How Do I Choose the Best Eye Makeup for Sensitive Eyes?

Amanda R. Bell

When choosing eye makeup for sensitive eyes, it is important to pick products that will have the least potential to cause irritation. Look for those labeled specifically for sensitive eyes, asking your doctor or optometrist for advice on recommended brands. If you have a choice between a cream- or powder-based shadow, it is typically best to opt for the former, as these typically do not fall-out into your eye. In general, heavily-colored products will bother your eyes and should be avoided if possible. Prior to purchasing eye makeup for sensitive eyes, check the ingredient label on the package and make sure that it does not contain any potential irritants.

A woman applies mascara designed for sensitive eyes.
A woman applies mascara designed for sensitive eyes.

Perhaps the easiest way of choosing eye makeup for sensitive eyes is to look for products that are labeled specifically for this purpose. Several brands cater exclusively to those with this issue, while others are known for avoiding the use of common irritants, as they are generally better for everyone, even those without sensitive eyes. Your doctor or optometrist will likely be able to give you an idea of the best brands available, as well as which ones you should avoid.

People with sensitive eyes should use eye shadow that won't fall into their eyes and cause irritation.
People with sensitive eyes should use eye shadow that won't fall into their eyes and cause irritation.

One of the primary reasons that powder eyeshadow irritates the eyes is that it is relatively easy for the product to travel from your lid to your eye, whether during application or throughout the day. While there are some that may not cause issues, a cream-based product is easier to control during application. It also has a far lesser chance of migrating to your eye during the day as long as you do not apply it too closely to your tear duct or waterline. When looking for eye makeup for sensitive eyes, a cream-based product will typically have the least likely chance of causing issues.

The color of the product will typically give you a good idea as to whether or not it will irritate your eyes. In general, the more colorful or pigmented a product is, the more ingredients it has and the more likely it is to cause problems. Black eyeliner and mascara are typically best, as they contain fewer ingredients than their colored counterparts do. Neutral-colored eyeshadows, such as browns and grays, also contain fewer ingredients than products that are purple, pink, blue, or green.

No matter what texture or color a product is, it is important to look over the ingredient list to determine if the item has the potential to irritate your eyes. Added fragrances are well-known to cause issues with sensitive eyes, despite the fact that many manufacturers choose to include them in eye makeup. Products with rosin, nickel, or lanolin should also be avoided, as these can bother sensitive eyes. If you have had a reaction to a product in the past, it can be helpful to look at the ingredients in that product to determine what caused the issue. In the future, try to avoid products with those ingredients by always checking the packaging.

Eye shadow should be lighter or darker than the color of the eye iris.
Eye shadow should be lighter or darker than the color of the eye iris.

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Discussion Comments


I can't wear mascara of any kind, period. There's something in it that makes my eyes itch. Fortunately, I have dark lashes, so it's not such a big deal.

It seems I've become more sensitive to eye makeup as I've gotten older. I can't just wear the cheap stuff anymore. I have to use something like Clinique or another brand that is specifically hypoallergenic. And even then, I like to get a sample to make sure the stuff isn't going to make me itchy. It's easier to do this with department store makeup. They usually have samples, and a good associate will tell you about how often people react to their products. Yes, they want to make a sale, but they also don't want an unhappy customer returning the product.

Sometimes, all you can do is just sample the product to make sure you won't have a reaction.

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