We have all done it to a favourite shirt or sweater: pulled it off over your head and realized later that you got foundation or lipstick or even–I have no idea how I accomplished this–eye makeup on it. And of course, the makeup stain is in a highly visible place, thus ruining your lovely top. Or maybe you provided a shoulder for a makeup-wearing friend to cry on and after they cheered up, you were left with a smudgy reminder that you were a good friend to them. Fashion models are often required to wear scarves over their heads as they change into clothes at photo shoots and fashion shows. If they damage a garment, they must purchase it or pay for repairs. So avoiding makeup stains is very important to a model. But in real life, who is going to get dressed with a scarf over their head? And some of us put our makeup on before we get dressed. So makeup stains are a fact of life for many of us.
What to do? Fear not, there is some help. Even after it has been washed. Yep, believe it or not, you can remove makeup even some time later. There are a few different strategies, depending on what you have gotten on the garment.
First, and easiest, is to try a commercial spray solution such as Shout or Spray ‘n Wash. These have enzymes which are supposed to dissolve stains. But I have found a few other ways which may be more effective.
One caveat: Don’t be super-aggressive in your attempts to remove makeup. Scrubbing hard will only damage the fibres, while driving the stain deeper into the fabric. Repeated gentle treatment might be necessary. So keep calm, be patient and persistent (omg, sounds like life advice, not stain removal!)
If it looks like it might be foundation or eye makeup, you can spray it (really soak it, actually) with cheap non-aerosol (pump style) hairspray. Unless your garment is made from fabric containing acetate. In this situation, DON’T use hairspray, as it will dissolve the fabric! I get this kind of hairspray at Walmart or the drugstore. Once the stain is soaked, you can either wash the garment right away or let the hairspray dry. It doesn’t seem to make much difference. Wash as usual. If any colour lingers, repeat the process. The alcohol and acetone in hairspray acts to dissolve the makeup. I keep a bottle of hairspray under the sink and spray my facial washcloths with it immediately after washing my face, then let them dry on a towel rack.
Lipstick is harder to remove, mostly because of the red pigments. Also, the wax used to make lipstick glide on soon becomes hard and embedded in the fibres of the garment. So I recommend warm water poured through from the back of the fabric, to help melt the wax. By pouring from behind the stain, you are using gravity to push the stain and wax back out of the fabric, rather than spreading or diffusing it. After this water treatment, I would then try the hairspray. I have had excellent success with it. Better than any other treatments.
There are special washcloths that remove your makeup without special cleansers. And when you toss them in the wash, they come out clean with no special handling. Too bad our clothes aren’t as easy. Of course, I have to say I wouldn’t want to wear any garments made from that washcloth fabric!
When you are out shopping, you might come across an item with a foundation stain, left over from someone who tried it on previously. Don’t despair if you can’t find another garment in your size. Often stores will give you a discount on garments that have makeup stains, and then you can remove the stain at home. Just ask a manager about a discount for the ‘damage’. It’s usually a ten to fifteen percent discount, so it can be worth your while.