How to remove waterproof mascara seamlessly for healthy skin

Avoid eye contour wrinkles with this routine

how to remove waterproof mascara
(Image credit: Getty)

When it comes to the pros of wearing waterproof mascara, there are many: it’s sweat- and weather-proof, lasts from morning until evening and provides a quick and easy way to give eyes a swipe of high-impact definition. As far as cons go, there’s only really one. It is, however, a biggie: it can be an absolute pain to remove. 

Discover the best mascara for your needs and routine with our specialist buying guide 

With waterproof formulations’ extra-stubborn staying power, a more specialist removal strategy is required to ensure that every last bit of product has gone from your lashes. Why? Well, with regards to your eye health, leaving your mascara on can be a recipe for disaster.

As waterproof mascaras are generally quite heavy, they can weigh lashes down, which could result in them breaking and falling off. But more than that, when makeup is left on for too long, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in potential irritation and even infection. 

In both the short and long-term, it’s definitely worth the extra effort it takes to remove your mascara properly. From what to use to how to use it, here’s your four-step plan of action. 

1. Soak your pads

Unlike other types of eye makeup, when it comes to taking off waterproof mascara a few drops of remover won’t cut it. In order to avoid smudges the next morning, you’ll want to ensure that the cotton pads you’re using are saturated with your chosen remover. 

And what is the best type of remover? A dual or bi-phase formula is a personal favourite, one that’s also rated by makeup artist Kenneth Soh. Containing both oil and aqueous water phases, these removers provide a double-pronged attack to dissolve waterproof mascara more speedily. Nivea and La Roche-Posay do great ones. However, if you find that these formulas sometimes leave a residue, there are also oil-free versions available from the likes of NARS. These are particularly useful if you’re just changing makeup looks, rather than taking it all off at the end of the day – simply shake, apply, remove and start fresh.

Unlike tube mascara, which comes off with warm water and gentle pressure from your fingertips, waterproof mascara needs more help. Specifically, makeup remover pads. When it comes to these essentials, why not treat them as a tool and consider a more environmentally-friendly alternative to single-use cotton. Reusable options also offer the added bonus of reducing irritation caused by cotton getting into your eyes. 

2. Give your eye makeup remover time to work

A gentler, slower approach is best to keep lash breakage at bay. “Patience is key,” says Kenneth Soh. “Close your eyes and rest the pad on lashes for 10 to 15 seconds to dissolve the mascara. Help it along by gently wiggling and working the remover into them.”

3. Do not rub

Did you know that the skin around the eyes is around four times thinner than the skin on the rest of the body? To avoid being left teary-eyed, keep your technique as tug-free as possible by removing your eye makeup and mascara in separate steps. Avoid harsh rubbing at all costs to prevent your eyelids and under-eye skin becoming raw or your lashes turning brittle.

Aim to wipe the mascara gently downwards or, as Soh recommends, using slow wiggling motions. “It might take a bit more time, but I always do this when I have to remove makeup on shoots and don’t want to irritate the models’ eyes.”

4. Go in with a Q-tip

One of the most annoying aspects of removing waterproof mascara is that it can feel like you haven’t quite got it all (no matter how thorough your attempts). This last step, however, makes all the difference. 

Simply soak a Q-tip in makeup remover and use it to gently mop up any remnants of the mascara that’s caught in between lashes or along the upper and lower lash lines. This essential finishing touch will see that you don’t wake up the next morning with panda eyes or flakes of residue makeup on your pillowcase. 

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