There’s really only one rule when it comes to make-up, and that’s that you have to take it off before you go to bed.

Yes, even when you’re shattered and/or inebriated and you really can’t be bothered. We’ve been testing removers that make quick work of even waterproof eye make-up, so the job can be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

There are a few different formulas here, from creams to pens, but most are the classic thin liquid that you sweep over skin on a cotton pad (more on those later).

While testing we looked for products that removed make-up, particularly mascara and long-wear liquid eyeliner, without requiring lots of pressure and rubbing on the sensitive eye area; we also discounted any that caused stinging and irritation.

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Lancome bi-facil make-up remover: £23, Look Fantastic

Lancome’s clever remover is a cult product. It combines, as the name suggests, two textures, water and oil, to dissolve and whisk away waterproof mascara, without leaving behind residue, irritating eyes or stripping moisture. Remember to give the bottle a shake first to combine the water and oil, which separate when settled.

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Clinique take the day off make-up remover: £19, John Lewis & Partners

It’s no surprise that we like the eye make-up remover from Clinique’s “take the day off” range, given how devoted we are to the cleansing balm and cleansing milk from the same line. It’s efficient, gentle enough for sensitive skin and leaves just enough oil behind to feel hydrating but no greasy film of product on the skin.

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Nivea double effect eye make-up remover: £3.59, Superdrug

A good dupe of Lancome’s iconic but pricey remover, Nivea’s double effect uses oil to remove even waterproof mascara but combines it with water to wash away residue and keep things kind and easy on your eyes. Don’t forget to shake the bottle before using to get the best of both worlds.

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La Roche-Posay toleriane dermo-cleanser: £12.50, La Roche-Posay

For an alternative formula to the usual watery removers, La Roche-Posay’s is a thin milk that feels gentle and nourishing. Apply it with a cotton pad, as you would with any other remover. We didn’t find it quite as efficient on waterproof make-up as others we tested, but it is perfect for dry and sensitive skin types. Dermo-cleanser is technically designed to be used on your whole face, not just your eyes, but we’d still recommend you double cleanse with an oil and cream wash instead to remove foundation.

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ESPA bio-active eye cleanser: £21, John Lewis & Partners

Most eye make-up removers are all business, but Espa’s feels like a little bit of skincare as well as being an efficient hard-worker. It requires hardly any pressure to remove mascara, and it also contains moisturising hyaluronic acid and conditioning rose water, so your eye area and lashes get a treat, too.

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Elf make-up remover pen: £4.50, Elf Cosmetics

If your make-up skills are sometimes a little… outside the lines, Elf’s genius pen is perfect for removing product from small areas. We use ours to clean up our liquid eyeliner flicks, correct when we’ve been a little overzealous with overlining lipstick, and to save the day when a sneeze has left mascara under our eyes.

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Garnier express 2in1 eye make-up remover: £2.33, Boots

Garnier’s 2in1 is another remover that employs the powerful combination of oil and water, but this one is our pick for sensitive eyes. Our contact lens-wearing tester, who finds most products sting unbearably, loves this for its gentle but effective results.

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Bobbi Brown instant long-wear make-up remover: £19.50, Bobbi Brown

For make-up that is designed to stay put all day and then some, only the strong stuff will do. Bobbi Brown’s remover whisks away stubborn waterproof make-up, including hard-dried liquid liner, with no heavy rubbing or lashes lost. It also leaves skin super soft.

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MakeUp Eraser: £16.99, Feel Unique

OK, we’ll admit that we have absolutely no idea how this works, but it does. This soft microfibre face towel removes all make-up, including waterproof mascara, just with added water – no other product needed – and bung it in the washing machine when it needs a clean. It’s quite amazing. We’re not convinced we’ll be swapping it for our traditional remover just yet, but it’s definitely a great option for travelling – and lazy days.

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Tabitha Eve organic make-up rounds: £5.50, Tabitha Eve

Reduce your waste by swapping your usual disposable cotton pads for Tabitha Eve’s super soft cotton rounds. Use them as you would a cotton pad to remove your eye make-up, then simply pop them in the washing machine and reuse.

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The verdict: Make-up removers

Lancome’s bi-facial is a cult product for a reason: its formula is brilliantly creative and it works. But for a good stand-in at a sixth of the price, you can’t go wrong with Nivea’s double effect.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.