How To Get The Most Stubborn Beauty Stains Out Of Your Clothes - From Lipstick To Self-Tanner

Makeup looks phenomenal on your face and body when applied right, but you know where it doesn't look good on? Your clothes. But the fact of the matter is sometimes, your cosmetics take a life of their own, tumbling out of your hand when you least expect them to or falling off your dresser to spill straight onto the new skirt you just bought. Other times, cosmetic stains can also be unintentional, like when the foundation on your chin catches your collar or when lipstick smears the inside of your shirt just as you slip out of it. Makeup getting in contact with your clothes is inevitable, unfortunately, so it's important to know how to treat these stains — for example, knowing that shaving cream is useful in removing foundation stains and dish soap can help with lipstick.


Before everything else, it's crucial to point out that preventing makeup stains is much easier than tackling them, so make it a point to avoid a mess if you can help it. You may want to wear a ratty old shirt you don't mind having liquid eyeliner smears on, or perhaps a loose tank top that you can easily remove once you've put on your face. But in the event of accidental staining, here's a guide on removing all sorts of cosmetic gunk from your clothes so you can continue getting the most mileage out of every piece in your wardrobe.

Try using dish soap to remove lipstick stains

Lipstick is perhaps the most notorious when it comes to makeup stains because its formula tends to transfer easily. While your first instinct is to handwash your lipstick-stained top with your trusty laundry detergent, dish soap may be more effective, at least according to makeup artists. And can you really argue with a professional?


"My best tip is really so simple but so effective. Use diluted dishwashing liquid," Troi Ollivierre, co-creator of LoveSeen lashes and founder of Troi Ollivierre Beauty, shared with Byrdie. "Let it sit for a few minutes and use a toothbrush or nail brush to scrub out. Repeat as necessary. It never fails."

It may be odd to clean your clothes with the same product you use for your plates and utensils, but remember that lipstick often contains oil and wax, and dish soap is specially formulated to kick those to the curb. Just make sure to dilute the solution before letting it touch your clothes so as not to create discoloration or incur further damage.

When removing mascara stains, pre-treatment is the key

Unless you're using clear mascara, mascara stains are harder to remove since they're generally darker and more stubborn, especially the waterproof ones. The last thing you want is to spread the stain across the rest of the fabric, so the best course of action before laundering is to perform spot treatment using stain removers. "Prewash stain removers are concentrated and designed to go directly on the stains," Rico de Paz, a chemist, explained to Consumer Report.


If you're only dealing with a smudge, though, your ever-reliable makeup removal wipes and a paper towel may do the trick, with the paper towel's main function being the residue absorber. Place a clean paper towel on a flat surface, and then put the stained clothing on top, with the stain directly facing the towel. You then transfer the mascara stain onto the paper towel by way of pushing (no aggressive scrubbing, please) from the untainted side of the fabric, and continue until nothing is left. But in case there are any leftover marks, pre-treating ought to handle the rest.

Shaving creams can help with removing foundation stains

Now when it comes to foundation stains, makeup extraordinaire Kim Kardashian once offered a hack on how to banish them. Writing on her app (remember that?) back in 2017, she shared (via InStyle): "To get rid of makeup stains, shaving cream often does the trick. Just apply to the stain and then lightly wet or wash. If the stain still won't come out, you can also use a drop of rubbing alcohol mixed with the shaving cream. The stain should lift out easily."


Don't trust Kardashian's advice? Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority, confirmed with Apartment Therapy that shaving creams are indeed capable of eliminating foundation stains from clothes considering how they're developed to remove oil. But she advised letting the cream marinate on the fabric for around 10 minutes before rinsing it out with cold water or throwing it straight into the washer. Oh, and it may also be worth mentioning that this hack usually works like a charm with any oil-based product, so you may want to try it out in case makeup like cream lippies or liquid eyeshadows contaminate your outfits.

For self-tanner stains, use bleach

Trying to remove the remnants of your self-tan is already a pain when it comes to your skin, so just imagine how much of a challenge it is to yank out of your clothes. But fear not, it may be a Herculean feat, but it's not totally impossible. You would only have a tough time if you procrastinate on the removal process. "Like any other stain, you don't want to let it sit for too long," Theresa and Corinna Williams, co-founders of Celsious Laundry Mat, advised InStyle. "The longer you wait, the lower your chances are of actually lifting it."


Usually, blotting a solution made out of water and laundry detergent and then doing the normal wash and dry will work. But if the stain proves to be extra stubborn, and the item of clothing is white, it may be time to whip out bleach — oxygenated bleach to be exact, as it's gentler on fabrics compared to run-of-the-mill bleach, which is usually made out of chlorine. Then, as advised by Cleanipedia, concoct a solution composed of oxygen-based bleach and cold water, and then let the affected clothing sit in it for eight hours. If you want to avoid self-tan stains altogether, though, you may want to opt for a clear tan instead. That way, you can avoid the hassle of dealing with mess.

Acetone is your best friend in removing nail polish stains

And the final boss of all: nail polish, which is a different beast altogether. To remove it from your precious garments, you'll need a whole arsenal of materials, which include nail polish remover, acetone, an old plastic card (a disposable knife could also work), and then a bottle of hairspray and rubbing alcohol on standby.


Before reaching for the cleaning solutions, Patric Richardson of The Laundry Evangelist told Martha Stewart that it's important to scrape off the excess polish first. This is where the plastic card or knife will come in handy. "Do not scrub the wet polish—you will push it deeper into the fabric, making it harder to remove," he noted. "Use something dull, like a business card or even a folded piece of paper, to gently lift as much as possible off of the fabric—you will see that a majority of the polish will come off." You then proceed with dabbing nail polish remover on the affected area and if it doesn't budge, try hairspray or rubbing alcohol. Soap and water sometimes work, too.

If none of these options work, that's when you attempt to remove the stain with acetone. But considering how it's potent, make sure that the garment doesn't have acetate fabric, or else you risk ruining it. Another option is to have your clothes dry-cleaned. This way, you can rest assured that a professional will be able to do the cleaning job well.