The Best Oil-Free Mascaras

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Whether you want a mascara that is safe to use with your eyelash extensions, or you just have super-sensitive eyes, there are quite a few oil-free mascaras out there that deserve a spot in your makeup kit. The best oil-free mascaras are water-based, gentle, and washable — not waterproof. Not only are waterproof mascaras hard to remove without using oil-based cleansers (and oil is the enemy of lash extensions), but any rubbing or tugging around your eyes can make sensitive eyes feel irritated, and can also mess with false eyelashes.

If you have lash extensions, there are mascaras that are specifically designed for that purpose, so when in doubt, buying one of those is the easiest way to make sure you’re getting an oil-free mascara. But there are other mascaras that are water-based and oil-free, even if they are not exclusively intended for eyelash extensions. In fact, some of the most beloved drugstore mascaras are (surprisingly) oil-free.

Scroll on to discover five of the best oil-free mascaras, all of which are water-based, gentle, and safe for use on sensitive eyes, lash extensions, contact lens wearers, and the like. Then, pick up one of the best oil-free makeup removers while you’re at it.

1. The Overall Best Oil-Free Mascara

Xtreme Lashes Length & Volume Mascara was designed for use on semi-permanent lash extensions, though the water-based, panthenol-enriched formula is also great for contact lens wearers and people with sensitive eyes. The brand suggests that you apply the mascara from the middle of your lashes to the tips (in other words, above the adhesive bonds), which is good advice for any mascara you use with extensions. Like all the other oil-free mascaras on this list, you can remove this easily with a gentle, oil-free makeup remover or cleanser.

2. The Cult-Classic Oil-Free Mascara

This iconic pink tube has appeared in countless makeup artists’ kits and graced the lashes of its legions of fans since 1971. Who knew that the classic formula, which gives lashes definition and length without feeling sticky or becoming clumpy, is made without oil? It’s nice and buildable, too — one coat will give you a deep-black tint and some length, while two or three will allow you to amp up the drama. Stick with the washable — not waterproof — version, or, if you’re just looking for a bit of hold and curl, you can also pick up the mascara in clear (which, pro tip, also makes a great brow gel).

3. Another Fan-Favorite Oil-Free Mascara

Currently the top-selling mascara on Amazon, with over 200,000 five-star ratings, Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect mascara is beloved for the powerful oomph and drama it gives to lashes of all lengths and thicknesses, whether you’re using it with lash extensions or not. With its straight-fiber brush to define and color each lash, the mascara makes it easy to reach even those tricky inner corners. It’s oil- and fragrance-free, and from a PETA-certified cruelty-free brand.

4. The Best Dual-Sided Oil-Free Mascara

GladGirl Lashe EnMasse Mascara is the second mascara on this list made especially for people with lash extensions. The vegan and oil-free formula gets its lightweight moisture from glycerin, wheat protein, and — surprisingly — cotton. The clever, dual-sided wand gives users more control on how they apply, define, and sculpt their lashes, with the fluffier end being better for volume and the curved end being ideal for a more natural effect.

5. Writer’s Pick

If you have sensitive eyes, try PÜR’s Fully Charged Mascara, which I find to be super gentle and non-irritating, and generally delightful. I’m someone with sensitive eyes who also rubs them (too) often, and this doesn’t cause any itching, nor does it feel goopy or heavy on my lashes. The conditioning formula contains biotin and peptides for lash health, panthenol to soften, and is both vegan and cruelty-free; therefore, it’s also a great choice for people with dry, brittle lashes (though it doesn’t rely on any oils for nourishment).

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This foaming lash shampoo is gentle enough to remove makeup without damaging false eyelashes/lash extensions, and can also be used before applying falsies to prep and cleanse them if you’re doing your own at home. It comes in a convenient pump-top bottle, with a soft brush so you can carefully apply the cleanser to your lashes, and is both fragrance-free and safe for sensitive skin.