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 • Makeup  • Makeup Guides  • 13 Quick Ways to Make Removing Your Waterproof Mascara a Breeze

13 Quick Ways to Make Removing Your Waterproof Mascara a Breeze

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Main image – Lightfieldstudios/Adobe

Whether you’re going to the wedding of your two best friends, watching a poignant movie or your regular mascara just smudges every time you blink (grr), a waterproof mascara will save the day. Or, in this case, your eye makeup look

“Waterproof mascara is formulated to be long-lasting and resistant to water, which means it’s designed to be smudge-proof and stay in place,” makeup artist and aesthetician Ashley Nichole Gibson told me.

It’s a no brainer right? No looking back, no returning to normal mascara, life as you know it, changed forever.

But there’s always a catch. Waterproof mascara can be really tricky to remove. *Sighs* 

It’s designed to stay put for a reason, but this can sometimes be to the detriment of your lashes and the skin around your eyes when it comes to taking it off.

But it’s ok. Because with the help of Gibson, makeup artist Amy Galloway and board-certified ophthalmologist Dr Diane Hilal-Campo, I’ve discovered 13 brilliant tips for applying and removing waterproof mascara the easy way, so that the whole process is less-stressful, more stress-free.  


How to remove your waterproof mascara

1. Try a micellar water or dedicated eye makeup remover:

“It’s a gentle and effective cleansing solution that contains tiny micelles that act like magnets to attract and remove dirt, oil and makeup from the skin,” explains Galloway. I love La Roche Posay Micellar Solution Cleanser (£19 from Boots UK /$17.99 from La Roche Posay US) as it’s so gentle.


2. Take your time:

“Saturate a cotton round with an oil-based formula, press it against your closed lid and your eyelashes for 30 seconds to one minute, then gently wipe down towards the centre of your face,” says Dr Hilal-Campo.


3. Move in one direction:

When removing eye makeup with a cotton pad, always go in the same direction – usually downwards – instead of from side to side and up and down as this could cause your lashes to fall out. When you’re brushing your hair, you would always go downwards to avoid causing damage. The same applies for your lashes!


4. Be gentle:

“To avoid potential damage to your lashes, remember to be gentle while removing it,” says Gibson. “Avoid excessive tugging or rubbing, which can cause lash thinning and irritate the delicate skin around your eyes.”


5. Use a cleansing balm:

Or you can also try a cleansing balm instead of micellar water as “they are designed to melt away makeup, including waterproof mascara,” says Gibson


6. Massage your lashes

“Gently massage the balm onto your lashes, then wipe it off with a clean cloth.” I use Balance Me Super Berry Cleansing Balm (£35 from Feel Unique UK /$46.80 from Feel Unique US) which is a real treat for the skin.


7. Opt for a dual-phase cleanser:

As an alternative to micellar water or a cleansing balm, try a ‘dual-phase’ cleanser. “These have an oil-and-water-based layer,” Gibson explains.

“This combo is highly effective at breaking down waterproof mascara. Apply a small amount to a cotton pad and gentle wipe away the mascara.” 


8. Go natural:

Or if you prefer the natural approach (or don’t have any makeup remover at home), go natural.

“Two plant oils that are safe to use around the eye are castor oil and poppy seed oil. I prefer poppy seed oil for its use as a makeup remover as it is not too viscous and simple to use; castor oil has the added benefit of supporting healthier eyelash growth,” says Dr Hilal-Campo.

“Apply a small amount to a cotton pad or fingertips and gently massage it over your lashes. Wipe away the mascara with a cotton pad and rinse with warm water,” advises Gibson


9. Use a wipe:

Whilst I wouldn’t recommend using makeup wipes for removing makeup from your face as a whole, they can be effective for removing eye makeup as long as they are gentle and are dampened first.

“Pre-moistened makeup remover wipes are convenient but look for gentle, fragrance-free ones suitable for sensitive eyes,” says Gibson. “Gently brush your eyelids and lashes with these wipes.”


10. Double cleanse:

After using your chosen eye makeup remover, “follow up with a facial cleanser to remove any remaining residue and keep your skin clean and healthy,” says Gibson.


11. Choose the right product

To make it easier to remove your waterproof mascara in the first place though, you’ll want to pick a good formula. My favourite waterproof mascara is Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Waterproof Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara (£30 from Estee Lauder UK /$32 from Estee Lauder US) because it stays in place yet removes easily at the end of the day.


12. Adopt a good application system:

Equally, applying your mascara the right way will make it easier to remove later (since you’ll have less to remove). “Apply thin coats of mascara, building up gradually,” says Galloway. “Wiggle the wand at the base and sweep upward. Focus on the outer corners for added length then clean up any mistakes once the mascara dries.”

Take a look at our complete guide to how to apply your mascara like a pro here.


13. Remove any excess

Finally, make sure you’re not building up product too much by using a dry spoolie through your lashes to brush off any excess after applying your mascara.  This will mean you don’t have too much to remove later.


Pro tip: When picking your perfect eye makeup remover, look out for the right ingredients. “One of the most commonly found and dangerous ingredients in makeup removers are harsh preservatives like benzalkonium chloride. It’s a preservative/disinfectant/antimicrobial ingredient, which has its value, but can be extremely irritating to the eye,” explains Dr Hilal-Campo.


Image – Anna/Adobe


The takeaway

Whilst it might just be the most stubborn product in your makeup bag, waterproof mascara prolongs our eye makeup look and allows us to cry without anyone noticing (unless you’re ugly crying watching The Notebook for the 64th time – just me?).

Despite it being tricky to remove, there are ways to take it off easily and carefully without damaging your lashes or irritating your skin. For example, consider using an oil-based product and remember to be very gentle.

Applying waterproof mascara can influence how long it takes to remove. Think: thin coats, clean mascara brushes and zero clumps. The cleaner your lashes before you start, the less overloaded your application will be, which will therefore lead to an easier removal process. 


Meet the experts 

Amy Galloway is an LA-based makeup artist whose work has been featured in the like of Harper’s Bazar.  She shares her stunning work with her more than 40,000 Instagram followers


Ashley Nichole Gibson is a licensed aesthetician and makeup artist who owns Paraposh, which provides on-site makeup services. Specialising in bridal makeup, her experience also extends to training and education for cosmetic brands, conducting master classes at Ulta, and working as a makeup artist at QVC for beauty brands.


Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo is a board-certified ophthalmologist and founder of Twenty/Twenty Beauty.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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