Finding the best mascara for sensitive eyes sounds like a highly specific ask for a makeup product that notoriously leads people on never-ending searches. Just figuring out the best mascara in general can be tough, particularly if you want one that does it all: lengthening, volumizing, and holding a curl—all while being easy to remove and flake-free.
Because everyone’s sensitivities are different, it’s tough to make any generalizations about ingredients to avoid, but there are a few strategies you can try. Hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested mascaras are the way for some; tubing mascaras are the ticket for others, especially if mascara flakes in your contacts are the bane of your existence. Beyond not making your eyes feel like they’re watering in pain, the best mascaras for sensitive eyes should also do the stuff you actually want mascara to do, like thickening, lengthening, and defining your lashes. It’s a tall order, but here are 13 gentle formulas that truly do it all.
Clinique High Impact Mascara
Clinique has a reputation for making gentle, irritation-free makeup, and this mascara is proof. It’s ophthalmologist- and allergy-tested, mineral-oil- and fragrance-free, and safe for contact lens wearers. On top of that, it’s really freaking good, giving definition on the first swipe and drama on the second.
Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Mascara
Maybelline’s Full ‘N Soft mascara is beloved for the long, natural-looking lashes it imparts. The formula is hypoallergenic, and whereas some lengthening mascaras can leave lashes brittle and spidery, this gives you results that are as soft as the name claims.
Chanel Le Volume de Chanel
This volumizing mascara gets tons of rave reviews for the noticeable results, especially from makeup lovers with sensitive eyes. Chanel’s mascara makes good on its nonirritating reputation, thanks to its conditioning, flake-free formula.
Essence Bye Bye Panda Eyes! Mascara
If you’ve been let down by flaking, smudging formulas before, set your trust issues aside and give this drugstore gem a try. The vegan mascara features a fragrance- and oil-free formula that uses tubular fibers to impart volume and definition without any hint of stinging. Plus, it removes easily with just warm water (but still manages to stay on through a sweaty workout).
Talika Lipocils Eyelash Growth Mascara
A nonirritating mascara that also grows your lashes as you wear it? Leave it to Talika to make that magic happen. The brand makes one of the few lash serums that even the most sensitive of eyes can tolerate, and its mascara is equally gentle. The fluttery, volumizing formula helps lashes grow longer and more pigmented with consistent use.
Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara
Ilia makes so many of our beauty bag staples, and this mascara is no exception. It feels totally weightless, with a soothing boost from aloe and rosewater. The lengthening, defining wand leaves lashes with a pretty flutter.
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
Tarte’s mascara truly checks every box: It’s vegan, hypoallergenic, and ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested—so many stamps of approval. If you can’t get through the day without your eyes suffering, this conditioning and clump-free tube brings peace of mind (and tons of volume).
The holy grail of tubing mascaras, Blinc is the answer if you’ve never, ever found a mascara your eyes can stand. The brand says it’s been clinically tested to be nonirritating, while the technology means it stays on even if your eyes tear up easily. Just remove with warm water at the end of the day; while it withstands a crying session, the enveloping tubes also slide off easily when you need them to.
CoverGirl Professional Remarkable Washable Waterproof Mascara
Allow a long list of glowing Reddit reviews to introduce this affordable choice. It’s completely smudge-proof, but whereas some mascaras use harsh ingredients to lock onto your lashes, CoverGirl’s doesn’t even call for makeup remover; it easily washes away with soap and water.
Elate Essential Mascara
Elate’s gently formulated clean mascara is water- and sweat-resistant, and reviewers love how the buildable formula stays put all day long. The wand is specially designed to hug and coat your lashes, leaving no clumps or flakes behind.
Heroine Makeup Long & Curl Mascara Advanced Film
Heroine makes some of the best curl-holding mascaras on the market; apply once in the morning, and your lashes won’t even droop a centimeter come evening. Along with maintaining a curl for hours, this lengthening formula won’t shed any flakes in your eyes or cause other forms of irritation.
L’Oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Lengthening Mascara
Drugstore tubing mascaras aren’t the most common find, which is why this one has a cult following. The white end primes your lashes with a conditioning coat, while the black side builds a ton of length on top. No flakes, no irritation, no crying.
No7 Stay Perfect Mascara Black
No7’s Stay Perfect also relies on tubing technology to get the job done. The most noticeable difference is that the tubes are “elastic” and cling onto lashes extra tightly. The brush also sets it apart. It avoids clumps like a boss and grabs every lash single for a lifted cat-eye effect.