How to: Remove make-up stains

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


While leaving lippie on his collar might be a tell-tale sign of a fun night, removing make-up from your clothes is far less of a good time. Whether you’ve smudged your lipstick, spilled your foundation or dropped your mascara wand, we’re here to help with your make-up mishaps.

Identify the stain
Different stains need to be treated differently. You need to know what you’re dealing with so that you can treat it correctly. See below for the different approaches:

Lipstick is the top offender for nasty make-up stains. We’ve all taken off a top, only to discover that we’ve smeared lippie all over it in the process. Never fear. Lipstick is oil-based, so you want to use an oil-based cleaner to help get rid of the stain. Blot as much as you can off with a tissue first, then apply a grease-fighting liquid detergent (Sunlight soap), isopropyl alcohol or ammonia-based cleaning product (Handy Andy) to the spot, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Rub gently with a cloth, then wash normally as per fabric instructions.

Mascara can be one of the toughest stains to get out, so try to avoid spilling as much as possible. Treat with a pre-wash stain fighter like Vanish, and allow to sit for several minutes. Brush with an old toothbrush or nail brush. Rinse with hot water, then launder immediately per fabric instructions.

Liquid foundation
The sooner you treat a foundation stain, the better. Remove as much of the product as you can by blotting with a paper towel or tissue, and then scrape with a plastic knife or something similar. Treat with a grease-cutting agent, such as liquid detergent or stain fighter. After letting it sit for a few minutes, massage stain with your fingers, before washing it as normal.

Top tips:
Never use ammonia-based cleaning products on silk or wool.
Rather than rubbing the stain in further, rather dab at it from the top.
Don’t tumble dry if the stain isn’t completely removed – the heat can set the stain permanently.
If you’re in a pinch, hairspray can work to remove lipstick stains. Spray the stain, let sit for a few minutes, and then wipe with a clean cloth.
The sooner you treat a stain, the higher your likelihood of success.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Quick beauty fixes
Different types of lip products
Find your perfect new mascara!
How to: Make your foundation last )
How to: Rock different lipstick shades

Written by

Meg de Jong is a writer and editor with a passion for pearls, cupcakes and polkadots. When she's not wrangling words or baking up a storm, she blogs about style, beauty and body positivity for plus size women over at

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Tell your friends

    Lipstick stains are so hard to get off. Sunlight soap does usually helps though.

    2 years ago •

  1. Cookie Nandlall

    It often happens to me. Will try these tips

    2 years ago •

  1. Iman Coovadia

    this article is really helpful!
    i got bronzer on white pants, it came off really easily with a makeup remover wipe

    2 years ago •

  1. lvigeland

    i dont think anything helps for liquid foundation spills…tried everything to no avail :(

    2 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    I’ve got a white cotton dress that has a small foundation stain that just refuses to budge. I’ve tried sunlight liquid, Vanish and some others with no luck.

    2 years ago •

  1. Tidi Phago

    Now I know what to do and this is helpful!

    2 years ago •

  1. Salmaa Moosa

    When foundation has messed on any white top, try lightening the mark and therefore apply baby powder so that you may still wear it till the end of the day.

    2 years ago •

    1. Mark Parr

      Thanks Salmaa, I will keep that in mind.

      2 years ago •

  1. Mark Parr

    I get so annoyed when my foundation powder has messed on my white top.

    2 years ago •

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