How To Remove Waterproof Mascara

Maybe I’m more prone to melting makeup in the summer because of the heat, or maybe I’ve just had enough of 20 years of smeary mascara, but I took it upon myself to tackle this issue this August. My mascara always leaves a black shadow under my eye (even though I only wear it on my top lashes) within two hours of wear. Here’s what I’m dealing with:

  • I have dry, sensitive eyes, so I blink a lot, involuntarily, in an attempt to produce more moisture. This definitely exacerbates the problem.
  • Waterproof mascara works…but I HATE how waterproof mascara applies. It’s clumpier, it dries out much faster in the tube, and it doesn’t produce the same full, long lashes as regular mascara.
  • Waterproof mascara is a total bear to remove. I lose a quarter of my lashes tugging that cotton ball across my eyes, even with the best eye makeup remover.

Any of this sound familiar? I bet the last two do. After some experimenting this past month, I’ve found a solution. It’s not perfect, but it drastically improves the life of my mascara, and the process of removing it. You will need: your favorite regular mascara, waterproof mascara, cotton balls, your best eye makeup remover, regular old lotion.


The first step comes in the application. First, apply your regular mascara. This will give you the length and volume you’re used to. Apply one to two less coats than usual. Let dry for 30ish seconds. Then apply your waterproof mascara–this offers a “seal” around the regular mascara, and won’t affect the look of your lashes. I still get a little bit of shadowing under my eyes, but far, far less, and not as soon after application. I think it’s the best it’s going to get, and I’m satisfied with that. If you have less dry eyes, this might be a perfect fix for you.


Now comes the removal. I’m sure people who are really strict about what they put on their face will be horrified by what I’m about to suggest. Oh well. Take regular old lotion (for face or for body) and smear a small amount on a cotton ball.


Apply to your closed eyes, making several soft swipes across the surface of the lid and lashes. Now. I used Aveeno‘s most basic lotion, which I believe is meant for body. Yes, I’m applying it to my face, but it won’t be there for long. Plus, you don’t want to use your really expensive facial moisturizer to remove makeup–at least I don’t, that seems like a big waste. You also need something that has oil in it, and many facial moisturizers pride themselves on being oil-free. Finally, don’t use any product that has sunscreen in it. There are few things that are more irritating to the eyes than sunscreen.


The next step is to apply the eye makeup remover to a fresh cotton ball. Apply to closed lids, making several gentle swipes across the lashes. You should notice that there is far less resistance (if any) than had you used the eye makeup remover by itself. This process also removes the oil you left from applying the lotion. Wash your face like normal.


Voila. Darn these unfocused pictures–I had to take them in my bathroom (at night) which has the world’s worst lighting. But you can see I started off with shadow, liner, and mascara in the photo at left, moved on to some traces of mascara and liner after using the lotion, and finally ended up with clean, non-irritated lids in the final picture at right.

Got any tips for tackling smeary mascara or makeup removal? Tell us about it!

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