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Eye Make Up for Sensitive Eyes

Photo Author: Pat Ferro. License: CC-BY-SA 2.0

Photo Author: Pat Ferro. License: CC-BY-SA 2.0

Paler people often suffer from sensitive skin and eyes more than those with dark complexions, but this is a very broad observation, and the reality is that anyone can have sensitivities. This irritation might be fairly constant, or it might flare up – such as in the hayfever season or around the time of your period. But whenever it happens, life still goes on, and if you want to wear make up for work or you have a special night out planned, how can you look good with eye make up, without ending up with sore and itchy ‘panda eyes’ by the end of the day?

Hypoallergenic Products

Get hypoallergenic products made by a reputable brand name – these are more expensive, but large well-known brands test their products more extensively than the cheaper, smaller ones. ‘Big’ is not an automatic guarantee of quality, but big names have more of a reputation to protect and are more likely to go to greater lengths to protect it.


Mascara can be the worst offender when it comes to making your eyes water. Not only can it flake off into your eyes, but when sensitivity strikes even the smell of it can set off a teary flood.

Buy a separate mascara brush, or wash and rinse an old one, and transfer just a little mascara onto it when you do your make up. By using just a small amount of mascara, you’ll get colour without any unattractive ‘clumping’ on your lashes – and less mascara means less sensitive reaction, and less chance of it flaking off and getting into your eyes too.

Replace your mascara regularly – most products have a useful life of about one or two years, and the longer it lingers in your make up bag, the thicker and stickier it will become, and as it ‘gloops up’ you’ll be putting more and more onto your lashes, which means more likelihood of flaking and sensitivity.

A mascara base might help – it will condition your lashes and help the mascara stay in place so it doesn’t flake off so much.

Just brush the tips of your lashes with the colour – the closer the mascara gets to your eyes, the more likely problems will occur. Applying mascara only to the very ends of your eyelashes will still give them length, and if you curl your lashes beforehand it can make them look longer, as well as giving the illusion of wider, brighter eyes.


Eyeliner isn't as 'unfriendly' to sensitive eyes as mascara, but it can still be a headache. To minimise the chances of it causing problems:

Avoid putting eyeliner on the waterline between your lower lashes and your eye - this part of your eye is always a little moist, and especially so if you have sensitive eyes or at times when you’re prone to sensitivity, so eyeliner on this part of your eye will ‘run’ and spread – and usually right into your eyes, which can cause great discomfort.

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Experiment with the different kinds of eyeliner – when my eyes are feeling sensitive I find that kohl pencil is more gentle than liquid or gel eyeliners, but other people have found the opposite to be true! Test them out and find one that works for you.

Different colours – some find that certain pigments can make a difference to how their eyes react to eyeliner, so if you usually use a very dark black, try some lighter colours like dark or mid-browns to see if it makes a difference.

Vitamin C, Fruit and Antihistamines

Antihistamines – these aren’t just for hayfever, they can calm all kinds of allergies, so whether your eyes are sensitive to pollen or make up, you might find that taking one of these pills will banish the tears.

Fruit and vitamin C – there’s a small amount of very preliminary research that raises the possibility that vitamin C calms allergies and sensitivities, but on a larger scale the evidence looks less likely to be significant. Large-scale epidemiological studies have found that high consumption of fruits and vegetables is more effective than vitamin C supplements. So don’t just get your 5-a-day – make fresh fruit smoothies, have fruit salads for dessert, and load up your plate with fresh lightly-cooked seasonal veggies to help not just your sensitivities and allergies but to fight the signs of aging and have bight, clear skin!


Be choosy about the brand of make up you use – make up counters at big department stores may well be willing to give you – for free - some sample sizes of different products to try out, and if you sign up online to the mailing lists of brand names, you’ll be able to get discounts on purchases, and free samples in the mail - perfect if you want to try out lots of different ones and you know that your sensitivities will mean that most of them might never be used more than once.

Primer and Foundation

Make up primers and foundation creams aren’t just a base to keep your make up in place, but can also act as a protective barrier between the sensitive skin around your eyes and your make up. There are also specialist primers and foundations that are specifically formulated for the eye area, which are smoother and more sheer than regular bases. But be choosy about these, too, and test whether it’s one of them that’s causing your sensitivities. Primers, foundation and concealers are meant to be a very thin film, so apply small amounts and blend well – very soft specialist make up brushes are available for these kinds of products, and will sweep on just the right amount more evenly and gently than fingers can.


Redberry Sky (author) on July 04, 2012:

Cheers Ripplemaker, you're right, eyeliner can be a real bugbear of a product! Hope these help keep your make up where it belongs, and *not* in your eyes! :)

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on July 01, 2012:

I was drawn to this hub as I get watery eyes whenever an eyeliner had to work its way into them. Groan..I am blinking now even as I am typing this. LOL Going to remember this tips. Thanks!

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