Take it off, take it off

So you wash your face before bed every night just like Mom taught you -- great! But unless you remove your makeup before cleansing, all you're doing is giving your mascara a sudsing. Here are my favorite ways to take off a bright lip or bold eyeliner at the end of the day.

  1. Makeup Eraser ($20 for one at Sephora). This reusable washcloth, clearly imbued with dark magic, removes even waterproof eye makeup with only warm water. Toss it in with the laundry and it's ready to go again (and again and again).  I've had mine for about six months and have washed it dozens of times, but there's life left in it yet; the cloth can be machine-washed and reused hundreds of times, the company says.

  2. Black Magic Makeup Remover Cloths ($12 for two at Sephora). Also magic and also reusable, these cloths are slightly smaller than the brand-name Makeup Eraser (8-by-8, compared with 7-by-16), but they work just as well. Of note: Unless you want to machine-wash your magic cloths every day or so, you'll want multiples. I stocked up at this lower price.

  3. Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water ($6.99 for 13.5 oz. at drugstores). This colorless, odorless liquid relies on a different sort of sorcery. "Micelles capture and lift away dirt like a magnet," Garnier says. I know not of micelles but can attest to the magnetic effect. A little splash of cleansing water on a cotton round can remove even a full face of makeup.

  4. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes ($6.49 for 25 at drugstores). Though these are the cheapest option, I prefer reserving these one-time-use soft cloths for travel or light-makeup days. Because if you're rocking a seriously smoky eye, you may need two towelettes to get the job done.

Alison Smith has a deep and abiding love of lipstick. Got a burning beauty question? Email asmith@philly.com.