How to Remove Every Type of Beauty Stain Possible

makeup stains How to Remove Every Type of Beauty Stain Possible
Photo: Nik_Merkulov/ iStock/ Getty Images

No matter how careful you are, occasionally accidents happen. No, we’re not talking about a broken or dropped powder (although tragic, indeed). We’re talking about the dreaded makeup stain. Whether it’s foundation around the collar of your favorite white button up, lipstick on your favorite scarf, or hairspray on your LBD, makeup stains are a pain—and can actually ruin your clothes if not treated properly. To ensure your wardrobe does not suffer in the name of beauty, we tapped the Fabric Care Principal Scientists for Tide and Downy, Mary Johnson and Elaine Cella, to get some answers.
First, gently scrape off any excess stain. For particularly waxy makeup stains, place the garment in the freezer for 20 minutes (yes, you read that correctly), then gently scrape off any excess frozen stain, according to Cella and Johnson.
If the garment is machine washable: pretreat the stain with a detergent like Tide Ultra Stain Release ($11, Let set for 20 minutes, then wash the garment with detergent on the warmest setting allowed, per the care instructions. If the stain remains, don’t put the garment into the dryer, as that will set the stain, warn Cella and Johnson. Instead, repeat the washing steps until all traces of the stain are removed.
If the garment is hand wash only, pretreat the stained area with a diluted solution of 1 part detergent and 3 parts water. Let set for 20 minutes. Use 2 sets of paper towels—one damp and one dry—to alternate blotting the stain first with the wet paper towel and then with the dry paper towel until the stain is removed, say Cella and Johnson. Lastly, hand wash the garment following the care instructions on the tag and use the warmest water allowed.

Liquid makeup (such as foundation or concealer)
To remove stray liquid makeup, rinse as much of the stain away as possible and then use the same methods as noted above for lipstick. If you’re in a real bind, a handy detergent pen like Tide to Go Pens ($7, will make the stain less noticeable until you can properly wash the garment. 

Powder makeup (such as foundation or eyeshadow)
For powders, Cella and Johnson recommend carefully shaking as much of the stain off and then flushing the area with water. Follow care label instructions for washing.

Oil-based serums, Waterproof mascara, Self-tanner, and Nail polish
Oil-based products require a detergent that targets greasy stains. Similar as a lipstick stain, our experts suggest first rinsing as much of the stain away, then applying your detergent to the stained area, and letting the garment sit for 10 minutes. Rinse the spot completely and repeat the process until the stain is completely removed. Some makeup products, like nail polish, are very difficult to remove and might be permanent, say Cella and Johnson. But before giving up, try the presoak steps mentioned above!

Lotions, facial oil, and perfume
These are similar to grease stains, as they contain greasy ingredients. According to experts, your best bet is to follow the above care tricks mentioned for lipstick removal, and again, reach for a grease-fighting detergent.

Believe it or not, hairspray is actually easier to remove than other stains. However, because hairsprays often contain alcohol, which can remove dyes from clothes, or other sticky ingredients, which can act like dirt magnets, you should treat the stain as soon as possible, say Cella and Johnson. For specific care, experts suggest following the above care tricks for lipstick removal.
The biggest thing to know about stain removal is that time is of the essence. According to the experts, not treating stains right away is one of the biggest mistakes because a lot of cosmetic products contain dyes that will get set into the fibers if they are not treated ASAP. Another common mistake when it comes to stain removal is putting a garment in the dryer if the stain is not completely removed. Doing so will set in the stain and make it much more difficult to remove, if not impossible, say Cella and Johnson. 
Lastly, read labels! They’re there for a reason. Follow care label instructions to determine if garment is machine washable, hand wash, or dry clean only, advise Cella and Johnson. Particularly with wools and silks, it’s important to follow care instructions because some may not be washable and can shrink or fade if not cared for properly, they add!

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