NOTE: Do you ever write something and wish you hadn't? I no longer experience the complex emotions I describe below, and truthfully, I now find that passage embarrassing. I would delete it, but these paragraphs have resonated with many of you. In fact, based on emails received, these are the most popular paragraphs I have ever written. I haven't forgotten the pain and confusion of my early transitional days. I know firsthand that it can be very hard. Since these paragraphs seem to be helping people, I am leaving them in. Please feel free to skip them and move on to the practical part, which is extensively revised, and I like to think a pretty good guide to removing makeup.
Dealing with Your Emotions
When you are done with your session with Dom de Luxury, or your evening event, or your fetish ball, you need to change back. It's not just about removing makeup and taking off your dress. There are going to be some emotions involved in this that might surprise you. Especially in the beginning, when you are confused and unsure, changing back can be painful.
After a session, Dom de Luxury encouraged me to sleep without changing and wake up as a woman. As a practical matter, this is a bad idea. It's bad for your skin and hard on your breast forms. But it's not about that. Like all her guidance, it's about your heart and your mind. I recommend you do it at least a few times. You do not wake up to your normal orientation. You wake up in a new body and with a new point of view. You are reminded of your session from the day before and of your new and changing self.
When I awoke, I would run to the mirror. I try to see the man in that strange and beautiful woman looking back at me. I can't find him and do not want her to leave. When you reach the point where you are happy with how you look, it becomes painful to wash off the makeup and take off the clothes. I would delay as long as I could before I finally forced myself to return to my ordinary male existence. Once I changed back, sadness and longing overwhelmed me.
But that sadness and longing were telling me who I really was. Now I am more often a woman, 24x7. Before this, waking up as a woman not only let me know who I really was, it reminded me of the bond I have with my Dom. The emotions will stop being painful and become more positive and much more intense. This comes when you figure out who you are and where you belong.
Of course, you still need to take off your makeup. Let's get to it!
The Practical Part
Let me begin with a correction: The first version of this article recommended Ponds Cold Cream and makeup wipes. I have come to view makeup wipes with fear and loathing. I have tried endless brands, and none of them work. They are not very good at removing makeup, and they leave my skin red and raw from rubbing. They are also ridiculously expensive. In short: I do not recommend makeup wipes.
The problem is that makeup is basically oil, and oil and water do not mix. If you take a glass of water and pour a little oil into it, you will see the oil and water separate themselves into distinct, unmixed layers. You can stir it, and it may appear to create a mixture. But when the agitation of the water subsides, oil and water will once again sort themselves out into separate layers. This happens because water is a polar molecule, and oil is a non-polar molecule, and these two groups do not mix. Water alone is obviously not going to be an effective makeup remover.
The Oil Solution
A fundamental principle in chemistry is "like dissolves like." Since makeup is oily, oil will remove makeup, and some people recommend just using oil. Mineral oil and olive oil are often recommended, but any oil will work. In my opinion, mineral oil is just icky, and using olive oil is a waste of good cooking oil. And the problem with using any oil is that now you have oil on your face! Water still won't remove that! The oil-using crowd actually likes this. They feel the oil moisturizes their face. I'm not judging. If it works for you, that's fantastic. I think it feels greasy. I also worry that it will clog my pores and give me pimples, so I prefer other methods.
Surfactants are fancy molecules that have a polar end and a non-polar end. They look a little like a sperm:
The polar end loves water, and the non-polar end hates it, so they can bind to both oil and water at the same time! That's a handy property for cleaning off your makeup! Any truly effective makeup cleanser is going to have surfactants as a primary ingredient. So it really comes down to: which surfactants? Surfactants can be harsh, so you want gentle ones.
Cold cream has been the traditional method for removing makeup for at least 100-years. I used Pond's cold cream, which has a long history in beauty and theatrical makeup. It contains lots of oil and a small amount of surfactant. In cold cream, the surfactants are really there just to hold the cream together, not so much for cleansing. The oil does all the work. Cold creams are intended to be washed off, and in my experience, they do not remove all of the makeup, which means you need other products. This takes too many steps and involves too many harsh products, so I no longer recommend this procedure. But it does work, and, unlike most makeup removers, it is very inexpensive.
France has very hard water, and hard water is terrible for your skin. Micellar water was invented by Bioderma to address this problem. They wanted to create a makeup remover that would remove makeup but be so gentle you didn't need to wash it off. Micellar water contains the highest quality water (it is so pure it can be injected) and extremely gentle surfactants. Depending on the version of Micellar water, it may contain other ingredients. It has become one of the most popular makeup products globally and is my current method of choice.
There are different varieties of Micellar water available and from many different manufacturers. I haven't tried them all, and so I don't have a specific recommendation. Most are very inexpensive. Some target specific skin types, so if you have oily or dry skin, factor that into your decision. I find the hydrating products work best for me, but choose the one that fits you.
You need to use Micellar water with cotton pads. This is important! Cotton is polar, so the surfactants' heads attach themselves to it, leaving their oil-loving tails waving in the sky, ready to hook onto the makeup on your face! (That's how I think of it.) It is much less effective to apply it with your hands. Simply wet the pad with the Micellar water and wipe off the makeup. Some cotton pads can be pretty rough. Avoid those.
TIP: Even if you do not use Micellar water to remove your makeup, it is fantastic for repairing mistakes. This is probably one of the biggest reasons it is so popular with pro-Makeup artists. Just wet the tip of a cotton swab with Micellar water and fix your mistake. You can re-apply makeup right over the area you just cleaned. No additional treatment needed!
Problems with Micellar Water
While the surfactants in Micellar water are very mild, some people have bad reactions to them. If you are one of these people, you should clean your skin off immediately afterward or try another cleanser type.
What's a Micelle?"Some of you are probably wondering what a micelle is. When you add enough surfactants to water, the hydrophobic tails get attracted to each other. This causes the surfactants to form into little balls. The water-loving heads end up on the outside of the balls, and the water-hating tails on the inside. These little balls are called "micelles."
There are oil-based cleansers that are easier to wash off than cold creams or pure oils. I have no experience with these, but many people use them. If Miracellar water doesn't work for you, these might. Some popular products are Neutrogena Body Oil, Neutrogena Makeup Remover Balm, and DHC Deep Cleansing oil. There are many others. I've never used any of them. My understanding is that they also require an extra cleanser step.
Now that you are done, you might need to moisturize your face. For more information about skincare, check out my Skincare Series! Now go about your life. Remember that no matter how you might feel about things, you are changing all the time. That's a good thing. Let me know how it is going for you. And if you have a question or a nice comment, please message me on Twitter