Itchy, watery, or irritated eyes can be a real bummer. They can cause discomfort all day long, distract you from whatever’s on your to-do list, and make your eyes appear puffy or red, which is frustrating when all you want to do is look your best. They can also stand in the way of trying new eye makeup trends, mastering a cat eye, or rocking a bold eyeliner look.
If you have sensitive eyes, then you’re likely even more prone to dealing with all the above issues. Fortunately, you can help curb the discomfort—without sacrificing your eye makeup in the process! Just follow our makeup tips for sensitive eyes.
Wear Makeup That’s Formulated for Sensitive Skin
As a general rule of thumb, you should only use eye makeup and skincare products that are explicitly formulated for use around the eyes. You can go one step further by seeking cosmetics made with sensitive eyes in mind. IT Cosmetics was founded by Jamie Kern Lima, who’s been vocal about her lifelong struggle with sensitive skin. She made it her mission to create gentle, skin-loving formulations—including mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow—so others with sensitive skin can feel confident in their beauty routine.
Avoid Irritating Ingredients
Certain ingredients can cause what’s referred to as “contact dermatitis.” These include some solvents, rubbing alcohol, formaldehyde, soaps, and color additives. Contact dermatitis can present as mild irritation, a red and itchy rash, or even painful blistering wherever the ingredient touches your skin. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should immediately stop using the product and contact your dermatologist if your symptoms persist.
Toss Out Expired Cosmetics
All your cosmetics have an expiration date, and it’s important to toss anything that’s past its prime. This is a must-follow rule with all your products, but especially with eye makeup that comes into close contact with this delicate area. Doing so can truly help prevent irritation, watering, itchiness, and redness for those with sensitive eyes.
The shelf life of your products is often listed on the product packaging but, when in doubt, follow these general guidelines for makeup expiration:
- Mascara: 3 months
- Lipsticks & Lip Glosses: 6 months
- Lip & Eyeliner Pencils: 6 to 12 months
- Cream-based formulas: 9 months (more frequently if applied with fingers or if you’re prone to acne)
- Powder-based formulas: 9 to 12 months
- SPF in formula: replace by expiration date on the package
Pro Tip: Never try to “revive” old, dried-out mascara with water or saliva. This can cause bacteria to grow in the mascara tube, which can lead to irritation or even an eye infection.
Clean Your Makeup Brushes Weekly
Speaking of bacteria, your eye makeup brushes could be a breeding ground for yucky stuff if they’re not washed regularly. Make sure you wash them at least once a week or—even better—after each use. Check out our full guide on how to clean your makeup brushes if you’re not sure where to begin.
Try Eyeliner and Eyeshadow that Won’t Tug
When it comes to applying makeup, few things are worse than using an eyeliner or eyeshadow that scrapes against your delicate eyelid. We promise—there are way better formulations out there that’ll make applying your eye makeup a legitimate delight!
Superhero No-Tug Waterproof Eyeshadow Sticks, which come in 12 flattering shades, are a perfect example. These creamy, long-wear eyeshadows seamlessly glide across your lids and are super blendable. Plus, the crease-proof formula means you won't have to worry about midday touch-ups.
Our Superhero No-Tug Sharpenable Gel Eyeliner offers the same easy glide formulation and allows you to create a range of different eye looks. It comes in eight high-impact shades, including black, espresso, blue, and emerald. You can also try the Superhero No Tug Retractable Eyeliner, which comes in black, brown, and silk taupe.
Use Smudge-Free, Non-Flaking Mascara
When mascara clumps, smudges, or flakes, the product can make its way into your eyes and create irritation. Tested by ophthalmologists, Hello Lashes+ Volumizing Mascara with Lash Serum is a smudge-proof formula that won't clump or flake. As a bonus, it's infused with lash-loving ingredients such as argan oil, jojoba oil, and biotin and is formulated for easy removal. It’s a game-changing mascara for anyone with sensitive eyes.
Don’t Apply Eyeliner to Your Water Line
We’re not quite sure where this makeup habit originated, but applying eyeliner directly to your water line is a major no-no. In fact, you should do everything you can to avoid getting any product into your sensitive eyes, which is a recipe for irritation, watering, and redness.
If you want that tightline effect, use a precision mascara, such as Tightline Waterproof 3-in-1 Black Primer - Eyeliner - Mascara. The skinny wand on this peptide-infused multitasking product allows you to reach all the way to the roots of your lashes. It’s also waterproof for up to 12 hours!
Remove Eye Makeup With a Gentle Cleanser
Washing your face every night can help prevent eye makeup from getting into your eyes. We recommend using a gentle cleanser that effectively breaks down the most stubborn eye makeup, including waterproof mascara, eyeshadow, and liquid eyeliner.
Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm is the cleanser for the job. It seamlessly melts away makeup while delivering a skin-softening anti-aging serum. Just massage a small amount onto dry skin, then rinse with warm water and gently pat dry before moving along to the rest of your skincare routine.
Don’t Apply Moisturizer to Your Eyelids
You should absolutely apply moisturizer after cleansing your skin morning and evening, but avoid placing the moisturizer on your eyelids. Once these products warm up on your skin, they can “travel” and then get into your eyes. This can lead to itchy eyes, watery eyes, irritation, and redness. Instead, you should apply your moisturizer—including eye cream—around the orbital bone.
While you’re in learning mode, read through our 411 on the pressing question of whether you should use eye cream on your eyelids!