How to apply makeup to sensitive eyes

Watery, irritable, itchy eyes. Suddenly highly sensitive eyes is a common complaint and something our editor, Rebecca has recently been experiencing. So, she went to investigate…

“It never used to happen to me but I swear one day I woke up and my eyes hated anything that came near them. I put it down to hayfever (also a sudden onset?!) but it persisted long after the itchy nose eased. It quickly became apparent that the days I was sans mascara were also the tear-free days-  the culprit could only be that wonderful wand that helped make my eyes look half-awake every morning. Was this the end of mascara and me? Had I become sensitive to all eye makeup? Thankfully, no says Creator & Director of Education and Marketing at ELES Cosmetics, Liane Scior. Liane helped me in my hour of need and I’m glad to report that there are products and application methods out there that mean myself and fellow watery-eyed friends can still primp our peepers. Put down the tissues and read on if you can relate…

Rebecca O’Hearn.


Why does my mascara run or irritate my eyes when it never used to?

There are many reasons why this can happen; as we age our tear ducts are not as effective which can lead to dry irritated eyes, contact lens wearers sometimes suffer from increased sensitivity, your allergic response may increase due to repeated exposure to a certain ingredients or you might be keeping your mascaras too long and the ingredients are compromised.

Other factors include dust, pollen or exposure to pets and of course spending all day in an air-conditioned office while staring at a computer screen.


What type of products are best for sensitive eyes and what ingredients should I avoid?

Avoid fibre mascaras as the fibres may drop into your eyes throughout the day and irritate the eyes. Opt instead for simple pH-balanced formulas with soothing ingredients that don’t flake or clump.

Tubing mascara, which forms ‘tubes’ around the lashes can be great for those that suffer panda eyes. While they are waterproof, they are easy to remove and don’t require harsh rubbing.

Water-soluble mascaras are the best, they are easy to remove and great for contact lens wearers.

In a nutshell mascaras with as simple a formula as possible, containing fewer potential irritants; natural waxes and clays are best and ingredients such as Panthenol which will condition the lashes and soothe rather than irritate. Stick to black rather than brightly coloured mascara and always look out for fragrance-free products.

Good make-up hygiene is a must if you suffer from dry, sensitive eyes. Mascaras should be replaced every three months and never add water to mascara, it can easily harbour bacteria.


Apart from specific products, is there an application technique to prevent further irritation?

Avoid the root of the lashes and instead apply several coats to the lash tips. For an extra boost without over-loading your lashes with product, it’s worth investing in an eyelash curler.


Mascaras formulated for sensitive eyes (as pictured above):

La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Mascara $29.95

Eye of Horus Goddess Mascara Black $34.95

ELES Sensitive Eyes Mascara $38


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