We’ve all been there. You’ve applied your makeup, you carefully pull your favourite white shirt over your head and…the next thing you know, you’re left Googling how to remove foundation from clothes.
There’s nothing worse than a foundation spill, or a yellow/orange tinge smeared around the neckline of your top but before you panic and reach for the bin, the following tips will ensure even the most stubborn stains will be removed. We’ve outlined the steps below and then explained them in more detail further down:
Liquid foundation is well pigmented, full of oil and will absorb into the fabric very quickly – you can read more about what’s in your foundation in our guide.
Even if you’re on your way out of the house, you need to tackle the stain straight away before the pigments have a chance to dry and settle. If you leave it until you’re home, you may not be able to remove the stain and will be left with no choice but to bin your clothes. If you’ve spilled or spattered liquid foundation, begin by scraping off any excess liquid with a plastic knife or credit card
Foundation “melts” into the skin when it gets warm, in reaction to your body temperature, so avoid blotting foundation with warm water as it could cause the pigments to bed in further. Instead, run a soft, damp (not wet) cloth under the cold tap, ring out excess water and blot the stain to remove the foundation. Do not rub as you may end up making the stain bigger.
There is a number of stain removers you can use to remove foundation from clothes, some – like detergent wipes and pens – are made for this task but there’s a chance that you may not have any to hand. Alternatively, there are everyday household items that work just as well, such as shaving foam. Yes, shaving foam.
Rather than fussing with expensive stain removers, Kim Kardashian-West swears by shaving foam when trying to remove makeup from clothes. Apply a squirt or two on the stained area and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Once the foam has dissolved, wipe it off with cold water.
This makes sense, Vanish (as an example) sells detergent foams designed to clean stains from clothes and carpets because the foam bubbles and lifts the stain from the surface. Shaving foam also moisturises and cleanses the skin, so it can help cleanse your clothes.
We recommend the Gillette shaving gel in vanilla – it smells great too – however, any brand should do the trick. If it’s good enough for Kim, it’s good enough for us.
Another stain remover that you may have lying around is rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol is fantastic for cutting grease, so can be used to remove oily foundation stains, lipstick marks and even remove nail polish. Simply moisten a cotton ball or soft cloth with some rubbing alcohol and dab on the fabric.
For even better results, try mixing a little rubbing alcohol in with shaving foam and then rinsing off with cold water. However, keep in mind that some fabrics do not do well with alcohol, be sure to avoid using rubbing alcohol on delicates such as silk and wool fabrics.
We recommend ClassiKool Rubbing Alcohol for removing foundation from clothes, and rubbing alcohol works best when applied as a spray or liquid but it has many benefits in beauty – it can help mend broken powders and eyeshadows, for instance – so it’s worth having in your cupboards. You may already have rubbing alcohol in your first aid kit.
Detergent pens and wipes
If you’re on the go, using detergent pens like Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover Pen can provide an effective quick fix to remove foundation from clothes. Simply rub the tip of the pen over the discoloured area until the stain starts to come off, and then wipe off any excess solution. Similarly, detergent wipes such as Kilrock Dabitoff Stain Remover Wipes are also great to throw in your bag for when you’re applying your makeup on the go and to keep any messy mishaps at bay.
Soap and water
If all you have on hand is soap and water – as long as you act quickly, it goes some way to removing foundation stains. Use water and a dab of dish detergent and rub the fabric against itself to create a foam.
Whichever stain remover option you go for, leaving it to work its magic on the stain for around 10 minutes will increase your chances of the stain being removed. If you don’t have the time, at least leave it on for three minutes.
Toothbrushes are precise enough to tackle small stains and soft enough to avoid causing damage to your clothes. The friction created by rubbing the toothbrush on the area will help lift the stain. If you have a reusable cleansing cloth – such as a Face Halo – this works well too because the soft microfibres are designed to attract and remove makeup from your skin, so do a similar job on clothes.
If the stain is caused by powder foundation or any other form of makeup, do not rub! Any attempt to wipe it away will be met with a smeared mess. Grab a hair dryer to dust off as much of the excess foundation as possible, you can also use a fan brush if you have one in your makeup brushes collection. Next, blot the stain with a cold soft damp cloth to remove any additional product from the fabric and follow the steps as above.
Once you’ve successfully removed all traces of foundation, launder your clothes as usual and leave to air-dry. Stain, what stain?
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Annie has a degree in Multimedia Journalism from Bournemouth University. Since graduating, Annie has freelanced for a travel magazine and is a senior account executive for a technology PR consultancy based in London, where her main role is content creation