Tired, dry or allergy-ridden peepers? Our pick of the best mascaras for sensitive eyes deliver plenty of drama without any pain
The most significant step in any makeup routine – and one that can make an enormous difference to your overall look– is mascara. Unfortunately, for some, mascara formulations can cause eyes to water endlessly and even sting.
Since mascara first appeared on shop shelves way back in 1872, it’s become a makeup bag staple. Whether you’re trying to achieve a full-on fake lash look or something more natural, it’s one product that most won’t be without. However, if you’ve steered clear in the past because you have sensitive eyes, then it’s high time you checked out the numerous mascaras designed for those with delicate peepers in mind.
If you’re craving long, luscious lashes without the irritation, read on for our picks. First, our buying guide decodes the jargon and reveals what to look for when buying the best mascara for sensitive eyes.
Best mascara for sensitive eyes: At a glance
|La Roche-Posay Toleriane Mascara for Sensitive Eyes | £26
|Check price at Amazon
|Best waterproof mascara for sensitive lashes
|Lancôme Hypnôse Waterproof Mascara | £29
|Check price at LookFantastic
|Best everyday mascara for sensitive eyes
|Milk Makeup Rise Mascara | £25
|Check price at Space NK
How to choose the best mascara for sensitive eyes
What features should I look for in a mascara for sensitive eyes?
Hypoallergenic – If you’re unsure about what, in particular, is causing your eye sensitivity, a good place to start would be to choose a mascara that’s labelled as “hypoallergenic”. This means that the product has been created using ingredients that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Most hypoallergenic mascaras have fragrance-free formulas and exclude known irritants such as alcohol, thickening agents, parabens, sulphates and/or phthalates.
Ophthalmologically tested – For additional reassurance when choosing a mascara for sensitive eyes, look for formulas that are “ophthalmologically tested”, which means that the product has been professionally tested and approved by an eye doctor. Other sensitive mascaras may not be tested by eye doctors, but could be “dermatologically tested”, which means they’ve been through dermatological testing to ensure the product is suitable for use on sensitive skin.
Waterproof – A mascara that’s waterproof can help those with sensitive eyes because it won’t smudge or run into the eye at the first sign of a tear. Those with allergies that tend to make them sneeze or tear up are better off with a waterproof mascara.
Easy removal – Vigorously scrubbing or tugging at eyelashes can lead to the delicate eye area becoming inflamed and lash loss or breakage. Ultimately, you want to ensure you find a mascara that’s fuss-free to remove, resulting in less discomfort to the eye.
Natural ingredients – Plus points go to mascaras that have oil-enriched formulas and conditioning vitamins. Not only are these best for sensitive eyes as a result of their natural formulations, but they will be most effective for long-lasting lash health, too.
Can everyone benefit from a mascara designed for sensitive eyes?
Yes, very much so. Many people who don’t have sensitive eyes also opt for hypoallergenic, or ophthalmologically tested mascaras as a precaution. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve accidentally rubbed eyes with makeup on. A more gentle or hypoallergenic formula is less likely to cause your eyes to water than a regular mascara.
How we test mascara for sensitive eyes
To test the mascaras we review, we use each product on sensitive skin, taking note of the various qualities that make them ideal for sensitive eyes and noting whether these impact the performance of the mascara.
We start by following a mascara’s application instructions, evaluating the overall ease of application, how easy it is to remove at the end of the day and the longevity of each product. We also note the benefits of any natural ingredients in the formula on sensitive eyes. Finally, we confirm any tests that have previously been carried out, the key ingredients, whether a formula is long-wearing and fragrance-free and the available colours.
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For a mascara that delivers on all fronts – a volume boost, extreme hold and complete coverage for very sensitive eyes – the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Mascara might just be a non-negotiable staple for your makeup bag. Enriched with a unique revitalising serum containing hydrating jojoba oil and arginine, this formula claims to protect precious lashes from breakage and stress.
It also benefits from technology that extends lashes, essentially creating a thicker lash fringe that acts as a barrier against irritators entering the eye. This innovative tech means you can achieve the voluminous look you desire, without lashes feeling weighed down. Delivering both glamour and comfort for the eyes, thanks to its minimal, thoroughly tested ingredients, this mascara is hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested, so you can achieve the wow factor without the tears.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: No (it’s dermatologically tested); Key ingredients: Ceramides, arginine, carnauba wax; Colours: Black
2. Rimmel Kind & Free Clean Mascara: Best budget mascara for sensitive eyes
Price when reviewed: £9.99 | Check price at LookFantastic
Rimmel has created its first-ever clean beauty line called Kind & Free. This range of products is 100% vegan, fragrance-free and kind to the planet. Made with 99% naturally derived ingredients, Rimmel’s first clean mascara claims to achieve voluminous lashes that last all day while delivering volume and length for up to 36 hours. This gentle conditioning formula is infused with organic shea butter and biotin, both of which are great for nourishing lashes and encouraging them to grow, too.
No one is a fan of flaky mascara. This option is superb for everyday wear, applying smoothly and achieving a natural, clump-free look with perfectly judged volume. It’s smudge and flake-proof, too, staying put even after hours of wear. Thanks to its impressively clean profile and gentle ingredients, it won’t cause irritation and comes in at an extremely reasonable price.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: No; Key ingredients: Biotin (vitamin B7); Colours: Black, brown
3. Lancôme Hypnôse Waterproof Mascara: Best waterproof mascara for sensitive lashes
Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at LookFantastic
If you’re looking for staying power and beautifully curled lashes, Lancôme’s Hypnôse mascara should be high on your shopping list. With its long-lasting waterproof formula, this mascara stays firm in any weather – and this is the reason it’s been a cult favourite for many years.
Those with sensitive eyes will often find the harsh formulas of some waterproof mascaras unsuitable, but Lancôme Hypnôse has been made from ingredients that have been ophthalmologically tested for extra peace of mind. The unique SoftSculpt formula is enriched with pro-vitamin B5, too, which leaves lashes feeling soft and supple once dry – no crunchy finish here.
Thanks to its easy-to-use precision brush, which evenly coats each lash, this mascara delivers improved length, volume and lash separation. With Lancôme Hypnôse you can achieve a dramatic wide-eyed appearance that’s perfect for an evening out or even a long day at the office.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Pro-vitamin B5; Colours: Black, brown
4. Clinique High-Impact High-Fi Full Volume Mascara: Best mascara for curling and lengthening
Price when reviewed: £27 | Check price at LookFantastic
When it comes to formulations designed for sensitive skin, you can count on Clinique; the brand ensures that all its products are tested through every stage of production. This fibre-infused mascara is no exception and is hypoallergenic, fragrance free and ophthalmologist-tested.
It’s also truly spectacular in terms of its lifting, lengthening and curling qualities – the unique wave brush combs and coats every lash individually for instant volume, while a nourishing blend of coconut, argan and moringa oils helps to condition. It’s great for layering too, allowing you to easily create the intensity that you desire.
And for a mascara that’s also budge- and smudge-proof, we found this a dream to remove with a cleansing balm and reusable cotton pad at the end of the day.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Coconut, argan and moringa oils; Colours: Black, black-brown
5. MAC Extended Play Lash Mascara Gigablack: Best long-wearing mascara for sensitive eyes
Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at LookFantastic
Any makeup bag would be incomplete without at least one product from MAC, and the Extended Play Lash mascara is a must-have. The long-lasting formula intensifies lashes, and since it’s both sweat- and humidity-proof, you can look super-glam, even while taking that spin class.
Combining its advanced lifting formula with a unique brush that features microsphere-embedded bristles, lashes are coated from root to tip, bringing definition and extra length that lasts all day.
With a seal of approval from ophthalmologists, this mascara is safe to use for sensitive eyes, and despite its refusal to budge during the day, washes off easily with warm water.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol); Colours: Black
6. Maybelline The Falsies Instant Lash Lift: Best voluminous mascara for sensitive eyes
Price when reviewed: £11 | Check price at LookFantastic
Maybelline is the UK’s number-one mascara brand, so you won’t go wrong if you choose a product from its range. If your sensitive eyes are begging you to skip the false lashes (applying lash glue is simply asking for watery, irritated eyes), opt for Maybelline’s The Falsies Instant Lash Lift Mascara, which delivers a salon-style lift effect without the tears.
With the help of the double-curved brush, the formula coats lashes for dramatic length and volume that will last all night long. Minus any flakiness or clumps, either.
Ophthalmologist-tested and infused with gentle and nourishing jojoba oil, this is definitely a mascara worth considering – and the price is right, too.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Jojoba oil; Colours: Black
7. Green People Volumising Mascara: Best organic mascara for sensitive eyes
Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at Naturismo
Many are now choosing to embrace an organic lifestyle, and this extends to makeup products too. Green People uses natural ingredients such as vitamin E, sunflower oil and organic beeswax to fortify its products, with its volumising mascara delivering all the irritation-free nourishment your lashes could wish for.
This volumising mascara contains rich, natural pigments to achieve bold and defined lashes. Its super-concentrated formula means a little goes a long way, so you won’t be standing in front of the mirror applying coat after coat. The inclusion of beeswax means that this mascara isn’t vegan, but the benefit is that it’s naturally water-repellent and less likely to smudge. It’s easy to remove at the end of the day, too.
The natural formula of this mascara has a low allergen profile, meaning it’s possible to achieve bold, dramatic lashes without irritation.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Vitamin E, beeswax; Colours: Black, brown
8. Milk Makeup Rise Mascara: Best everyday mascara for sensitive eyes
Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Space NK
Whether for the office, the school run or everything in between, an easy-to-wear waterproof mascara that glides on quickly and smoothly is your best bet for everyday wear. This formula from Milk Makeup features a nourishing blend of sunflower, candelilla and carnauba waxes and monoi oil, which coats the lashes in intense colour while conditioning them and maintaining a super-soft feel.
If you’re looking for a false-lash effect or intense volume, this mascara might be too subtle for your liking. Instead, our favourite thing about this mascara is how well it defines and separates the lashes – the wand delivers a natural-looking definition to the eyes, while the texture of the mascara is lightweight but highly pigmented. And despite being waterproof, it removes well with an oil-based cleanser and clean flannel at the end of the day.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Monoi oil and marigold extract; Colours: Black
9. Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Nourishing Mascara: Best eco-friendly mascara for sensitive eyes
Price when reviewed: £22 | Check price at Amazon
Burt’s Bees has become synonymous with “gentle” thanks to the natural ingredients found in its products. This 100% naturally formulated mascara includes cruelty-free ingredients and arrives in recycled and recyclable packaging, so you can have beautiful lashes while doing your bit for the planet. And free of parabens, phthalates, SLS, petrolatum or synthetic fragrances, it will keep sensitive eyes looking beautiful without becoming red or irritated.
Its nourishing ingredients include hydrating jojoba oil and glycerin (also found in our skin), which are gentle enough for delicate eyes but work to strengthen and condition lashes. The former is one of the most popular oils for eyelash health, rich in vitamin E. Not only will it help moisturise lashes, but it also protects the hair follicles, allowing eyelashes to grow long and thick. This mascara is easy and convenient to use and is available in black and black-brown to suit all eye colours and skin tones.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes (no synthetic fragrances); Long wearing: No; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: jojoba oil; Colours: Black, black-brown
10. Chantecaille Longest Lash Faux Cils Mascara: Best luxury mascara for sensitive eyes
Price when reviewed: £66 | Check price at LookFantastic
If you’re looking to indulge, this premium mascara from Chantecaille is a worthy contender. Rich in mineral salts, seaweed extract and soothing rosewater, this formula protects the eye area and keeps lashes nourished and healthy. With a low allergen profile, this mascara is free of parabens, phthalates and fragrances, making it ideal for sensitive eyes.
The price might make you wince, but for that money, you’re getting a mascara that delivers a super-volumising look, amplifying and defining every single lash, even the tiniest of hairs. And if that striking and bold look without smudging, clumping or flaking wasn’t enough, this 2-in-1 mascara doubles up as an eyelash-lengthening serum, too.
An innovative and powerful peptide technology stimulates eyelash growth while you’re wearing it, and it promises results after just two weeks of use.
Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: No; Key ingredients: Peptides, mineral salts, seaweed extract, rosewater; Colours: Black