When it comes to your getting-ready routine, applying eye makeup is the fun part. And though perhaps a less enjoyable task, removing said eye makeup is crucial. However, as anyone with sensitive eyes knows, using the wrong eye makeup remover can easily leave you burning, itching, stinging, or even swollen. To help narrow down the best eye makeup removers for sensitive eyes, Bustle spoke with Nashville-based ophthalmologist and aesthetic surgeon Dr. Melissa Toyos, who shares her tips on what to look for in a formula (and how to properly remove your eye makeup without causing irritation) below.
"Eyes are naturally more sensitive than other body parts because the skin is thinner and more delicate there than anywhere else on the body," Dr. Toyos explains of why you may experience eye irritation so easily. "Dry eyes, allergies, and even pollution can make them more sensitive," she notes. To keep irritation to a minimum, you'll obviously want a makeup remover that was specially designed for the more sensitive skin around the eyes. But more specifically, Dr. Toyos says to avoid harsh cleansing ingredients, like detergents and sodium laureth sulfate. It's also helpful to look for products that say they've been tested by ophthalmologists and are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.
As for how to remove your eye makeup, Dr. Toyos says to be cautious of how harshly you're applying the remover. "Use a gentle rub," she says. "Forceful rubbing can stretch the skin, and it releases more histamines which worsens the cycle of allergies." If you've overdone it while trying to remove stubborn makeup, or allergies are the main culprit of your sensitivity, Dr. Toyos says that eye drops will help you out. "I recommend LUMIFY to reduce redness," she says.
Ahead, you'll find five of the best eye makeup removers for sensitive eyes on Amazon, including Dr. Toyos' favorite method for dissolving even the most stubborn of makeup (minus the irritation).
1. The Ophthalmologist's Pick
"I prefer oil-based removers, but only natural oils like coconut, or my favorite, cold-pressed castor oil," Dr. Toyos notes of her go-to eye makeup remover. The Kate Blanc Cosmetics castor oil is a solid option because it's cold-pressed from castor beans and USDA certified-organic, ensuring that it doesn't contain harmful chemicals or questionable additives. The multitasking product can also be used to moisturize your skin and hair, and many Amazon reviewers use it to condition their brows and lashes, too. Whether used as an eye makeup remover or to promote healthier lashes, reviewers confirm it's a gentle choice. "I have very sensitive eyes that swell easily, [and] this product did not cause any irritation or swelling," commented one Amazon shopper.
2. The Overall Best Eye Makeup Remover For Sensitive Skin & Eyes
For a more traditional method, this Avène Gentle Eye Makeup Remover was specifically formulated to take off makeup without irritating sensitive eyes or skin. Avène's formula is hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested, and suitable for those who wear contact lenses. The formula has a gel-like consistency that makes it easy to apply directly over your eyes with your fingertips or onto a cotton pad first. The remover has the same pH level as tears, so it won't sting or burn your eyes. Adding to its gentleness, the formula combines sorbitol with Avène's own thermal spring water to soothe and hydrate the skin around your eyes, so they feel soft instead of irritated or dry post-cleansing.
3. The Best Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover For Sensitive Skin & Eyes
For a more heavy-duty makeup remover that can wipe away waterproof mascara and eyeliner with ease, there's this pick from La Roche-Posay. The bi-phase formula contains a water-based cleanser and gentle oils that are combined together when you shake the bottle to tackle stubborn makeup sans irritation. To ensure its safety for both sensitive eyes and skin, the fragrance-free remover has been ophthalmologist- and allergy-tested.
4. The Best Budget-Friendly Makeup Remover For Sensitive Skin & Eyes
If you're looking for a more affordable option, the Cetaphil Gentle Makeup Remover is less than $5. It's another bi-phase formula that gets activated when you shake the bottle to better dissolve makeup (though this one is oil-free), and it's formulated with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, ginseng, and green tea. While it's important to note that this remover does contain benzyl alcohol, which can be irritating to some, it's still a solid eye makeup remover that's been ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested. It's also hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, so you don't have to worry about it clogging your pores if you want to use it to remove makeup from your entire face, too.
5. The Best Micellar Water For Sensitive Skin & Eyes
Micellar water-devotees will be glad to know that Bioderma's cult-favorite Sensibio H2O cleansing water was formulated specifically with sensitive skin in mind (and it's super gentle on eyes, too). This remover doesn't dry out skin because the fatty acid esters that form the makeup- (and dirt- and oil)-removing micelles are similar to the phospholipids that naturally fortify the skin. Because it has the consistency of water, it's best used with cotton pads. And this bottle is big, so you can plan on it lasting you a while. You can even use it to cleanse your entire face, and it leaves skin feeling soft instead of stripped.
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Experts: Dr. Melissa Toyos, board-certified ophthalmologist, facial cosmetic surgeon, researcher, lecturer, and Partner and Director of Research at Toyos Clinic.