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Here’s How to Safely and Gently Remove Waterproof Mascara

A woman using a cotton pad to remove makeup from her eyes

Picture it now: You’ve just finished washing your face, gently dab away the excess moisture with a clean towel, and then look up in the mirror to see a pair of mascara-covered raccoon eyes staring back at you. Needless to say, knowing how to take off waterproof mascara can get a little bit tricky. After all, it’s waterproof! If you’re searching for answers on how to remove waterproof mascara—without tugging on your delicate eye area or waking up to leftover marks on your pillow—we’re here to help.

Looking for an incredible waterproof mascara you can confidently wear wherever the day may take you? Check out IT Cosmetics’ Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara. It provides 20x more volume and 41% more visible length compared to your natural lashes, all while standing up to rain, water, sweating, flaking, and smudging for 24 hours. It provides 20x more volume and 41% more visible length compared to your natural lashes, all while standing up to rain, water, sweating, flaking, and smudging for 24 hours.

Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara
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Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara


Old price New price $28.00
One size available for Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara
0.3 US fl. oz. / 9 ml

How to Get Waterproof Mascara off Gently

Ready to forget all your mascara removal troubles? They'll be a distant memory if you follow these steps outlining how to get mascara off. And bonus: This technique works for both waterproof and traditional mascaras.

Step 1: Apply an Oil-Based Cleanser to Dry Skin

It might seem counterintuitive, but oil-based cleansers—including cleansing balms—should be applied to dry skin using dry hands. Knowing that, you’ve got two choices for application. The first is to apply the balm to the eye area and massage it onto skin with your fingers to remove the waterproof mascara. Alternatively, apply a dime-sized amount to a clean cotton pad and swipe it on the eye area.

Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover

Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover


Old price New price $47.00
One size available for Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover
4 oz / 100 g

Try IT: Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm

Our best makeup remover for waterproof mascara is Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm, a 3-in-1, sulfate-free cleansing balm that gently melts away all traces of makeup—even waterproof mascara and eye makeup—without irritating or drying skin.

“This is a great makeup remover. It takes off all my makeup, including waterproof mascara. It melts into my skin and it leaves my skin feeling soft,” says one reviewer on Another says, “It melts the makeup off and leaves my skin nice and soft. So many cleansers don’t get it all but this does. I love it!”

Step 2: Massage for About a Minute

Gently massage the cleansing balm or oil around the eye area using an upward motion, moving with the direction of your lashes versus against them. You can use your fingertips to help break down stubborn, waterproof mascara and makeup on your lashes and around your eyes.

Pro Tip: For a deeper clean and an extra boost of hydration, allow the cleansing balm to set for about a minute.

Step 3: Rinse With Warm Water

Once you’ve adequately broken down the product on your face, rinse with warm water. The water shouldn’t be hot since that can be drying, and it shouldn’t be cold since it can make removing the oil more difficult. As an alternative, some people like to simply remove the cleansing balm or oil with a clean cloth (damp or dry). This technique works if you aren’t wearing a lot of makeup or have dry skin and prefer the extra moisture.

Step 4: Consider Following Up With a Second Cleanser

You may find it’s not necessary since Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm is so effective at removing waterproof mascara and makeup. However, a double cleanse offers another shot at removing every last trace of makeup. After rinsing the cleansing balm away, simply apply a dime-size amount of a water-based cleanser to damp skin, massage, then rinse.

Confidence in a Cleanser
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Confidence in a Cleanser


Old price New price $35.00

Try IT: Confidence in a Cleanser

Along with cleansing your skin, Confidence in a Cleanser is formulated with a spectrum of skin-loving ingredients that can help improve the look and feel of your complexion over time. For example, hyaluronic acid to support skin elasticity and plump the look of fine lines and ceramides to visibly improve the skin barrier. Plus, it’s sulfate-free, alcohol-free and soap-free, which means you can feel confident every time you use it.

Step 5: Gently Pat Dry

After removing mascara and makeup with the cleansers, use a clean, dry towel to gently pat dry. Try not to rub or scrape your skin since this can irritate your delicate eye area.

Step 6: Complete Your Routine

Make sure to follow up with your favorite moisturizer and eye cream. For your face, we’re partial to the newly reformulated Confidence in a Cream Anti-Aging Hydrating Moisturizer, which is formulated with ceramides and hyaluronic acid and visibly reverses 10 signs of aging in two weeks along with providing 48 hours of hydration.

For eyes, you’ll love the creamy texture of Confidence in an Eye Cream Anti-Aging Peptide Eye Cream, which is also newly reformulated and includes a 2% Super Peptide Concentrate that improves the look of crow's feet, dark circles, laxity, and dryness in just four weeks.

5 Tips to Make Waterproof Mascara Even Easier to Remove

The above method for how to take mascara off is super effective. That said, here are some additional ways you can make the process even easier!

  1. Brush Lashes: Use a clean, dry spoolie (that’s the cute name for mascara wands) to brush your lashes before applying mascara. This helps separate lashes for easier application and also helps eliminate clumping for a quick cleanup when you’re ready to remove mascara.
  2. Apply a Base Coat: Protect your lashes with a base coat of regular mascara for longer, smudge-proof wear.
  3. Take Your Time: When you’re ready to take off mascara at the end of the day, take your time and be gentle. Gently massage enough of the cleanser onto your lashes, making sure to work the product between the lashes.
  4. Move in the Direction of Lashes: When removing mascara, avoid scrubbing horizontally or in circular movements. Instead, move vertically with the direction of lash growth. This minimizes stress on your lashes and can help prevent damage or lashes falling out.
  5. Don’t Pull at Mascara: If little bits of mascara are lingering on your lashes after cleansing, this is a sign that you need to spend a bit more time in the cleaning process. Avoid pulling at the mascara to remove it because this can make lashes fall out.

Is Waterproof Mascara Bad for Your Lashes?

Many people wonder if waterproof mascara is bad for your eyelashes. The truth is that many waterproof formulas do contain ingredients that can be drying for your lashes. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to give your lashes a break and use waterproof formulations only when duty calls—like when you’re hitting the pool or know you’re going to sweat a lot.

We also strongly recommend using mascara formulations that go above and beyond to nurture and nourish your lashes. Two of our favorites are:

Congrats—you officially know how to remove waterproof mascara like a pro! Don’t forget to moisturize your skin after you’ve finished cleansing. If you’re not sure which moisturizer is best for your skin type, check out our overview on Different Types of Moisturizer To Know and Try.

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