How to Get Foundation (and Other Makeup!) out of Clothes

That liquid foundation spill is no match for these quick methods.

Liquid foundation squirting out of its bottle and splattering on a nice blouse; an eyeliner pen slipping between your fingertips and scribbling down your jeans; eyeshadow fallout dusting your collar. If any (or all) of these scenarios sound familiar to you, same. Makeup is messy, and because whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, stains happen at the most inopportune times. The key is to know how to get makeup out of your clothes in a pinch (and have a backup ensemble on standby) so that if you only have five minutes before you're supposed to leave for work, a wedding, brunch — virtually all the things — you don't waste time scrubbing, panic-stricken, to no avail.

Prevent Makeup Stains

If there's anything I've learned after over a decade of wearing makeup, it's to put it on while wearing pajamas or sweats — pieces of my wardrobe I'm either not planning to wear that day, or that I wouldn't mind getting all kinds of powder particles and liquid spatter on. However, that's not everyone's process, nor is it always feasible if you're in a time crunch. Unfortunately, it's during a said time crunch, when you're low on time, high on adrenaline, and rushing through your routine that something spills, slips, and makes its mark on your freshly pressed blouse or pants.

To better prepare you for those unfortunate occasions when stains surface, I reached out to fashion stylist Cindy Conroy and makeup artist Cara Lovello for their best removal tips and tricks.

Person holding up a pink sweater out of the washing machine
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How to Remove Liquid Foundation Stains

Use shaving cream. According to Conroy, liquid foundation, concealer, or highlighter stains are "no match to good ol' fashioned shaving cream." Prep your garment by gently scraping off any access liquid with the back of a spoon, then apply "a healthy dose" of color-free shaving cream to the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, Conroy instructs.

"[Letting it sit] is critical because it needs time to break down the makeup particles," she tells InStyle. "When the timer goes off, rinse the area with cool water. If necessary, repeat. Hand wash your clothing with a laundry bar or pop it into the washing machine. And just like that, it's like it never happened."

No shaving cream? No problem. Lovello tells InStyle you can also scrub the area abrasively with dish soap, adding that "baking soda and hairspray are also said to work."

Person reaching into a dryer
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How to Remove Cream Makeup Stains

Use detergent on cream makeup stains. Conroy says her number one go-to for getting rid of stubborn cream makeup products "sits pretty right next to your kitchen sink" (and no, we're not referring to your fancy vegetable wash from Trader Joe's).

"A liquid detergent cocktail works like a charm for cream blush, highlighter, foundation, and concealer stains," Conroy reveals over email. "Simply fill a bowl with 1 oz of liquid detergent, 1 oz of water, and a few dribbles of nail polish remover," she instructs.

From there, press a white washcloth into the solution and dab the cloth onto the pigmented stain. "Gentle strokes is the name of the game so the makeup doesn't set deep into the clothing fibers," Conroy says. "As you blot the makeup will lift and start to dissolve."

For cream lipsticks — another difficult cream stain — Lovello advises using alcohol and a blotting motion to work it out of the garment.

For colored or delicate fabrics, make sure you do a test spot first to make sure it doesn't ruin your clothing.

How to Remove Powder Makeup Stains

Use a hairdryer on those powder makeup stains. Conroy tells InStyle that the easiest way to correct setting powder or eyeshadow mishaps is to literally blow them.

"On a cool setting direct the nozzle directly on the clothing stain and most of the pigment should flutter off," Conroy says, but if any trace amounts remain, she says, pointedly, "resist the urge to rub it" as the makeup will set into the fabric. "Instead, blot it with a stain remover pen or any other pre-wash stain treatment. Let it work its magic for 5 minutes, then launder as usual."

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