Have you ever had sensitive or watery eyes when wearing makeup?


Have you ever had sensitive or watery eyes when wearing makeup? How do you handle/work around them?

I try to leave a very, very tiny bit of space between my upper lash line and my lid that’s only noticeable if I photograph and really look down (most of the time), because I find it helps prevent some drop of product into the eye. I also try to comb through my bare lashes after applying eyeshadow to remove any excess powder so that it doesn’t get into my eyes later on! Some eyeliners cause my eyes to water, so I won’t wear them on the water line.

Thanks to reader Ryou for today’s question idea Do you have a question idea? Submit yours here.

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Kathleen C Avatar

I can’t use any of the Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner pencils which really sucks because I received the Ocho Loco set and more one year so I have like 15 pencils in my drawer that I can’t use. I also can’t use the Milani Liquid Eyes ones and a Revlon liner I recently bought. Liquid eye liners also burn my eyes bad and Urban Decay’s normal eye shadow primer works but the newer anti-aging one burns my lids. I prefer to just use my Rimmel nude eyeliner as a base and use my powder eyeshadows to get an eyeliner look. To tightline I use a cream liner, which works great. All this to say I’ve recently accepted that there’s a small chance I may have sensitive eyes.

anne Avatar

me too! i love UD, but the pencils don’t work for me. perversion, demolition, absolutely no go. i learned the hard way…after a couple of hours i feel like there is something in my eye, then itching starts, and if i don’t remove it ASAP, my vision starts to blur. even when i remove it carefully, the next morning my eyes are puffy and uncomfortable. had to give about 14 pencils away, lots unused.

Marina Avatar

Yes, whenever I wear UD Perversion liner. I have no problems with any other UD liners, including Zero and Black Velvet, but with Perversion my eyes become waterfalls. Also Benefit They Are Real and Blinc’s tubing mascara. I just don’t use those products.

Divya Avatar

Oh yes! My eyes water with a lot of eyeliners.. few of them are the YSL waterproof one. In fact the only ones which work well are MAC eye kohl’s and MUFE eye kohl the non waterproof version! Still to find a weterproof eye lines which doen’t irritate my eyes 😐

Lindsay Avatar

try maybelline or Rimmel, i have EXTREMELY irritable eyes and i can wear most ALL their eye products and mostly blacks or black/browns but not really many colors..good luck! <3

xamyx Avatar

My eyes tend to get dry when irritated, so I can’t speak about watery eyes. However, when my eyes aren’t feeling their best, I typically avoid all eye makeup, except brows. Mascara tends to be the most problematic, so I’ll sometimes just forgo mascara & use cream shadows.

Shelley Avatar

I really struggle with this. I have dry eyes, then I had Lasik so they can be very watery at times. It waters up into my eyeshadow and smears it really badly despite my eyeshadow primer (I’ve used Urban decay, too faced, etc). Certain mascaras make them super bad. And cold weather. I’ve been trying to figure out if other products affect it. I can’t wear anything in the waterline at all. I found the best thing is using Jesse’s Girl liquid eyeliner. It acts like a barrier and prevents the watery eyes from making my eyeshadow run except on the very worst of my days.

Emma Avatar

Sadly, this happens every time I tightline 🙁 Doesn’t matter what brand. I get annoyingly teary eyes, usually at the outer corners. It just stays wet all day/night and I can only squint.

Rachel Avatar

Yes! There are some liners that I can’t wear on the water line without crazy watery eyes happening, and I bought an eyeshadow palette once that looked like all genuine satin finishes but as soon as it hit my eye it turned into a mega glitter fest that managed to not drop onto my cheek, etc. but straight into my eye. I also have to be careful I don’t overcurl my lashes because my eyes water a lot in response to wind/air con so I need to keep a bit of lash protection going on.

Vic Avatar

Sadly UD Perversion makles my eyes water when I wear it on the waterline. 🙁 or when my Mascara gets to old… 😉

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan Avatar

That’s weird. I’ve always thought that Perversion was safe because it’s creamy and because it’s not instant water fountain as other UD, but the fact that so many other people report problems with it makes me sit up and notice. I think I should try using it alone and see how it goes.

LU Avatar

Yes, certain products make my eyes watery/itchy if used on the waterline. The Milani Pencil Eyeliners do it, which took me awhile to figure out, and even UD 24/7 Perversion Pencil. It really is an individual thing, because other UD liners (Whiskey, Deviant, Graffiti, Zero, Covet, and others) do not bother me. Certain Mascaras do it too, I developed sensitivity to MUFE Smoky Lash. Usually my upper lash line isn’t sensitive to any of my eyeliners, unless I try to tight line, which I never do, it just doesn’t feel nice!

Astrild Avatar

I have sentitive AND watery eyes even with bare eyes. Sometimes it get worst with makeup, but it’s not the main problem. Waterproof mascara it’s a must for me.

Ryou Avatar

Thank you for featuring my question, I’d certainly be monitoring the comments closely!

Apart from being very, very gentle, I use eyedrops before applying my eye make-up and dab a soft tissue to remove the excess. I also find that waterproof cream eyeshadows stay put on the inner corners of my lids (where the patchiness tend to concentrate), while powders go patchy really quickly. I avoid using much eyeliner on the inner corner because no matter what I do, they run and irritate my eyes. Finally, on windy day, I make sure to wear glasses or sunglasses to protect my eyes.

I should really try your tricks as well, Christine. <3

Kirsten Avatar

I have pollen allergies that make my eyes itch very badly at certain times of the year. I have to make a conscious effort not to rub my eyes when I’m wearing makeup. I also sometimes use eyedrops for the allergies, so all my mascara has to be waterproof. I generally resign myself to smudges and quite a bit of fading.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan Avatar

Oh gosh yes, this is the bane of my life. it doesn’t help that one of my tear duct is almost completely obstructed and the other isn’t so fine either, but after an operation last year it’s been a little better and now I can wear makeup, but not everything and not in any circumstance.

Yesterday I had the bright idea of putting on full face and then go for a cycle. No. OK, the pollen count in London is very high, and although I’m not terribly sensitive to it the combination of allergens and makeup is deadly – potentially literally, since at one point there was so much water streaming down my eyes I was basically cycling blind.

My conclusions on how to minimise harm:

1. Use cream eyeshadows. Chanel, MUFE and MAC all are fine. It means monochrome lid, but hey.
2. Use kohl powder – for some reason it works better than most eye pencils.
3. UD 24/7 are hit and miss. Perversion on lid and even waterline is fine. Shades with glitter on it, unfortunately, are not. I can still use them but with care, and only if I am not going out (I used to apply makeup at the workplace after my cycle commute), or I am driving somewhere instead of walking and public transport.
4. Mascara needs to be applied with a lot of care, only on the upper lashes, having care to let it dry before putting my glasses back on (yeah, because I ALSO wear glasses, and at my age with contacts my near vision is non-existent. Fun, eh? I still wear makeup which tells you something of my stubbornness).
5. Eyeshadow is sadly mostly a thing of the past, but I have managed to get some mineralise MAC eyeshadow to sit demurely and not try to kill me by following all of the above, put it on carefully, don’t go out in the wind and sun and pollen, plus Christine’s suggestion of cleaning your lashes afterwards is very interesting and I so will do it from now on.

Just as a side note… despite losing my job two weeks ago and having arrived at a MAC store with eyes streaming and having had to take everything off my eyes first, I reset my lipstick counter to zero yesterday… I know, I am hopeless.

Ryou Avatar

Thank you for the suggestions! I’ve started relying on cream eyeshadows a lot more, which is a pity since I love sparkly indie eyeshadows. I still wear them but I tend to avoid the inner corners and stick to creams on the worst areas. Do you usually wear a primer under your cream eyeshadow?

Second, I’m very sorry to hear about the situation with your job, I’m a job-seeker and I deeply empathize. *hugs*

Sylirael Avatar

I generally do OK unless I manage to stab myself in the eye during application 😛 I can even wear sparkly UD liners in the waterline without any irritation (although longevity can be an issue), but I’ve never tried actual glitter around the eye, really.

Am I the only one who finds it really interesting pulling out the different colours of ombre eye goo that you can get when you wear multiple liners at once? Just me? OK 😉

Lisa Avatar

I have extremely sensitive eyes. I can’t use most drugstore eyeshadow but have found MAC is one of the only ones that work in general. I have sensitivity to eyeliners and mascaras too. It’s hard.

Lily Avatar

Yes I have sensitive eyes. Most days I have to skip mascara and just do some eye shadow so my eyes don’t get watery because of allergies.

Veronica Avatar

My waterline has always been too sensitive for eyeliner – everything slides off within an hour or two and runs down the corner of my eye, even the workhorse shades like MAC Blacktrack or UD’s 24/7 liners. I didn’t so much fix it as just avoid tightlining altogether. If a smokey eye looks a little less perfect as a result, oh well. My eyes are hooded enough you don’t need that much definition, anyhow. 😛 Even my lower lash is sensitive enough that only the strongest of eyeliners will last eight hours, and in general, I try to avoid running eyeshadow in that area because I find it slightly irritating. Oddly enough, I have no problems with my upper lash line regarding sensitivity, only that the lids of my eyes are slightly oily. I have to make sure to strongly mattify the corners, else any winged liner will smudge over time.

WARPAINTandUnicorns Avatar

Yess I’m still fighting through eyelash glues to find one that works that doesn’t leave my lid slightly swollen.

I also CAN NOT tight line my upper eyelid, something about doing that with any product cause irritation and my eyes to water. My waterline on my lower lid is fine though. lol

Also a small number of eye primer (like 3 out 30) burns my lid and I’m not sure what the ingredient that does it. >_<

Deborah Avatar

Yes – Only once in all of these years of wearing makeup!! It is a popular long lasting eye pencil — and it also ruined several pairs of contact lenses. I blamed it on the pollen at first because I’d never been allergic to any cosmetic – ever. I was relieved to find out it was the eye pencil. I had purchased a back up too : ( Live and learn.

Donna Avatar

Amazingly, the one product that made my eyes water and become irritated is Almay Liquid Eyeliner. They start to burn like nobody’s business. Once and done.

starfish628 Avatar

I used to have a problem every morning after I got up that my eyes would water for about 2 hours. Mentioned it to my eye Dr this last time I got an exam. And he said I had dry eyes and gave me drops to use evening and morning. I figured the man was Cra Cra but I tried it anyway. He was right. My eyes were so dry they spent a couple hours just mass producing tears. Couple of days with the drops and no more running eye liner or washed off shadow. Who knew?

Judy H. Avatar

Yes! I have! I’ve had a couple of mascaras with strong smells (Smashbox is a major offender) that have caused my eyes to water and itch and I’m still on the lookout for an eyeliner that I can use under my eye that doesn’t irritate. For some reason, the top of my eye is fine, but under the lashes is a different story.

Samantha Avatar

I have issues with some liners such as UD 24/7. MAC seems to work the best for me. I can use Rimmel soft kohl in white in the waterline, but that is about it. Also, I cannot keep liners very long if they are in pots such fluidline. Mascara is the worst. I always have to recycle it before it is totally empty. For that reason, I only keep one open at a time.

Ryou Avatar

Some people say that you really should only keep mascaras for around 2-3 months after opening anyway, which is kind of wasteful IMO. I only have one mascara open and I try to use travel size as much as possible, since I’m more likely to finish them before having to toss them.

Johanna Avatar

Yes! I have a big problem with eyes that are watery… I haven’t figured out what specific product that causes the eyes to water, I have to use a waterproof eyeliner (liquid) on my upper lash line otherwise I end up with black all over my lids! It’s soo freaking annoying! It’s often one eye at the time. If its windy outside that makes my eyes very watery, but that’s normal I guess 🙂 I’m always on the hunt for great waterproof liquid eyeliners.. I have found only one that works quite well, from a Swedish brand called isadora.

WildDove Avatar

I’ve never met a soft eyeliner type pencil, high end or low end, that didn’t make my eyes red and watery. I just had to give up on them. I think bacteria can get into various eye makeup like mascara or powder shadows that have been used wet, and that can cause redness and watering.

Chantal Avatar

I’ve only experienced sensitivity with one thing: waterproof mascara! This is heartbreaking to me because it’s the only thing that can truly hold a curl in my wimpy straight lashes 🙁
I’ve actually gotten pretty severe eye infections because of it! So the only way for me to work around it is to just not use it.

Rachael Avatar

CRAZY… I was just complaining to my husband how everytime I wear makeup lately my right eye waters constantly…I can’t figure out why though.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan Avatar

Rachel, if it’s just ONE eye, it might be a problem with your tear duct. I have both my tear ducts restricted, one completely blocked and the other sort of almost. It took me a long time and several visits to the eye hospital for them to come to this conclusion – eventually I had an operation. By that time I couldn’t wear makeup of any kind on my left eye, and had to travel with a tissue and mop up my eye all the time.

The doctors were not optimistic about the chances of success with the operation, and my left eye still waters more than the right one, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was, the constant mopping is a thing of the past, and I CAN WEAR MAKEUP AGAIN!

My case was a bit extreme, usually if it’s a blockage it can be flushed out, it’s not very pleasant but it usually works. So get thee to a doctor and see if you can check that out. Allergies or sensitivities should affect both eyes, not just the one.

Ryou Avatar

@Anna Feruglio Dal Dan I’ve actually been suspecting I may have a blocked tearduct on my left eye, because that one is far more problematic than the right when it comes to wateriness. My optometrist suggested that it’s just dry eyes, but I don’t want to rule out the blocked tearduct theory.

Do you know the flushing procedure? Is there any way that could be done at home?

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan Avatar

No, you can’t do it at home. They insert a needle into the opening of your tear duct and push a solution through – DEFINITELY something you want a trained doctor to do in a sterile environment. As much in the “don’t try this at home” category as trying to do eye surgery.

Everybody was telling me it was dry eyes/allergies, until I managed to be referred to the eye specialists at the local eye hospital.

Ryou Avatar

I’ve read something about “rinsing” your eyes with saline solution in the event that the blockage isn’t severe enough to require further intervention.

My aunt, who is an eye specialist, keeps telling me it’s just dry eyes, and I’m starting to suspect that it’s something more serious than that.

Thank you for the info! I’ll certainly look into it. 🙂

TwirlyGirly Avatar

“I have both my tear ducts restricted, one completely blocked and the other sort of almost. It took me a long time and several visits to the eye hospital for them to come to this conclusion – eventually I had an operation. By that time I couldn’t wear makeup of any kind on my left eye, and had to travel with a tissue and mop up my eye all the time.”

Rachel,

I have a blocked tear duct in my right eye due to scar tissue in my left nostril and sinus as a result of a serious hit-and-run auton accident years ago. It took me quite some time to put 2+2 together and figure out what was wrong when my right eye inexpicably began watering, completely destroying my makeup, a little over a year ago.

When you had the surgery, how long were you in the hospital and what was your recovery like? DId you have to have a tube inserted, and if so, was it visible and how long did it have to stay in place?

Not being able to wear makeup and having to dab at my eye to sop up the tears almost constantly has gotten really old… I need to have this corrected!

TwirlyGirly Avatar

Geez – should have proofread a bit more carefully before hitting “Post Comment”…that should have read “I have a blocked tear duct in my right eye due to scar tissue in my RIGHT nostil and sinus…..”

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan Avatar

It was day surgery: got there in the morning, they operated in general aneasthesia around noon, was sent home around five. They gave me some medication I had to put in both eyes and nose, and was sent home to be pretty miserable, with instructions to sleep with my head raised and NOT TO SNEEZE no matter how much I needed it for a week.

The following week wasn’t much fun, but then right at the same time my dad was diagnosed with something pretty serious so I think it was my mood more than the new nose passage that troubled me. Then at the follow up visit, emergency emergency, my eyeball pressure was off the scale, new set of drops, back to normal.

Yes, they inserted a little plastic tube, which was barely visible when you looked closely. It went from one punctus (the opening of the tear duct) to the other so what was visible was a little clear bend near the corner of my eye. Being a bad person I would show it to people and watch them being all squeamish and squeal in horror.

The problem was that after the operation the new opening they had created was filled with the plastic tubing, which had to stay there to stop my cartilage closing down, so the weeping got a lot worse and I was very discouraged. Also, they kinda forgot that the tubing was to come out so I had to call the hospital to remind them. Taking the tubing out was also a day hospital procedure, but it was a lot easier, they took me to the operating theatre, carefully inserted a pair of tweezers in the nose, pulled, the tubing came out. No pain.

After that, the eye stopped watering in a couple of days and now is basically normal.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan Avatar

Also, I had the following exchange with the anaesthesiologist just before the operation:

“We need to put some cocaine in your nose, do you have a problem with that?”
A bit taken aback, I said, “No, I guess not, no problem.”
“It’s medical grade cocaine, you know, not the street kind.”
“I’mmmmm glad to know that. I didn’t know that cocaine had medical uses. I knew about heroin [I was in Medical school for four years, and I dated an anaesthesiologist, they are mad], but not cocaine.”
“Oh yes we have heroin too, anaesthesiologists have all the best drugs!”

I researched it later and yes, cocaine is a very good vasoconscritor so it makes your nose bleed a lot less, and since the nose is full of capillaries, it’s important. Not that you can bleed out, but it obscures the operating area, and can go down your throat.

At any rate, when I woke up I had a strong urge to sing opera and talk to the duty nurse who was not cooperating. I was very merry for about half and hour. My one and only experience with serious drugs.

Oh – and there are two ways to create a bypass for your tear duct, one leaves a tiny scar, the other doesn’t. The one I had was the scarless one.

Bethaney Avatar

For some reason I cannot wear purple eyeliner. My eyes go crazy!! I recently had a bad reaction to UD’s Sabbath eyeliner. It was such a shame because I loved the color so much. I was wiping tears the whole day and my eyes were super red:(

RM Avatar

same here. i think i’m allergic to a pigment ingredient in some purple eyeshadows and liners. i have to be really careful applying undereye concealer and primer because that somehow manages to “slip” into my eye and start the watering process. i’ve also had to give up blending undereye concealer with a brush as that irritates my eyes, and also i have to very gently pat on any shadow that gets close to the lashes.

Fashn Avatar

Thankfully I do not have an issue with sensitive eyes except for when my mascara starts to get old, then I start getting irritated eyes and it’s time to buy a new one.

Brittany Avatar

My eyes are highly sensitive on their own because they’re chronically dry, but I luckily haven’t had bad reactions to specific products making them water. However, they sometimes water from things in the environment like wind outside or fans blowing, so I have to wear waterproofing top coat if my mascara isn’t waterproof or else it smudges all away.

Helene Avatar

With one brand, yes, but that was years ago. A European, I think brand called Isadora. It’s a drugstore kind of makeup, quite cheap, if anything is cheap here. Back to the question. I reacted to an eyeshadow, it was also quite glittery, so I thought it was just glitter falling into the eyes. Some years later I had the same kind of reaction to the same brands eye makeup remover. I just stay away from the brand now.
Wind, cold, and bright light makes my eyes water a bit, so I wear sunglasses a lot. It helps me.
Other than that I can use all kinds of makeup all around the eyes without a problem.

CKaiden Avatar

REALLY grateful 4 this ? & all the replies!! I have 1 eye that ALWAYS waters no matter what & sometimes they both do. I use so many different brands (mostly high end) & always change up my eye look so its been a pain trying 2 narrow down the offenders. I’m thinking it may either b my Urban Decay (sob!) liners or mascara. Def gonna put some of these comments 2 the test! Thx again 4 a GREAT “? of the day”! 🙂

Susan Avatar

My eyes water a lot but not from eye makeup. It is more from allergies and when it is windy. The trick is to use waterproof everything. The only problem I have had with an eye product was Latisse. It stung, itched and made my eyes water like crazy.

alie Avatar

i preface this by saying:
– i have extremely poor vision. like, 20/1000 or more. my prescription is -7.5/-8.0. (legally blind).
– i am VERY prone to eye infections.
– i also have a weird eye disorder (central serous choreoretinopathy) which may leave me blind and requires treatments that involve getting needles shoved into my eyes when i have flareups. (im the first case that new york eye and ear ever has seen in a female and in anyone under 40. usually this affects air traffic controllers, surgeons, etc.) there’s no cure.
… SO.
given all that, i do have issues with sensitivity around my eye area.
i clean my brushes with dial once a week, and when they are dirty.
if i get something on my contact lens, i throw the lens out (thanks daily lenses!) and put in a new one.
i am VERY cautious when using UDPP, because contacts love to get smudges on them from it.
i often use “not eye safe” products (mac basic red, urban decay electric palette, mac paints from when they were awesome, blue boy, flammable….) but i wash my face the second i get home from work, and i soak a cotton ball in eye makeup remover and hold it on my eyes for 30-60 seconds to help remove any potential stains
i rarely line my top inner lid, and if i do i can only use a pencil…. the bottom inner lid isnt AS sensitive but i try to stick to the same products so i dont have to deal with more infections
if i get an infection, i sanitize or sadly, toss, any product that i used right before or during the infection. depends on what it is and what type of infection i ended up with.
i dont share brushes
i dont share eyeliners
i sanitize any eye product that i have used on another person. if its a pigment, i will pour a portion out and use that small amount rather than sharing from the same jar.
if i am stuck in my glasses for a few days, ill usually just go with blacktrack fluidline and mascara (unless i have an eye infection, then i dont use anything) and ill do a really bold lip instead. ive had everything from uveitis to ulcers on my eye, to chemical burns from cleaning a basement with too many chemicals *with goggles on!! it was possible!**) so ive mastered the art of playing up everything else while letting my eyes heal.

Lindsay Avatar

YES DEFINITELY its a huge problem for me, it seems there are only a few brands i can wear that dont cause this problem, so i am going to look into the ingredients to see what may be the main cause, so i can pretty much only wear, Maybelline, Rimmel London, Bare Escentuals, Buxom and Almay , for face products i am having a very hard time finding stuff that doesnt irritate but i pretty much stay with aveeno clear complexion and/or neutrogena rapid clear, those have yet to make my eyes water, Thank God and they work great!! the main brands i stay away from are for eye products are MARY KAY that is a huuuuge problem as well as coastal scents i bought two big 88 palettes only to have to give them away, Covergirl lash blast mascara REALLY makes my eyes water as well as L’OREAL eye products and Revlon unfortunately, but I use their Lip products no problem, but since this is about eyes yeah that pretty much sums it up, im glad you asked this because like i said its a huge problem for me, and i do trial and error….the sephora birthday gift last year with the they’re real mascara made my eyes water sooooo bad 🙁 annnnd yeah thats all i have to say, sorry this was so long but its my main area of concern because im such a HUUUGE MAKEUP LOVER, it sucks there are so many brands i cant wear!

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