How do I Choose the Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes?

B. Miller

If you have sensitive eyes, or are prone to allergic reactions from cosmetics, it is very important to choose a mascara that won't irritate your eyes. Mascara can easily mix with the natural moisture in the eyes, causing them to itch and hurt. To choose the best mascara for you, first try to determine if there are particular ingredients in mascaras that you are sensitive or allergic to, and avoid those products.

A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.
A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.

If you have an allergy, your only option is to choose hypoallergenic mascara. The package will typically be clearly marked as hypoallergenic; keep in mind that "natural" or "organic" products are not necessarily hypoallergenic. Even if you are not allergic, selecting a hypoallergenic mascara for sensitive eyes is usually a good choice, because it has been thoroughly tested by a dermatologist and will not contain any potential irritants.

Makeup remover may be used to remove eye makeup without causing eye irritation.
Makeup remover may be used to remove eye makeup without causing eye irritation.

If you are concerned about certain ingredients in cosmetics, you might choose organic or natural mascara. Though these may not be hypoallergenic, they may be designed with fewer ingredients or more nature-based ingredients that may not irritate the eyes. It may be necessary to try more than one type of mascara in order to find the best one for you. Hypoallergenic, natural, and organic mascara can be found in many drugstores or online; be sure to carefully read the packaging so you are aware of exactly what you are purchasing.

If a mascara irritates your eyes, immediately stop using it and switch to something else. There should be no need to "get used to" a new product for the eyes. In addition, remember to replace your mascara approximately every three months, and more frequently if you notice an odd smell or if the mascara is made with organic or natural products, which may not hold up as well. Do not pump the mascara wand in and out of the tube, which can introduce bacteria into the mascara, and potentially lead to an eye infection.

In addition to choosing the best mascara for sensitive eyes, it is important to choose a makeup remover for sensitive eyes as well. The makeup remover should be able to thoroughly remove all of the mascara with one or two sweeps of a cotton ball or pre-soaked makeup remover pad. There should be no need for rubbing, pulling, or tugging on the eyes. There are many eye makeup removers designed for those with sensitive eyes, so it is important to choose carefully.

A person with sensitive skin or eyes should use a hypoallergenic mascara.
A person with sensitive skin or eyes should use a hypoallergenic mascara.

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Discussion Comments


@BambooForest, a make up artist once told me much of what you have said. She also informed me that overuse of mascara, or even regular use in moderation, can actually slow or stop lash growth; it is a vicious cycle, because many women use mascara daily because they think their lashes are too thin, when they might really be increasing the problem themselves.

This make up artist also told me that the reason for this is that many products like mascara contain thickening and coating agents which clog the cuticle; she specifically recommended against using waterproof mascaras, because they are unnecessary as well, "unless you are going somewhere where you know you are going to be crying." I took her advice, and these days wear mascara maybe twice a week; my lashes are better than ever before.


When using mascara, it is also important to make sure that it is actually the product causing the problem, and not an issue of overuse or misuse. Many women apply far too much mascara. Make up artists and dermatologists alike recommend no more than 3 brushes through each upper set of lashes with mascara; it is also not considered either stylish or safe to use mascara on your lower set of lashes, because this area is most prone to irritation from the product getting into your eye, as well as it running along your face and soiling or even irritating your skin in other places.

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