How To Safely Remove Waterproof Mascara

If you've ever worn waterproof mascara before, you're probably well aware of how stubborn it can be to take off. The waterproof version of the makeup staple is a total godsend for those who suffer from a number of eye issues, like watery eyes or oily lids and under eyes that cause regular mascara to smudge, but, boy, can it be tough to get off when you're heading to bed. All too often you end up with a smudgy panda eye mess, which means having to rub and tug at your eyes to get the darn stuff off. And trust us, that's not a good move at all. In fact, rubbing around the eye area is one of the very worst things you can do for super-sensitive skin.


Too much rubbing around the eye can have a number of negative effects. According to Plano, it could cause a reduction in the skin's elasticity (which could result in an increase in fine lines), dark under-eye circles due to ruptured blood vessels, and even the potential for an eye infection. Not to mention, when you don't use chemicals such as eye makeup remover around your eyes safely and properly, that too can leave your eyes open to infection and feeling super sore. So what's the right way to take off waterproof mascara? Follow our step-by-step guide to keep your eyes and the surrounding skin as healthy as can be.

Soak a cotton pad with eye makeup remover

When it comes time to take off your waterproof mascara, one of the best ways to do it is to get your hands on specific eye makeup remover. There are plenty out there, with many of the liquids even stating on the bottle that they've been specifically created to remove waterproof mascara. While makeup remover face wipes are great for the rest of the face (when you follow it up with proper skincare, of course!) the big benefit of an eye makeup remover is that it's specifically designed for the eye area. Face wipes are intended for, you guessed it, the face, and many areas on the face have different needs to the skin around the eyes. Using wipes can also mean you'll have to scrub pretty hard at the eyes to get the product off — which isn't good.


To start the removal process, soak a cotton pad in eye makeup remover. A cotton pad is particularly great for this because it's so delicate, so it won't be tugging too much on the eye area. A 100% cotton pad is better than the alternatives, as it's less likely to break up and leave fluffy parts on your lashes or even in your eyes. How much makeup remover you put on the pad depends on how much waterproof mascara you have on and how stubborn it is to remove, though the pad should be wet to the touch.

Let the cotton pad soak on the eye

Many people apply their cotton pad soaked in eye makeup remover to their closed eye for a couple of seconds and then instantly start rubbing and dragging it over the eye. And that usually results in the mascara not coming off so easily, resulting in a whole lot of smudged mascara and even more dragging and pulling. If that sounds like you (no shame, we've all been there) then stop what you're doing immediately. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Jow Libby told Women's Health, the skin around the eyelid is 80% thinner than it is on other parts of the body, so it needs to be treated very delicately.


Instead of going straight to the dreaded pulling of the cotton pad over the eye (which, as we know, can damage the eye area), allow the soaked cotton pad to just sit over the closed eye for around 30 seconds. The longer the pad is in direct contact with the eye, the more the makeup remover will get to work breaking down the waterproof mascara, making it much easier to remove. You can also try softly rubbing the pads in circles to really help the process along. We'd suggest only removing the makeup from one eye at a time though so you can still see what you're doing.

Gently swipe the cotton pad downward or toward the outer eye

After your 30 seconds of soaking is up, gently (and we mean gently!) it's time to wipe away the mascara. Wipe the pad downwards over the lashes and away from the eye. Just try not to pull out your lashes and keep as much residue and product out of the eye as possible. Though eye makeup remover and waterproof mascara are designed to be safe for that area, you still don't want either to come into too much contact with the eyeball. Don't be too worried if there's a single lash on your pad; It's pretty normal for one to five of your lashes to fall out every day. Any more than that though and you could be being too forceful with your makeup removal, or you may want to check with your doctor to ensure they're not dropping out due to a more serious reason. If your mascara isn't coming off easily, let the cotton pad sit a little longer. You could also try applying a little more makeup remover, as you may not have applied enough for the amount of mascara you have on. 


Once the mascara is off the lashes, there may still be some smudging around the eye. You can clean this up with a new pad of makeup remover or a Q-tip. Just practice the same gentle motion you did before — no tugging!

Then practice good skincare around the eye

Believe it or not, safely removing your waterproof mascara doesn't actually stop once all the mascara is gone. Just as important as how you take off the makeup product is how you take care of your eyes, and your skin in general, afterward.


You'll want to follow your regular skincare routine after taking off your mascara, cleansing and moisturizing the face, as well as adding in any extra steps that work for you. The most important part for the eyes though? A good eye cream. "The skin around the eye contour area is up to seven times thinner than the rest of the face and has less sebaceous glands, meaning it's more prone to collagen and elastin loss and dehydration as well as dark circles and puffiness too," Pfeffer Sal salon founder Andrea Pfeffer told Standard. "This is why there are tailored products for eyes, it has very different needs to the rest of your skin." The eye cream for you will be dependent on any skincare needs you have in that area, such as dark circles or fine lines. But at the very least, after taking off your mascara, you'll want something that keeps your eyelid and undereye well hydrated to stop the eye makeup remover from drying your skin out. After all, dry eye skin could potentially get more irritated by makeup removal products.


Finish with an eyelash serum to keep your lashes healthy

There are also steps you can take to keep your eyelashes healthy following waterproof makeup removal. There are a number of eyelash serums on the market that could potentially make your lashes less brittle, many of which contain things like peptides and amino acids and are designed to encourage longer darker lashes. "Many over-the-counter eyelash serums work by hydrating and strengthening lashes so they appear a little fuller and are less likely to break," board-certified dermatologist and member of the Canadian Dermatology Association, Dr. Monica Li, explained to Chatelaine. That will work in your favor when it comes to waterproof mascara removal because the stronger your lashes are, the better they'll hold up when it comes to taking off even the toughest waterproof mascara.


But remember that lash serums aren't for everyone and can potentially have some side effects. Some people may have an allergic reaction to certain lash serums, so it's very important to do a patch test and consult your doctor or dermatologist before applying one anywhere near your eye area. Other people may find lash serums leave their eyes irritated or red. If you notice any irritation at all, stop using the product immediately.