Do your eyes water at the very thought of a mascara wand? Whether you're a contact lens wearer, suffer with allergies (hay fever is a friend to no one's peepers, any time of the year) or just have super sensitive eyes then mascara can easily leave your eyes red and itchy. It's a sticky situation where you want to wear it, but is it worth it if you have to go out with bloodshot eyes? Luckily, there are hypoallergenic mascaras for sensitive eyes, so you can get long, luscious lashes without the irritation.
What causes eyes to become sensitive and watery?
Sensitive, watery eyes are pretty common, and can be caused by allergens like dust, pollen or pets. If you’re a regular contact lens wearer, and spend all day in an air-conditioned office or staring at a computer screen (guilty), you’re also more likely to suffer from red, sore eyes – a situation which can in turn be exacerbated by the ingredients in your make-up.
What’s a hypoallergenic mascara?
Put simply, a hypoallergenic formula is one that doesn’t include ingredients that are common allergens and is free from fragrance, making it a safe bet for those with sensitive, watery eyes. Most hypoallergenic mascaras will be marked as such on the tube, or bear the label ‘suitable for sensitive eyes.’ Simple.
Should I wear waterproof mascara if my eyes are sensitive?
If you’re doing battle with watery, puffy eyes each day, waterproof mascara might seem like an obvious solution. But while a tear-proof formula might initially make for fewer panda-eye smudges, it won’t do you any favours in the long term. Waterproof mascaras are, of course, harder to remove, and scrubbing away with make-up remover can exacerbate the problem, leaving you with itchier, more irritated eyes.
What’s the best mascara for sensitive eyes?
Steer clear of fibre mascaras – while these formulas might give you long, thick lashes, the fibres may drop into your eyes throughout the day and exacerbate the irritation. Your best bets are natural PH balanced formulas with soothing ingredients, which will care for lashes while lengthening and won’t flake or clump. It’s also worth looking out for ‘tubing’ mascara formulas, which form ‘tubes’ around the lashes. It’s waterproof, but slides off the lashes easily, without any need for over-scrubbing (cutting down the risk of irritation). Look out for Clinique’s Lash Power Mascara (£19) and RMS Beauty’s Defining Mascara (£24).
Which ingredients should I look for, and which should I avoid?
As a general rule, you want to find a mascara with as simple a formula as possible, containing fewer potential irritants. Stick to black rather than brightly coloured mascara (apologies in advance to all those ‘80s beauty enthusiasts), and look out for fragrance-free products. Avoid irritants like the thickening agent HEC (which is also found in soap. Ouch) and instead look for soothing natural ingredients like aloe vera, which can help to tackle inflammation.
It’s also worth noting that good make-up hygiene becomes imperative if you suffer from dry, sensitive eyes. Make sure you throw away old make-up (mascara should only be kept for three months maximum) and never try to re-use dried out mascara by adding water.
What’s the best way to apply mascara to sensitive eyes?
Avoid applying mascara right at the roots of your lashes; instead, brush it towards the ends to minimise contact with your eyes. If you’re an eyeliner junkie, you should refrain from ‘tight-lining’ inside the waterline. Though this blogger-approved technique undoubtedly yields dramatic results, it’s one that those with sensitive eyes should avoid, and can potentially increase risk of infection. For an extra boost without over-loading your lashes with product, it's worth investing in an eyelash curler. Shu Uemura's Eyelash Curler (£20) is widely considered to be one of the best in the business.
In the gallery below, we’ve scouted out the best hypoallergenic mascaras that will work with your sensitive eyes, rather than against them.
Click through the gallery below and check out our top 10 mascaras for sensitive eyes...