Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

Of Coconut Oil’s many bathroom uses, removing tough makeup came out of left field for me. It is safe and exceedingly effective, even against the most stubborn of all makeup: waterproof mascara. How did I not know this earlier?

Safe and effective are the key words here. While conventional makeup removers can remove makeup effectively, most totally flop when it comes to ingredient safety. The preservatives are often the trouble. One pricey remover contains two hormone disrupting paraben preservatives: propylparaben and butylparaben. These preservatives receive the very high hazard rating of “7” (worst is 10) from the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Cosmetics Safety Database. Another remover towelette, on the opposite end of the price spectrum, contains the nasty preservative 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, which is rated a staggering “7-9” by EWG because it slowly releases the known carcinogen formaldehyde.

And this is for my eyes?!

Why not use soap?

Simply put, you can’t get soap in your eyes. Or you can, but you’ll wish you hadn’t. Chances are, if you’re removing waterproof mascara or a tightline eyeliner with soap, something is going to get in your eyes.

Why does oil work?

I’ve got a lovely Greek word for you here: lipophilic. LIP-o-FIL-ik. Literally it means “oil loving”. Oils are lipophilic, which means that they like each other. A lot. They have no problems intermingling, rubbing shoulders, getting up close and personal. Chemically speaking, the idea here is “like dissolves like.” Water dissolves water-based substances. Oil dissolves the oil-based.

Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal
Dr. Bronner’s Customer Service Rep, Myrna Olea (All of Myrna’s pictures taken by Rogelio Olea.)

A lot of makeup, especially the colored stuff, is oil or wax based. While water rolls right off, coconut oil gets deep in there and loosens it, lifting it from our skin.

Only Coconut Oil?

Any oil will do this, although I very much encourage sticking with plant based oils, and steering clear of mineral oil in particular, which derives from petroleum. Olive, hemp seed, and jojoba are all excellent oils that will work here. I happen to love the smell of coconut oil. And I know this brand that produces an excellent organic, Fair Trade, coconut oil… (Psssst! It’s Dr. Bronner’s)


  • Take a small amount of coconut oil on your finger. A half pea-sized amount of solid oil or a fingertip coating of liquid.
  • Gently but thoroughly massage this into your make-up.
  • Work it into your eyelashes and along your liner line.
  • Use cotton swabs or soft tissues to wipe this off.
  • Wash your face. The Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap works great for this.

Two of our lovely Dr. Bronner’s staff agreed to remove their makeup for me using coconut oil alone. Here is Myrna Olea, our Customer Service Rep.
Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

I don’t even begin to know how to apply makeup like this.  Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

Half off!

Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

All clean!

Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

This result is from coconut oil alone. It truly is a miracle worker in removing all makeup.


Here’s a testimonial from Jessica Winer, our Marketing Project Manager.

If only we could get her to loosen up!

“What I like best about using coconut oil to take my makeup off is that it’s so gentle on the eyes. After I got most of the makeup off I started using my fingers instead of the cotton pads to rub the excess off. It felt like a facial. 

Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

“Coconut oil was a life saver in terms of skin care for me. I had pretty bad acne when I was in high school. I even tried Accutane but didn’t like it so I gave up. I tried every acne face wash on the market. Neutrogena, Proactiv… That was before I realized what kind of chemicals and ingredients were in that junk. I saw a dermatologist who showed me how my makeup was still left in my pores even after washing because of the type of makeup I used. That led me down a path of choosing better products. Finally I read an article about using coconut oil and jojoba oil to cleanse and moisturize. I figured what the hell, it wouldn’t cost much. Couldn’t hurt to try. Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

“It changed everything. I rarely break out now. My skin is SO much healthier. I even felt confident enough to wear less makeup which helped even more. It sounds cliché but coconut oil changed my life. You can’t put a price on confidence.”Coconut Oil for Makeup Removal

Absolutely beautiful!

Further reading

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Coconut Oil Cheat Sheet

Incorporate coconut oil into your kitchen & personal care routines!


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10 Eco-Friendly Products for a Greener Lifestyle - InspirDaily says:

[…] ©Lisabronner […]

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Gwen – Whole kernel oil is made from the whole coconut kernel, with the brown parings (i.e. the soft inner skin) left on. White kernel oil is produced from the kernel after removal of the parings and has a milder aroma. The whole kernel oil is more nutritious as it contains higher levels of certain micronutrients, and if you’re cooking with it, you’ll find it to have a slightly nuttier taste. For makeup removal, they both work equally well.


So do you recommend removing all your makeup with coconut oil or will Castile soap work just as good?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lizette – I use coconut oil just for the stubborn eye makeup like eyeliner and mascara. Castile soap does a great job of removing all other makeup.

Eran says:

Can the Bronner Castile soap remove also Halloween makeup?
Do I apply it directly on the face or via cotton pad and/or washcloth?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Eran- By now you’ve got your Halloween makeup off, but for future reference you would need quite a bit of soap for heavy Halloween-type. It can be applied to wet skin with hands, a cotton pad or washcloth, then rinsed off. Avoid applying to eyes though, as soap can sting.

Regina says:

Dear Lisa,
I have Rosacea that I have left untreated for the last 25 years, due to the use of chemicals that I did not want to use on my face. I am now using Soolantra 1 percent cream because I have nodules on my nose from it ? Do you have any reccomendstions on how to make a healthy face wash for a 61 year old? I already use olive oil and coconut oil for make up removal and moisturizer. Thank you for your help.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Regina – I have had mild rosacea flare ups as well. You probably know that there are a lot of things that can trigger rosacea. Because it is partially an inflammatory reaction, the Tea Tree Castile is the best option. Tea Tree essential oil has natural anti-inflammatory properties. While this will not prevent flare-ups, it can definitely help soothe them. Wash your face gently twice daily with a couple drops of the Tea Tree castile. Work it into a lather in your wet hands, massage on, and rinse with warm water.

Laura says:

I am now 47 (ugh!) and still have blackheads. I started using coconut oil as a facial moisturizer after showering sometime last year, at least by mid-summer. I just recently started using your Unscented Organic Sugar Soap because I thought the pure castile soaps were a bit drying this winter. Well! In the shower I get rinsed, apply coconut and let it sit a little then wash my face with the Sugar Soap (my chapped lips are sensitive if I don’t use the oil first as I let the soap sit while I wash the rest of my body). I do have to say that I gave up with makeup two years ago and wear rarely but have always taken it off before bed but still…these are the best results I’ve ever had! If I use the Sugar Soap for shampoo, I do use your rinse afterwards too which is a must for me. Otherwise I have shampoo made locally to me. It’s nice simplifying in the bath and it also is making cleaning the tub easier too as your products don’t leave the residue like the other [stuff]. When I do clean, I use your Sal Suds. Thank you!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Laura – Thank you for taking the time to share your success story! I’m glad Dr. Bronner’s helped!

Laura says:

Thank you for your products and if I don’t buy it at a local co-op, I buy it from you direct…you make it so easy! Happy New Year!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sarah – Yes, the coconut oil would be able to remove that as well.

Sophia says:

Hi! Can the original castor oil be used as makeup remover?
If so, should it be diluted?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sophia – I am not familiar with the uses of Castor Oil, although I know there are many. My guess is that it most likely would work. I don’t know what impact castor oil has on the face though.

Sandi says:

Love this! I am detoxifying my life and this will be a huge help with my daughter when it comes to dance competition makeup! She’s currently using a product with a terrible ingredient list. 🙁

Norma J. Pickens says:

Interesting article! I like your coconut oil product. Thanks for sharing this make-up tips! 🙂

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Van – Thanks for engaging so much here! I have studied that exact same ratings sheet, as well. It definitely has some food for thought, and is widely cited across the internet in discussions about the comedogenicity of various oils. What gives me pause is that it ranks coconut oil (from the meat or kernel) as a 4, but coconut oil from the drupe at 0. I’m not really sure what this means because “drupe” is merely the botanical classification for what we call a whole coconut. This classification also applies to peaches, plums, cherries, and others. The only part of the coconut drupe that yields oil is the meat or kernel. Hmmm.

Just to throw some more thought into the mix, here are some peer-reviewed studies that look at the benefits of coconut oil on certain types of acne and other atopic dermatitis:

Suzy says:

Thanks for these helpful tips! And those gals are naturally gorgeous! They are both so stunning without makeup! 🙂 Your products are amazing!

Tessa says:

Does it matter if the coconut oil is refined or unrefined?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Tessa – For makeup removal, unrefined will work just as well as refined. It doesn’t smell the same but functionally there is no difference in the fatty acid chain, which is the part of the coconut oil molecule that is working here.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

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Coconut Oil Cheat Sheet

Incorporate coconut oil into your kitchen & personal care routines!