Waterproof mascara is a lifesaver when pool or beach weather rolls around, keeping your lashes lush and curled for hours while you’re in and out of the water. But it’s not just when you’re having summertime fun! Waterproof mascara is also amazing when you’ve got a long day at school or work, especially if you have a workout planned. And let’s face it, the last thing you want after dedicating a chunk of your day to doing your makeup is messy mascara. But what makes waterproof mascara smudge-free and longer can also make it tough to remove.
Knowing how to get off waterproof mascara without makeup remover can be challenging, which makes it very tempting to leave it on overnight. But don't! We’ll show you the best way to get off waterproof mascara that won’t pull out your lashes.
For thicker, lusher eyelashes that hold up when you’re swimming or even just out on the town, waterproof mascara is one way to go. But as much as we love wearing it, we hate removing it.
Waterproof mascara is typically formulated with waxes and silicone-based ingredients, which grip onto lashes for smudge-free staying power. Those ingredients are resilient against water in all its forms. They do their job so well that they don’t know when to call it a day. How ironic, right?
Before we show you how to get off waterproof mascara, let’s talk a bit about something many people don’t know: how difficult or easy it is to remove it can depend on how it’s applied. Yep, that’s right! Proper application can make removing waterproof mascara easier at the end of the night. Here are some quick tips for applying perfect waterproof mascara—so it stays on when you want it on and comes off when you don’t:
Use a lash primer. A primer creates a smooth surface for your mascara. It also helps prevent clumps and protect your lashes from breaking.
Apply regular mascara as a base coat. Using a base coat can make removing it easier at the end of the night. Use regular mascara for your base coat—it can also help make your eyelashes look fuller.
Choose a multipurpose waterproof mascara. Not all waterproof mascaras are created equal! You might try one that volumizes, nourishes, and strengthens your lashes.
Brush lashes with a spoolie. Declump and remove excess mascara using a spoolie. A spoolie looks like a little mascara brush, but it’s actually an eyebrow shaping tool with a tapered head and soft bristles.
Removing regular mascara can be challenging—but waterproof mascara even more so. Most likely, you’re using waterproof makeup to give the appearance of longer thicker lashes. So, the last thing you want is to damage them when taking off your mascara.
Here are some tips on how to take off waterproof mascara naturally without pulling out any eyelashes:
Be gentle. Eyelashes and lash follicles are delicate, so the last thing you want to do is pull or tug when removing your mascara. This is one step in makeup removal where you definitely want to take your time.
Soak. Gently press a cotton pad soaked in eye makeup remover over your eye area for a few seconds. Make sure you saturate your lashes so the makeup remover has time to dissolve the mascara. Wipe from the base of your lashes to the tips.
Don’t scrub. Scrubbing the last bits of mascara off can be tempting. But don’t do it! Scrubbing can irritate your skin and leave it inflamed.
Use a cotton swab or a reusable pad. Saturate a swab or pad in makeup remover to remove the last bits of mascara on your eyelids and under your eyes.
Try micellar water. Micellar water is cleansing water with a silky gel texture that hydrates as it removes stubborn makeup. Simply dampen a cotton ball or reusable pad and hold it over your lashes for three seconds before wiping away. (We love micellar water, so we created a micellar water for our own!)
Not necessarily. It really depends on the ingredients in the specific products and if you’re sensitive to any of them. Waterproof formulas can contain additional ingredients that make them resilient to water but can potentially lead to irritation for some people.
They’re advertised as long-lasting and wear-resistant; however, they could be adding more than you’d like to your eye makeup. Some may include ingredients like fluorine and potentially per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). These have been associated with negative effects on both humans and the environment.²,³ That said, keep in mind that this is still an ongoing area of research!
This just highlights why it can be important to read—and read up on—the ingredients in your hair, makeup, and skincare products.¹
You can! It’s really a personal preference. The important thing to remember is that you should take it off at the end of the day. So, make it easy on yourself and apply waterproof mascara following the tips above—it makes removing it much easier. You can always switch it up by using regular mascara from time to time to give your lashes a break. But when you go back to using waterproof mascara, remember to use our tips to remove your eye makeup without tugging.
The waxes and silicones that make waterproof mascara smudge-proof and worry-free—in and out of the water—may also dry out your lashes. Lashes coated in mascara can catch on your pillowcase and bend or snap as you toss and turn, not only breaking your lashes but also smudging your pillowcase.
Waterproof mascara can also potentially cause eye irritation. Certain ingredients in waterproof mascara can be irritating for some. So, always remove your eye makeup at the end of the day.
When it comes to removing makeup, especially hard-to-remove waterproof mascara, yes, it’s generally fine to use oil to cleanse the area. While there are some definite pros, there can also be cons. It’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, so what works well for one person might not work well for another. Even if oil is one of the easiest ways to remove waterproof mascara, it might not be the best for you.
Oil can make mascara removal easy without rubbing or tugging at your lashes.
Oil can also remove makeup from your face just as easily.
You only need a dab, about the size of a pea, for your eyes and face.
Certain oils (like coconut oil) can clog pores, leading to breakouts.⁴
It might leave the skin feeling oily or get in your eyes and cause irritation.
Oil can be messy and leave a greasy residue.
Here are some ways to remove waterproof mascara more naturally:
Baby shampoo. Dampen a cotton pad or cotton ball with baby shampoo—you only need a pea-sized amount. Wipe off mascara from the base of the eyelashes toward the tips. Be sure to rinse your face with lukewarm water afterward.
Micellar water. We already mentioned this one, but the truth is it’s a great makeup remover. The best part is that you don’t need to rinse it off, so it can save a step in your nightly skincare routine.
Jojoba oil or mineral oil. Just as you would use baby oil, you can also use either of these. Both are non-comedogenic, which means neither will clog your pores. The only difference is that you’ll need to hold the dampened cotton round over your eye for at least a few seconds. That way, the oil has a chance to break up the mascara. Then wipe away in an outward motion. Be sure to rinse with warm water and use a cleanser to remove any excess.
(Certain) makeup wipes: These are designed to remove makeup and are efficient, but some contain alcohol, which can be potentially irritating. So, if you’re using a makeup remover wipe, make sure it’s alcohol-free and avoid over-scrubbing. Also, use a cleanser afterward to ensure your face is really clean.
At Curology, we’re committed to providing accessible skincare to all. Explore our blog to access our not-so-secret vault with informative guides on applying and removing makeup, which products are best, and how to incorporate makeup into your skincare routine.
If you want more info, check out our no-breakout makeup series:
And if you ever have questions, feel free to reach out! We’re always happy to help.
Waterproof mascara is typically formulated with waxes and silicone-based ingredients, which grip onto lashes for smudge-free staying power. Those ingredients are resilient against water in all its forms.
Waterproof formulas can contain additional ingredients that make them resilient to water but can potentially lead to irritation for some people. They’re advertised as long-lasting and wear-resistant; however, they could be adding more than you’d like to your eye makeup.
The waxes and silicones that make waterproof mascara may also dry out your lashes. Lashes coated in mascara can catch on your pillowcase and bend or snap as you toss and turn, not only breaking your lashes but also smudging your pillowcase.
When it comes to removing makeup, especially hard-to-remove waterproof mascara, yes, it’s generally fine to use oil to cleanse the area but It’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, so what works well for one person might not work well for another.
Schmalenberg, K., et al. Ocular Tolerance and Fiber Strengthening of a Waterproof Mascara with Rice Protein. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2010, March 1).
Heather D. Whitehead, et al. Fluorinated Compounds in North American Cosmetics. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. (2021).
Harvard School of Public Health. Are There Toxins in Your Mascara? (2021, June).
Francis A. &, Shojan, A. Comedogenicity of Oils. International Journal of Contemporary Medical Research. (2019, August).
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Kristen Jokela, NP-C