Eye Makeup Remover: The Best Tool to Battle Bike Grease
Any cyclist worth their kit will get dirty at some point. From general maintenance to dropped chains your hands will get dirty and grimy. After numerous products and lingering grease I made a fantastic discovery: a secret weapon known as eye makeup remover.
Biking and the battle with grease
The most famous sign of a new rider is a “rookie mark” or “chainring tattoo”: that lovely greasy circle that graces your calf. Generally there are three ways this grimy sign of a new rider happens:
The telltale grease marks of a rookie cyclist are fondly called "rookie marks"
The other common reasons for grease and grime are doing quick repairs on the go. If you have a flat or your chain pops off the odds are good you will get a bit dirty. I would suggest taking off your gloves so they stay clean (it is much easier to clean skin than fabric). This will also minimize the transfer to your bars when you hop back on. Try to to get the job done with a finger or two and hopefully there is some nice lush grass nearby to clean off.
- Hanging out, standing straddling your tube, your leg catches your ring leaving a nice clear print.
- Falling victim to your new clipped pedals and shoes. You fall over before clipping out and wiggle around like a turtle on its back trying to free yourself. You will likely end up with some significant smears.
- The ultimate rookie mark: on your left leg. Walking your bike on the drive chain side is something only newbies do. It is a virtual guarantee you will end up with a nice chain or chainring mark on your leg.
Makeup remover: the secret solution
During my first season of riding I received many a rookie mark. I tried soap, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, bike de-greaser, mechanics soap and anything else I could think of - even lemon juice and baking soda. Then one day, reaching up for some post-shower moisturizer, rookie mark still riding my calf hard, I saw my eye makeup remover.
*Cue angels singing.*
I want to ride and play hard but I don’t want look like a grease monkey after. The simple solution of eye makeup remover was sitting in my cupboard the whole time. A simple swipe of a cotton ball and the grease was gone, with virtually no scrubbing to boot. This has since become my go-to solution for this problem. The same ingredients that are used to deal with waterproof mascara can also, gently, abolish a bit of bike grease.
Bonus tip: makeup remover wipes
Another little sneaky tool to pop in your saddle bag: a makeup remover wipe. I have seen some people stash a pair of disposable gloves in there to protect hands from chain grease but I find that these can be a bit finicky to get on sweaty hands. Why not, instead, add a disposable wipe? Take out the wipe, deal with the repair, use it to clean up your hands and slip the wipe back in its pouch to dispose of later. Just don’t leave it on the side of the road - we all see too much garbage there already.
Another way to avoid all this is to make sure you are using the appropriate amount of chain lube. The more experience you have cleaning and maintaining your bike the more intuitive it gets. If there is too much oil it actually attracts dirt. After cleaning, drying and lubing your chain, wipe off any excess.
Combining proper lube with practising clipping out of your pedals and walking your bike on the left side, hopefully no one will spot you for a rookie.