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Image: Shutterstock/Dasha Muller

This is a question for the ages. Seriously, how do you remove eye makeup without losing lashes? The answer: very gently and with the right products. Whether you have natural lashes or lash extensions, be extra careful when removing makeup. We’ve got all the product recommendations, pls our favorite tried-and-true tips for leaving natural lashes in-tact when remove eye makeup.

First things first. You always, always want to remove all makeup before going to bed. In addition to ruining your sheets, leaving on face makeup causes clogged pores and dull skin, but leaving on eye makeup can lead to unsightly eye infections. Start by removing your eye makeup first, then remove your face makeup, as you can use your cleanser to remove any leftover eye makeup. Soak a cotton pad, like the Shiseido Facial Cotton, with eye makeup remover, then hold over the eye for up to ten seconds. This gives makeup a chance to dissolve. Gently pat over the eye to remove makeup. Do not rub as that can cause lashes to fall out and it tugs on sensitive skin. Our favorite removers include the Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover and the Elizabeth Arden All Gone Eye and Lip Makeup Remover and we’re featuring a DIY recipe at the end. However, if you have lash extensions, you’ll want to use something oil-free, as oil can degrade the lash glue. Try the NARS Gentle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover for great results. If needed, follow-up with a small amount of facial cleanser to remove any last traces of eye makeup.

If you wear strip lashes, the same steps apply as above, though you may need to hold the saturated cotton pad on your eye for longer or repeat that step. If your lashes are still not easily removed, soak a cotton swab in the eye makeup remover and gently run it along the strip. Never, ever pull off the strip, as you can end up pulling out your own lashes. Gently peel it back. It should remove fairly easily after using eye makeup remover. There are some great lash glues on the market, such as the Duo line. There are plenty of options for glue in this line, including colors and various applicators. All hold strip lashes well but dissolve quickly.

Like many of us, you are probably wondering how to strengthen and grow your lashes. There are plenty of options for lash growth serums, though the most effective ones are slightly expensive and if you stop using them, the results disappear. However, there is a more common item you can use to help lashes (and brows!) grow: castor oil. As we mentioned in our article on this renaissance oil, the fatty acids can really help lashes grow longer and stronger. Use a pointed cotton swab to apply to the base of lashes and lightly massage in before bed. You can even use castor oil to remove eye makeup, giving your lashes an extra boost of growing power.

As promised, here’s the DIY eye makeup remover recipe. This is a great way to save money, as you likely already have these ingredients at home. And while you can use just about any oil to remove eye makeup (coconut, castor, even olive oil), this quick mix is just a bit more powerful. The coconut oil dissolves eye makeup, witch hazel helps protect skin, and the jojoba oil soothes tired eyes.

4 Tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons witch hazel

2-3 drops jojoba oil

Mix well and store in an airtight Mason jar.