Having dry, sensitive eyes is a real bummer when you love makeup. Liquid liners can turn your eyes red and puffy while mascara can make them water and spoil your entire look.

But it’s possible to glam up without enduring the painful symptoms of dry and sensitive eyes. You only need to keep in mind a few tips, like avoiding irritating ingredients and tossing out expired products.

To help you better navigate the hazards lying in your beauty kit, we’ve put together eleven makeup tips for sensitive eyes. But first...

Why Do My Eyes Get Irritated When I Wear Makeup?

Many eye makeup products, especially powder and glitters, can easily come in contact with your tear film.

When that happens, your tear film starts to thin out and evaporate quickly. This is a major cause of eye irritation, dryness, and sensitivity in cosmetic wearers.

What’s more, makeup products applied on the inner lash line can block the oil glands. This affects the quality of your tears and worsens symptoms in people with dry eyes.

Makeup Ingredients to Avoid for Sensitive Eyes

Reading the ingredient list on a mascara stick or eyeshadow palette can feel like extra work. But doing so can help you steer clear of certain nasties linked with everything from eye irritation to redness and pain.

To help you pick the right makeup products for sensitive eyes, here is a list of ingredients to avoid.

  • Makeup removers containing parabens
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Heavy metals, including lead, nickel, cobalt, and chromium
  • Silicones
  • Phthalates
  • Bleach and dyes
  • Detergent
  • Preservatives like formaldehyde, bronopol, and benzalkonium chloride (BAK)
  • Fragrance additives like myroxylon pereirae
  • Talc

Makeup Tips for Sensitive Eyes

If you have dry and sensitive eyes, chances are you’ve been avoiding eye makeup. Even the lightest coat of mascara or a gentle pat of eyeshadow can cause watery, itchy eyes.

closeup of eye with mascara and red eye shadow makeup

The good news is you don’t have to give up on eye makeup as long as you follow a few essential tips. That way, whether you’re going for the fox-eye look or dramatic upside-down eyeliner, your eyes will feel comfortable.

#1 Don’t Let Makeup Come in Direct Contact with Your Eyes

When you apply makeup to your eyelids, lashes, or waterline, small particles can easily get into your eyes. This triggers eye sensitivity and dryness.

To prevent this, avoid applying mascara to the roots of your eyelashes. Additionally, use eyeliner only on the outer part of your lids without touching the waterline.

#2 Avoid Irritating Ingredients

Certain ingredients in your makeup can cause eye irritation, itchy rashes, and even blistering. Whether you’re using an eyeshadow palette or a kohl pencil, ensure that they’re made for sensitive eyes.

Opt for hypoallergenic products that are unlikely to cause allergic reactions. Stay away from products containing perfumes, preservatives, rubbing alcohol, sulfates, and added color.

#3 Never Sleep with Makeup On

Remember to remove makeup before bedtime. This will keep the makeup particles from getting into your eyes, clogging the oil glands, and causing infections.

Use a gentle cleanser to break down even stubborn and waterproof mascara, eyeshadow, and liquid eyeliner. Rinse with warm water and gently tap dry.

#4 Regularly Clean Brushes and Applicators

Your makeup brushes and applicators can be a breeding ground for germs. It’s important to wash them once or twice a week with mild soap and warm water.

Once cleaned and dried, store them in a covered container. This simple step will help prevent flare-ups of eye sensitivity.

#5 Use Non-Flaking Mascara

Beware of mascara flakes that can make their way into your eyes. They may lead to inflammation and infection. Plus, they accumulate in your tear film and cause chronic dry eye.

Always read the label before buying mascara. Go for a smudge-proof, non-flaking formula that won’t get into your eyes.

#6 Don’t Apply Moisturizer to Eyelids

Moisturizer on your eyelids is a big no-no. Once the product warms up on your skin, it can get into your eyes and lead to over-sensitive eyes.

Instead, you can apply moisturizer and cream around your orbital bone. Make sure they are formulated for use around the eyes.

#7 Avoid Applying Eyeliner to Your Waterline

Whether you have sensitive eyes or not, applying eyeliner to your waterline is a recipe for irritation, redness, and tearing.

Woman applying eyeliner to her left eye

To limit the risk, keep eye makeup away from your waterline. And if you must, apply eyeliner under your waterline without touching it.

#8 Don’t Share Your Eye Makeup

Sharing your eye makeup can facilitate the spread of germs. In turn, this can increase your risk of an eye infection, especially if you have sensitive eyes.

You also want to think twice before trying out testers at makeup counters. These can easily expose you to infections. It’s better to ask for small, single-use testers instead.

#9 Toss Out Expired Cosmetics

Cosmetic products come with a shelf life. The chances of cosmetics harboring bacteria are higher after their expiration date according to a 2013 study. The same study found that women often continue to use makeup after it expires.

Make sure to discard anything that’s past its prime, especially your eye makeup.

For people with dry and sensitive eyes, a regular makeup cleanup can prevent irritation, tearing, itchiness, and the other side effects of using expired eye makeup.

#10 Don’t Use Waterproof Makeup

Waterproof mascara and eyeliner are great at staying in place. But they’re not the best pick if you have sensitive eyes. They can be really difficult to remove and make you rub your eyelids and lashes too hard.

You may end up with dry red eyes. To say nothing of the swelling around your eyes later on.

#11 Avoid Too Many Eye Products

Finally, keep your eye makeup simple and avoid applying too many products. Don’t overload your lids with eyeliner, eyeshadow, and glitter all at the same time.

Stick to just basic eye makeup products instead. And use only a minimal amount of each. That way, you’ll be less likely to get dry eye disease.

What Is the Best Eye Makeup for Sensitive Eyes

From eyeshadows to eyeliner, here is the best eye makeup for sensitive allergic eyes. Next time you go shopping for makeup, keep the following suggestions in mind.

  • Mascara: Choose washable, paraben-free mascara.
  • Eyeshadow: Avoiding glittery and shimmery eyeshadows is not enough. Eyeshadows for sensitive eyes should have a creamy formula that doesn’t flake.
  • Eyeliners: When it comes to eyeliners, the best eye makeup for sensitive eyes is a ballpoint liner. It creates a well-defined look and glides smoothly over your eyelids.
  • Makeup brushes: Whether you use synthetic or natural makeup brushes, make sure they’re soft, not scratchy.
  • Makeup palettes: While using makeup palettes, go for neutral hues. Red and purple palettes may contain dyes and other irritants.
  • Eye cream: Opt for hypoallergenic eye creams that don’t cause allergic reactions. If possible, avoid products with fragrances.

mascara, eye shadow, and makeup brushes scattered on a washed out pink surface seen from above

How to Put Makeup on Sensitive Eyes

Eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, and other makeup products can lead to eye sensitivity. But putting them on the right way can make you feel—and look—your best.

Step 1 – Read the Ingredients

Several eye makeup products are made for use around the eyes. These are gentle, skin-loving formulations that don’t cause dry or sensitive eyes.

Look for these products and read the ingredients. Anything containing sulfates or parabens raises a big red flag.

Step 2 – Wash Your Hands

Before applying any eye makeup, wash your hands well. Otherwise, dirt and germs from your fingers can reach your eyes and cause irritation.

Step 3 – Gently Wipe Around Your Eyes

Your skin’s natural oils as well as eye creams can prevent makeup from staying put all day. This can lead to smudging and flaking.

Use a clean cloth or cotton pad to gently wipe your eyelids, lashes, and the area around your eyes.

Step 4 – Apply Eyeshadow Before Eyeliner

Start by putting on eyeshadow. Go for a creamy eyeshadow since powder formulations tend to fall into your eyes.

Next, use eyeliner that doesn’t have to be pressed hard. Liquid and gel linens are a good choice for sensitive eyes.

Step 5 – Avoid the Waterline

Whether you’re applying eyeshadow, eyeliner, or kohl, avoid the inner eyelid. Your makeup can easily reach your eyes from the waterline and cause irritation, infection, and even vision trouble, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Step 6 – Avoid the Inner Corner

At the same time, apply makeup only on the outer corners of your eyes while avoiding the inner corners. This will keep the makeup particles from falling into the eyes and minimize the risk of dry eye syndrome.

Step 7 – Rinse Your Eyes If Makeup Gets In

If you accidentally get any makeup in your eyes, properly rinse them. Flush out all mascara, liner, or eyeshadow flakes. This can prevent eyes from turning dry and sensitive.

Step 8 – Remove Makeup Daily

This step may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of people end up with eye sensitivity if they leave makeup on before sleeping.

Be sure to use a gentle makeup remover to wipe your eyelids. Don’t rub your eyelids and lashes too hard.

Woman with makeup on smiling against soft sunset light

Keep Your Eyes Happy

Having dry and sensitive eyes is no fun. Add in eye makeup and things can get even worse. You will have red, inflamed eyes that may water and spoil your entire look.

But as long as you follow a few makeup tips for dry eyes, like picking the right products and maintaining proper hygiene, comfortable eye makeup is only a few steps away.

An eye health supplement can help soothe sensitive eyes. The Blueberry Gummies from Sightsage replenish your eyes with a careful mix of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for eye health, including anthocyanins, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

These nutrients can prevent damage to the retina caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. They support overall eye health in the digital age and can help relieve dry eye symptoms.

Blueberry Gummies are calorie-free and sugar-free. Sweetened with monk fruit, a diabetes-friendly sweetener, they are made from Canadian freeze-dried blueberries and taste deliciously. You can enjoy them at home, at the office, and take them with you when you travel.

Customers who have tried the Blueberry Gummies love them. Here’s what one reviewer had to say about them:

Effective and yummy. I ordered these for the entire family and my children love them! I stay long hours in front of a computer and the gummies help my sensitive eyes a lot. Less eye fatigue, no more redness and definitely more hydrated eyes! Great supplements, we will order again!❤️” – Camelia Nastase

Keep your eyes healthy with Blueberry Gummies.

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