moana make up remover

Reviewed by Maura on August 28, 2015

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I am a 25-year-old makeup junkie (and occasional makeup artist to our very own Marta Wohrle) with an oily T-zone and rosacea on my cheeks, so I’m forever trying to find the balance between hydrating and pore-clogging. And since I wear a full face of makeup at least five days a week, it’s imperative that my removers get rid of every last trace of pigment. I’d used and loved making up removing oils in the past and was eager to try Moana Makeup Remover ($89 NZ). In short, I found it effective and hydrating but that it required too many steps for my liking.

The day I received this makeup remover, my face was ready to put it to the ultimate test: it’s been very hot and humid in NYC so I was wearing long-wearing concealer, setting spray and waterproof liquid liner and mascara. After getting home from work, I removed the bottle from its box, pumped twice to dispense a palmful of yellow oil, and slowly began working it over my face with my fingertips. My first impression was of the smell: not completely unpleasant but also not the most enjoyable. Kind of a waxy botanical smell that I haven’t come to look forward to. It also appeared to be a thicker oil than the other makeup removing oils I’ve used & loved (a favorite is Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin B Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover). My liner began to flake away, as is standard with waterproof liquid formulas, as I gently rubbed the oil over my eyes while the mascara proved to be a bit more stubborn but eventually began to melt. There was no eye-stinging at all, a big plus. I tried adding a bit of water to begin to emulsify the oil but quickly realized that wasn’t happening; bits of my eyeliner and mascara got stuck in the layer of oil clinging to my face, making quite a mess.

Now, you may be thinking, “how can she complain about an oil makeup remover being too oily?”, but allow me to explain. The two other oil-based makeup removers that I’ve used and enjoyed were a very light viscosity oil, and when I added water to them, they emulsified into a milky texture and rinsed away with little to no residue. On the other hand, Moana’s Make Up Remover is quite heavy and clung to my skin even as I tried to add water to rinse it off. I could actually see water beading on my skin’s surface when I tried to “rinse off with warm water,” as per Moana’s instructions. I eventually had to give up trying to remove it with water and use a couple of tissues to wipe the rest away, and even then was left with a heavy-feeling film on my skin. Granted, Moana doesn’t claim that this product is a cleanser, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that I be able to get a make up remover off of my face without two additional steps.

After this initial experience, I emailed Moana to ask if there were any special instructions for this remover, and they replied that it was recommended to splash your face with water before applying this remover. I tried again with the added first step of wetting my face, and found the remover somewhat easier to move around but I still needed three tissues to remove the makeup-saturated oil from my skin, and then I needed to use a cleanser to remove the oily residue. This simply doesn’t strike me as a very efficient way to remove makeup. Melting makeup with a heavy oil only to need a tissue or cloth to remove the remover itself, and then use another cleanser to further remove the remover is a bit much for me. On the plus side, this remover never broke out my skin despite its oil base.

I could see this product working for dry or dehydrated skin or combination skin in the colder months given its hydrating nature, granted that the person doesn’t mind using a cloth or tissue to wipe away this remover. In fact, I know of a method of cleansing that involves using a hot cloth, so perhaps for a devotee of that method, this product would be great. For me, it’s just not a good fit.