Sensitive eye makeup remover

The 5 Best Eye Makeup Removers For Sensitive Eyes

When it comes to your getting-ready routine, applying eye makeup is the fun part. And though perhaps a less enjoyable task, removing said eye makeup is crucial. However, as anyone with sensitive eyes knows, using the wrong eye makeup remover can easily leave you burning, itching, stinging, or even swollen. To help narrow down the best eye makeup removers for sensitive eyes, Bustle spoke with Nashville-based ophthalmologist and aesthetic surgeon Dr. Melissa Toyos, who shares her tips on what to look for in a formula (and how to properly remove your eye makeup without causing irritation) below.

“Eyes are naturally more sensitive than other body parts because the skin is thinner and more delicate there than anywhere else on the body,” Dr. Toyos explains of why you may experience eye irritation so easily. “Dry eyes, allergies, and even pollution can make them more sensitive,” she notes. To keep irritation to a minimum, you’ll obviously want a makeup remover that was specially designed for the more sensitive skin around the eyes. But more specifically, Dr. Toyos says to avoid harsh cleansing ingredients, like detergents and sodium laureth sulfate. It’s also helpful to look for products that say they’ve been tested by ophthalmologists and are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.

As for how to remove your eye makeup, Dr. Toyos says to be cautious of how harshly you’re applying the remover. “Use a gentle rub,” she says. “Forceful rubbing can stretch the skin, and it releases more histamines which worsens the cycle of allergies.” If you’ve overdone it while trying to remove stubborn makeup, or allergies are the main culprit of your sensitivity, Dr. Toyos says that eye drops will help you out. “I recommend LUMIFY to reduce redness,” she says.

Ahead, you’ll find five of the best eye makeup removers for sensitive eyes on Amazon, including Dr. Toyos’ favorite method for dissolving even the most stubborn of makeup (minus the irritation).

1. The Ophthalmologist’s Pick

“I prefer oil-based removers, but only natural oils like coconut, or my favorite, cold-pressed castor oil,” Dr. Toyos notes of her go-to eye makeup remover. The Kate Blanc Cosmetics castor oil is a solid option because it’s cold-pressed from castor beans and USDA certified-organic, ensuring that it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals or questionable additives. The multitasking product can also be used to moisturize your skin and hair, and many Amazon reviewers use it to condition their brows and lashes, too. Whether used as an eye makeup remover or to promote healthier lashes, reviewers confirm it’s a gentle choice. “I have very sensitive eyes that swell easily, this product did not cause any irritation or swelling,” commented one Amazon shopper.

2. The Overall Best Eye Makeup Remover For Sensitive Skin & Eyes

For a more traditional method, this Avène Gentle Eye Makeup Remover was specifically formulated to take off makeup without irritating sensitive eyes or skin. Avène’s formula is hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested, and suitable for those who wear contact lenses. The formula has a gel-like consistency that makes it easy to apply directly over your eyes with your fingertips or onto a cotton pad first. The remover has the same pH level as tears, so it won’t sting or burn your eyes. Adding to its gentleness, the formula combines sorbitol with Avène’s own thermal spring water to soothe and hydrate the skin around your eyes, so they feel soft instead of irritated or dry post-cleansing.

3. The Best Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover For Sensitive Skin & Eyes

For a more heavy-duty makeup remover that can wipe away waterproof mascara and eyeliner with ease, there’s this pick from La Roche-Posay. The bi-phase formula contains a water-based cleanser and gentle oils that are combined together when you shake the bottle to tackle stubborn makeup sans irritation. To ensure its safety for both sensitive eyes and skin, the fragrance-free remover has been ophthalmologist- and allergy-tested.

4. The Best Budget-Friendly Makeup Remover For Sensitive Skin & Eyes

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the Cetaphil Gentle Makeup Remover is less than $5. It’s another bi-phase formula that gets activated when you shake the bottle to better dissolve makeup (though this one is oil-free), and it’s formulated with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, ginseng, and green tea. While it’s important to note that this remover does contain benzyl alcohol, which can be irritating to some, it’s still a solid eye makeup remover that’s been ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested. It’s also hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, so you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores if you want to use it to remove makeup from your entire face, too.

5. The Best Micellar Water For Sensitive Skin & Eyes

Micellar water-devotees will be glad to know that Bioderma’s cult-favorite Sensibio H2O cleansing water was formulated specifically with sensitive skin in mind (and it’s super gentle on eyes, too). This remover doesn’t dry out skin because the fatty acid esters that form the makeup- (and dirt- and oil)-removing micelles are similar to the phospholipids that naturally fortify the skin. Because it has the consistency of water, it’s best used with cotton pads. And this bottle is big, so you can plan on it lasting you a while. You can even use it to cleanse your entire face, and it leaves skin feeling soft instead of stripped.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle’s editorial and sales departments.

Experts: Dr. Melissa Toyos, board-certified ophthalmologist, facial cosmetic surgeon, researcher, lecturer, and Partner and Director of Research at Toyos Clinic.

The Best Waterproof Makeup Removers, According to Incredibly Choosy Reviewers

The products below would make quick work of Adwoa Aboah’s Versus Versace look; Image: Imaxtree

It’s a question that’s plagued mankind for decades: Why is it impossible for makeup to stay put prior to dates, interviews, weddings or any other occasion where an immaculate cat eye/highlight/red lip would be nice and yet just as impossible to remove said makeup when it’s time to rest our heads against blessedly clean pillowcases?

Regardless, your struggles are now at an end. Your days of drawn-out cleansing, washing and rubbing (which can be pretty rough on the delicate skin surrounding your eyes and ultimately cause wrinkles) are behind you. There are plenty of gentle yet powerful waterproof makeup removers on the market — formulas that’ll remove your tough, long-wearing mascara without painfully blinding you temporarily, that’ll gently sweep away even the darkest of dark lips with little to no effort, that cater to all skin concerns and eye sensitivity levels — and we’ve rounded them up for you.

Click through the gallery below to shop 12 of the absolute best waterproof makeup removers out there, according to industry insiders and reviews by makeup lovers like you, who endured many a day-old raccoon eye before finally landing on their hero product. (Note: the aforementioned reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

We all know that removing our makeup every night is important, but it’s just as important to ensure you’re using something separate for your eyes. But which eye makeup removers work the best?

Our eyes are very delicate, and so pulling at them with a rough wipe or harsh cleanser will not only damage the skin over time but can also cause irritation to the eyeball.

So, the Good Housekeeping Institute set out to find the best eye makeup removers on the market, which are not only gentle, but get rid of even the most stubborn mascara.

Here are the ones that came out on top…

Garnier Fresh Eye Make-up Remover, £3.29, available from Boots

This eye makeup remover was a big hit for its cool and refreshing texture. It leaves no oily residue and easily removes stubborn makeup.

For a full review, visit the GHI website.


Charlotte Tilbury Take It All Off Eye Make-up Remover, £24, available from House of Fraser

Our tests revealed that this remover is speedy at makeup removal while being gentle on sensitive eyes.

For a full review, visit the GHI website.

Amie Bright Eyes Very Gentle Eye Make-up Remover, £4.75, available from Amazon

Testers liked Amie’s option as it had a pleasant scent while being non-irritating on the eyes.

For a full review, visit the GHI website.

Marks & Spencer Daily Care Eye Make-Up Remover Fluid Sensitive Skin, £3.50

While it’s not suitable for the most sensitive eyes, this Marks & Spencer eye makeup remover was great at completely removing every bit of makeup.

For a full review, visit the GHI website.


Nivea Daily Essentials Extra Gentle Eye Make-up Remover, £1.79, available from Boots

This remover worked well at removing eye makeup while leaving peepers with a fresh and clean after-feel.

For a full review, visit the GHI website.

Quickies Eye Make-up Remover Pads, £2.09, available from Superdrug

Quickies’s Eye Makeup Remover Pads came up tops out of all the wipes we tested. It was effective on stubborn makeup without leaving oily residue behind.

For a full review, visit the GHI website.


(Main image: Getty)

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Soothing Eye Makeup Remover

Soothing Eye Makeup Remover by Renée Rouleau works to whisk away stubborn eye makeup while providing maximum comfort to sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. This formula has a pH of 7.2 which has a similar pH of your own natural tears to prevent stinging and unnecessary irritation. Oil-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free and fragrance-free. Your sensitive eyes will feel relaxed and comfortable and your vision will not be blurred. The result? Easy and comfortable eye makeup removal with no irritation.

Size: 6 fl oz

“It breaks down makeup right away—no soaking required.”

Is this product right for you?

Take our Skin Type Quiz to learn which products are recommended for your skin.

See all Renée Rouleau products.

Key Ingredients

  • Polysorbate 20 – coconut-derived cleansing agent.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – gentle cleansing agent.
  • Benzalkonium Chloride – antimicrobial preservative.

“Eyes burn after removing your makeup? Not with Soothing Eye Makeup Remover. It is both mighty and gentle.”

Formulated WITHOUT

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Sulfates
  • Oil
  • Synthetic Fragrances
  • Synthetic Dyes
  • Gluten

Vegan. Never tested on animals. Certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.

  • How it Feels / Smells / Looks

    • Clear, water-like and fragrance-free.
  • Ingredients

    • Purified Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Benzalkonium Chloride, Sodium Borate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol (antimicrobial preservative), Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier). To learn more about choosing a product based on its ingredients, read this post.
  • How to Use

    • To effectively use Soothing Eye Makeup Remover to gently dissolve away eye makeup for sensitive eyes: saturate one a Renée Rouleau Toning Cloth or cotton pad and hold over eyes for 10-15 seconds to melt eye makeup. Wipe gently. Rinse eyes with lukewarm water, if desired.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    • Can I use this product if I’m pregnant? Yes. There are no ingredients in this product deemed unsafe to use during pregnancy.
    • Where can I buy this product? Our products are sold exclusively at
    • Is this product tested on animals? No. We are certified with Leaping Bunny as a cruelty-free company.
    • What is the pH level of this product? The pH level of Soothing Eye Makeup Remover is 7.5.
    • Where are your products made? Our products are manufactured in the U.S. and Canada.
    • I took your Skin Type Quiz and was wondering if I can use products that weren’t specified for my skin type? Yes. While the skin type product recommendations are carefully selected for the needs of a specific type of skin to give the best results, many people will modify their routine with other products as needed.
    • I have questions about my skin, where can I get help? Email us and we would be happy to provide expert advice!
  • As Seen In

    • D Magazine Shop Talk
    • Women’s Health
    • Refinery29

The question

Eye-makeup remover always stings my (very sensitive) eyes. Can you recommend one that is gentle and works?

The answer

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There are plenty of options that are both gentle and effective.

The first is a DIY approach, so open up your pantry and bring on the natural oils. Coconut or olive oil will do wonders when it comes to breaking down all kinds of makeup; to remove any excess oil left on your skin, use a touch of your usual cleanser to finish up.

If you’re looking for an off-the-shelf option, Kiehl’s Supremely Gentle Eye Makeup Remover is great, thanks to its apricot-kernel-oil and beta-carotene-packed formula. This lotion will dissolve your eyeliner, mascara and more without the sting of your current remover.

There are other great removers on the market, but you need to do some homework to distinguish them from the not-so-great ones.

Here’s a handy tip: Pick up the bottle and look at the ingredients list. You might spot sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. This is a common ingredient in cleansing formulas, but it is known to irritate eyes and skin, especially the delicate parts. If you see it listed in the ingredients, put down the bottle and walk away.

Bahar Niramwalla is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert who has appeared on CTV, Global TV and City. Follow her on Twitter: @baharniramwalla. Have a beauty question? E-mail [email protected]

Q: What’s the best eye-makeup remover for sensitive eyes?

A: It sounds counterintuitive, but the best option for cutting through the smokiest of eye makeup is an oil-based remover. Unfortunately they leave a greasy slick on your eyelid. For people with sensitive eyes, the leftover sludge can run into the eyeball or cling to lashes, causing irritation unless also washed off with water. As an alternative you can try Almay’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads. The hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cotton pads remove the most stubborn shadows, liners, and mascara with just a couple easy swipes. Waterproof mascaras will take a little more coaxing, but the blend of green tea, camellia, and aloe leaves skin feeling soft and hydrated without a trace of residue. The pads can even rub directly against eyeballs (to get to that tough, lash-hugging inner liner) without causing any redness.

If you prefer a liquid option, try Klorane’s Soothing Eye Make-Up Remover with cornflower water (there’s a version for waterproof makeup too), a mainstay backstage during fashion week. Saturate one cotton ball and place over eyelids, then gently wipe off all makeup. Because the pH of it actually matches your tears, you will feel no pain, promise. You can also use a Q-tip doused in the liquid to remove any makeup that has gravitated into corneas.

(links marked * are affiliate links, for more info see disclaimer below post)

My eyes don’t particularly like it when I wear a lot of makeup. Killjoys! They’ve always been a bit whiney and sensitive when it comes to being caked in powder shadows, rimmed in kohl pencil and battered about with a spiky mascara wand. I remember the tears that streamed down my face on my very first modelling shoot – I wasn’t crying because I had experienced a premonition of the years to come, standing in the freezing cold wearing nothing but a pair of “concept dungarees” (don’t) and five inch Louboutins, I was crying because my eyes were rejecting every single molecule of makeup that dared go anywhere near them.

When you think about it, you can’t really blame eyes for being sensitive. They’re a) really important and necessary body parts but b) at the same time really delicate and vulnerable. Jelly orbs with easily pierced surfaces. Squishy blobs with intricate lenses. And they’re just sitting there in the fronts of our heads, like little spherical aliens riding side by side in their alien spaceship. Nothing between them and the outside world apart from eyelids which – let’s be honest – aren’t exactly the most robust form of protection. So imagine being this little alien with a jelly skin and then people coming at you with pointy pencils and mascara wands that look like instruments of torture. Wanging about big brushes that throw coloured pigment all over you and then painting jet black lines in your “waterline” – GO AWAY! – and then, introducing the biggest monstrosity of all, the thing that would strike fear into any jelly alien’s heart: the Gargantuan Iron Clamp.

I rarely curl my lashes with an eyelash curler and that’s mostly out of principal. I hated it so much when I was a jobbing model that I swore I would never do it voluntarily. And although I appreciate the eye-lifting effects of a properly curled lash, I don’t want or need those effects enough to put myself through the anguish of clamping my fragile lashes between two metal jaws. The number of times my eyelids were pinched! Good God. Horrendous. It’s the female equivalent of getting a bit of willy stuck in a trouser zip.

I digress: eyes. My eyes don’t like lots of makeup and they especially hate it being taken back off again. So I’ve tried loads and loads of makeup removers in the attempt to find ones that are gentle but that still remove stubborn makeup.

(I love the phrase “stubborn makeup”.

– Lisa Lipstick, you get in for your tea RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

– Shan’t!

– I’ll melt you down in the bleeding slow cooker you little sod!)

Here are the cleansers that will treat your eyes as they were meant to be treated – great for those with sensitive skin, for contact lens wearers or indeed anyone who wants gentle makeup removal. With all of these products, soak the cotton wool pad and hold over your eye area for at least ten seconds before trying to wipe. It reduces the amount of times you have to rub your eyes and gives the cleansers time to dissolve the makeup.

Exhibit A: La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, £11 here*

This stuff is the absolute business. The bi-phase formula (oily and watery parts that you shake together) gets off waxy mascara as well as liner and long-lasting shadows but it doesn’t irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes or the ‘balls themselves. (Can one shorten eyeballs to “balls” in a sentence where you’ve already used up your “eye” quota? Let’s see if it catches on.)

LRP also do a genius little product in their Toleriane range; the Monodose makeup remover. This one is for the very sensitive and it contains no preservatives, so each dose of liquid is packaged in a one-use, sterile capsule. Not the most eco-friendly packaging, admittedly, but it would be hard to see how you’d dispense this any differently. If you really have very intolerant skin and have to minimise possible triggers then this makeup remover is brilliant. It won’t do heavy-duty makeup or difficult mascaras but for everyday, light makeup usage it’s the dream. Find it at Escentual here* – £15 for 30 individual doses.

Exhibit B: Talika Gentle Eye Cleanser, £21 at Space NK here*

This one, like the Monodoses, won’t cut through very heavy eye makeup but it’s so gentle and soothing that it’s well worth a try for those who wear their cosmetics in non-industrial amounts. I’ve just realised that I reviewed this years ago – I’ve repurchased a few times since then and I still haven’t found anything to replace it with. I find it every so slightly more soothing than the LRP one (Exhibit A) but it’s more expensive and not nearly as powerful. Swings and roundabouts!

Exhibit C: B Stubborn Makeup Remover, £7.99 at Superdrug here*

This sexy beast of a remover is currently half price – £3.95 – which makes it even more exciting. It’s not specifically formulated for sensitive eyes and skin but I find it absolutely fine – most strong removers make little red patches flare up on my undereyes but nothing like that here. No greasy residue, no irritation, just incredibly effective makeup removal. If your eyes are less tolerant than mine then LRP may be your way forward, but this stuff is cheap as chips and really worth a try if you’re watching your pennies.

Right, I feel as though I’ve exhausted this topic for the moment. Aliens, clamps, torture instruments and lipstick murders… If you’re after a great eye cream for sensitive skin then I can highly recommend the Echium one from Pai, here.

Soothing Skincare for Sensitive Eyes

The £80 Eye Mask Dupe

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