I suffered from cosmetic allergies for many years and have done expensive research to find the right makeup for me. I hope this helps you!
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, there were 5,144 consumer complaints submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration between 2004 and 2016, regarding adverse effects from personal care and beauty products, including eye makeup.
You might have been stung by the bad beauty bug yourself. I was too. But after years of suffering from stinging, watery, and even painful eyes, I have found what has turned out, for me, to be the best makeup for sensitive eyes.
Below are my product recommendations and what I regularly use for mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, and foundation. These are all based on personal trial and error.
I used to be able to wear all cosmetic products and brands of makeup with no ocular problems, but that changed when I was about 33, and even more so after I started wearing contact lenses.
One night, after about 20 minutes of putting my cosmetics on for a night out with friends, my eyes began to feel irritated, itchy, and after about an hour I had painful pressure, stinging and redness in my eyes. My night was ruined, but more importantly, that was the beginning of an expensive three-year search for non-irritating cosmetics.
But I found what has worked for me, and I hope these cosmetics are the answer to your beauty prayers too. After all, beauty shouldn't sting.
The Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes
After a long and difficult search of many popular mascara brands I chose La Roche-Posay Toleriane Waterproof Mascara.
- It has given me no eye irritation whatsoever. Lashes have a moist, glossy look and won't clump.
- Waterproof. This is a difficult feature to find in mascara formulations if you have sensitivity in your eye area. If you are prone to occasional tears, like me, this mascara will help you keep those raccoon eyes away.
- No flaking. Mascara that flakes often gets into the corners of the eyes and aggravates ocular tissue. This used to be a big problem for me because I also wear contacts. And I would tend to get tiny clumps of mascara sitting behind the lens as well. Not a problem with this formula!
- Three-dimensional coverage for thick lashes using a perfectly sized applicator.
- Contains no fragrances or parabens.
- Ophthalmologist and allergy-tested for user safety.
Sensitive Eye Poll
The Best Eye Shadow For Sensitive Eyes
My pick is the Jane Iredale Naturally Matte Eyeshadow Kit as it comes with five neutral colors that work for year-round looks. It's been hard for me to find full kits like this designed for sensitive eyes, but I especially love it because I sometimes apply one color on my lid, or blend them for a unique look. I like to blend the included colors as follows:
Palette Left to right:
- Buttercream (creamy neutral, great for the brow bone area for shaping effects, and as a base shade)
- Hush (baby pink, ideal for the lid)
- Slate Brown (greyish brown, perfect for the outer crease)
- Eggplant (rosy brown, ideal for the lid)
- Fudge (deep cocoa, another great color for the outer crease area)
The best benefits of this palette are:
- No allergic reaction experienced. This might be due to the limited amount of carefully mixed ingredients this palette has compared to many commercial brands.
- Comes in a mirrored compact. I touch up my eye shadow anywhere!
- Comes with a quad eye shadow applicator. I notice many eye shadow palettes are leaving the applicators out these days. I don't enjoy having to remember to carry them separately!
- Matte colors for daytime -- perfect for school and work, where shiny colors are out of place or discouraged. This line of kits is also available with shine for evening wear, such as the Naturally Glam version.
- Long wear -- I have not had to touch up the eye shadow even after hours of wear. The colors do not fade into my skin.
I find this kit to be ideal for me because I am not always skilled at blending separate eye shadow colors. In the past I've have favorite colors across different brands, but using them together does not always look right. This palette already comes with all the complementary colors necessary for blending and creating that put-together look!
The Best Eyeliner for Sensitive Eyes
Although I've tried a number of sensitive formula eyeliners, I found Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner to be extra-gentle.
- While Intense Black is a popular choice, I chose the dark brown shade to better complement my fair skin tone.
- This eyeliner's extra thin micro-tip makes it easier for me to apply the makeup without overdrawing or drawing my lines too thick, helping prevent slipping the tip onto sensitive eye tissue.
- The formula is waterproof to help prevent concerns with eye flare-ups.
- Although I was originally concerned about trying a liquid eyeliner because I was worried about streaks, this product has a smudge-free and run-free formula, and stayed securely on my lid exactly where I applied it.
- The thin tip also allows me to paint eyeliner between my lashes, also making my eyelashes appear larger before applying mascara.
- I had no eye irritation from any fumes or ingredients or chemical reactions on my skin or mucus membranes.
- The tube is narrow, so I found it easier to grasp as it has a smaller barrel to hold on to.
- Because this product goes on smoothly it helped prevent any skin irritation by not stretching my eyelid.
- If you enjoy night clubs or parties the fine drawing tip will allow you to make artful eye designs with precision to help you stand out.
This Stila eyeliner is an overall good choice because you can glide on as much or as little product as you need, for both casual and extravagant evening looks.
The Best Foundation for Sensitive Eyes
You might be surprised to see foundation listed. But since you apply it all over your face, including right outside your eyes, your eyes can become inflamed very easily if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product or your eyes react to the subtle fumes in the makeup. This means the product never has to actually get in your eye area to affect you.
Origins Stay Tuned Balancing Face Makeup
- I cannot say enough good things about this foundation. Least of all is that I experienced no eye irritation from it.
- From a cosmetic point of view, this product is amazing. I have large pores, and this foundation actually makes my face look smooth and almost non-porous. I will use this for life.
- Doesn't feel cakey on the skin.
Overall Popular Brands
Users on makeup review sites have commented that the following brands have helped prevent ocular irritation:
- Jane Iredale
- Prescriptives (now only available online)
- Dr. Hauschka
- La Roche-Posay
- Physicians Formula
Tip: If you are trying to save money on cosmetics, it can be helpful to buy cheaper lipstick and lip liner since they will not affect your eyes. This will allow you to splurge on suitable eye makeup.
- To see if any makeup product bothers your eyes, wear it by itself in your home for a few hours. This way you can distinguish if it will affect you or not. If you have luck, try sticking to the same line for your next cosmetic purchase. And so on.
- You can develop an eye allergy to a cosmetic at any time, even after years of use.
- The products I recommend are not guaranteed to not irritate your eyes. Everyone responds differently to cosmetic ingredients. The information in this article is based on personal experience only.
- I do not have medical experience and suggest you speak to your eye doctor before applying new cosmetics if you have a medical condition.
Why Do Some Cosmetics Irritate the Eyes?
The Food & Drug Administration recognizes over 10,000 possible ingredients in cosmetics. While beauty companies and the FDA try to do a good job to ensure safety, there is simply no way to ensure all ingredients will be comfortable for all wearers. I have found in my experience that the cheaper cosmetics are the worst culprits. I consider my makeup to be a small investment to help me both look and feel good!
I hope these suggestions work for you and allow you to wear makeup freely again!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I determine which makeup won't irritate my eyes? Which brands do you trust?
Answer: The best gauge for sensitivity as far as makeup is your own experience. I only trust the brands I listed in my article.
Question: Any recommendations for a concealer for someone with sensitive skin/eyes?
Answer: Yes, this is the concealer I use: https://amzn.to/2RoqrSH
Question: Do you have any recommendations for makeup remover?
Answer: If you don't mind a little grease, try olive oil or coconut oil from your kitchen. Dip a cotton swab in some and smooth it over the areas around your eyes that have makeup.
© 2013 Stove And Home
Stove And Home (author) on December 25, 2014:
Thanks! And Merry Christmas!
Maria on December 24, 2014:
I am unable to read artciles online very often, but I'm glad I did today. This is very well written and your points are well-expressed. Please, don't ever stop writing.
Stove And Home (author) on April 15, 2014:
Thanks, funny how things change!
moonlake from America on April 14, 2014:
Good information. I use to be the same could wear anything I can no longer do that. Voted up on your hub.