How I avoid panda eyes

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Cleansers to remove even the hardiest of mascaras

I had resigned myself to the fact that no cleansers ever remove all the mascara I wear – at least not in one go. Every night I go to bed with a clean-looking face (no matter how battered you are after a boozy social, always take your make-up off, kids), and almost every morning I rise to find a teeny bit of black under my eyes. So very alluring.

If I were really thorough, I’d use an eye make-up remover as well as a cleanser – in which case, Benefit They’re Real! Strip-Down Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover (£14.50;, which erases the fiercest of waterproof mascara. I use this one on occasions when I’ve really piled on the slap.

For everyday cleansing I have been committed to Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (£14; for years. It’s great for the condition of my skin if it has been playing up in any way. However, it doesn’t reliably, completely take off the eye make-up, as my morning face demonstrates.

A few weeks ago, a trusted friend in the cosmetics industry described a product she’d discovered on her travels as “the best cleanser in the world” – the sort of Big Talk I find impossible not to act upon. So I have been testing Bio-Essence Miracle Bio-Water Jelly Makeup Remover (£16; against her enormous claim.

My mate has a point. This is a bloody good cleanser. I tried it with waterproof mascara – the ultimate test – and woke up nine nights out of ten not looking even slightly like an ageing panda. It has a gel-type texture; you massage it on and rinse it off. It comes in a pump-action bottle, which is important to those of us who measure our time in seconds and have no wish to be messing about with lids. It’s fresh smelling and perfect for dry skin. My face felt slightly moisturised afterwards. In fact, if I had a reservation, this would be it: I like to feel squeakily clean and ready to pile on loads of rich moisturiser after a cleanser – especially of an evening. This one leaves a veil of moisture that I found a bit presumptuous, but most over-forties faces would welcome, I suppose. Still, for the price and efficacy, it’s going to the top of my best-cleansers list.

I tried a few others while I was about it. I’ve mentioned the terrific French pharmacy brand Filorga before. I’d highly recommend its Anti-Ageing Micellar Solution (£20;, a clear liquid you apply and wipe off with cotton wool.

Shu Uemura’s Cleansing Beauty Oil (£30; is the best of the luxury ones, another wash-off product with a pump bottle. It’s a light oil that works wonders even with greasy skin. Massage it on, then splash with water to emulsify and rinse off. It’s a great skin conditioner. There was still a hint of black the next morning, but maybe I should have done it twice.