, and mascara wiggled off comfortably with a little bit of persuasion. The fragrance free formula goes seriously easy on lashes and the eye area; I removed a very dramatic glitter spackled look with minimal redness, no irritation and a distinct lack of puffiness, which is refreshing when compared to the original Kind To Eyes eye makeup remover (very ‘rubby’ in my experience). This turbocharged yet delicate oil and water shaker is in another league.

Also subjected to the smokey eye test was Lancôme Bi-Facil, an eye makeup remover that I have a nostalgic attachment to after numerous duty-free sweeps and a strong familial loyalty amongst the female members of our clan. I’ve been dismissing the sootiest of kohl with this bi-phase blue potion since the late 90s, and it’s still going strong (obviously additional supplies have been required). Formulated with water and silicone, it feels more ‘moist’ than Simple’s offering, and I used less liquid to remove makeup, which is just as well given the price tag. It melts away makeup, including mascara, in mere moments, but I’d contest the ‘non-oily’ claim- it does leave the eye area feeling a little greasy, but then I don’t mind this, and felt that my lashes were all the silkier for it. Another factor to consider for very sensitive eyes is that Bi-Facil contains perfume, so while it’s marketed at contact lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes, there’s still the lurking potential of irritation. Having said that I’m on the sensitive spectrum myself, and have never experienced even the mildest itching or redness, but it’s definitely something to consider before investing.

Second round: The morning after the night before panda eyes test. Simple’s Dual-Effect left a tiny microscopic smudge of residue, while Lancôme was a clean canvas. There was very little in it.

The winner: I’m on the fence here, as it depends on your criteria for an eye makeup cleanser. If you’re averse to oil based varieties, Lancôme is a safe buy, although your partner/ bank manager may not view it that way (that’s where duty-free comes in). I’m veering towards Simple as I love the instant dissolving magic of an oil, appreciate a belts and braces approach to sensitivity and can afford to douse myself in it given the low price point. I still won’t abandon my affinity for Bi-Facil, however, as it’s been there through and through, and in my view was a pioneer of flash makeup removal far before fast-working competitors came along. The competition is pretty hot though…

Why cleansing is the non-negotiable, essential step to good skin[4] according to our in-house skincare expert Judy Johnson…

Follow me on Instagram @annyhunter[5]

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