Best mascara for sensitive eyes 2022: Voluminous lashes without any tears

Antonina Adamou
28 Sep 2022

Tired, dry or allergy-ridden peepers? Our pick of the best mascaras for sensitive eyes deliver plenty of drama without any pain

One of the most significant steps in any makeup routine – and one that can make a huge difference to your overall look– is applying mascara. Unfortunately, for some, mascara formulations can cause eyes to water endlessly and even sting. If you’ve struggled to find a mascara that achieves the look you want but without the irritation, then read on to discover the best mascaras for sensitive eyes.

Since mascara first appeared on shop shelves way back in 1872, it’s become a makeup bag staple. Whether you’re trying to achieve a full-on fake lash look, or something more natural, it’s one product that most just won’t be without. 

However, if you’ve steered clear in the past because you have sensitive eyes, then it’s high time you checked out the numerous mascaras designed for those with delicate peepers in mind. These formulas comprise gentle, non-irritating and nourishing ingredients, with even waterproof versions that won’t result in panda eyes if you suffer from hayfever and other allergies.

If you’re craving long, luscious lashes without the irritation, then read on for our picks. First, our buying guide decodes the jargon and reveals what to look for when buying the best mascara for sensitive eyes.  

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Best mascara for sensitive eyes: At a glance

How to choose the best mascara for sensitive eyes

What features should I look for in a mascara for sensitive eyes?

Hypoallergenic – If you’re unsure about what, in particular, is causing your eye sensitivity, a good place to start would be to choose a mascara that’s labelled as “hypoallergenic”. This means that the product has been created using ingredients that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Most hypoallergenic mascaras have fragrance-free formulas and exclude known irritants such as alcohol, thickening agents, parabens, sulphates and/or phthalates.

Ophthalmologically tested - For additional reassurance when choosing a mascara for sensitive eyes, look for formulas that are “ophthalmologically tested”, which means that the product has been professionally tested and approved by an eye doctor. Other sensitive mascaras may not be tested by eye doctors, but could be “dermatologically tested”, which means they’ve been through dermatological testing to ensure the product is suitable for use on sensitive skin.

Waterproof - A mascara that’s waterproof can help those with sensitive eyes because it won’t smudge or run into the eye at the first sign of a tear. Those with allergies that tend to make them sneeze or tear up are better off with a waterproof mascara.

Easy removal - Vigorously scrubbing or tugging at eyelashes can lead to the delicate eye area becoming inflamed and lash loss or breakage. Ultimately, you want to ensure you find a mascara that’s fuss-free to remove, resulting in less discomfort to the eye.

Natural ingredients - Plus points go to mascaras that have oil-enriched formulas and conditioning vitamins. Not only are these best for sensitive eyes as a result of their natural formulations, but they will be most effective for long-lasting lash health, too.

Can everyone benefit from a mascara designed for sensitive eyes?

Yes, very much so. Many people who don’t have sensitive eyes also opt for hypoallergenic, or ophthalmologically tested mascaras as a precaution. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve accidentally rubbed eyes with makeup on. A more gentle or hypoallergenic formula is less likely to cause your eyes to water than a regular mascara. 

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The best mascara for sensitive eyes to buy in 2022

1. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Mascara for Sensitive Eyes: Best overall mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

For a mascara that delivers on all fronts – a volume boost, extreme hold and complete coverage for very sensitive eyes – the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Mascara might just be a non-negotiable staple for your makeup bag. Enriched with a unique revitalising serum containing hydrating jojoba oil and arginine, this formula claims to protect precious lashes from breakage and stress. 

It also benefits from technology that extends lashes, essentially creating a thicker lash fringe that acts as a barrier against irritators entering the eye. This innovative tech means you can achieve the voluminous look you desire, without lashes feeling weighed down. Delivering both glamour and comfort for the eyes, thanks to its minimal, thoroughly tested ingredients, this mascara is hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested, so you can achieve the wow factor without the tears.

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: No (it’s dermatologically tested); Key ingredients: Ceramides, arginine, carnauba wax; Colours: Black

2. Rimmel Kind and Free Clean Mascara: Best budget mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £10 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Rimmel has created its first ever clean beauty line called Kind and Free. This range of products is 100% vegan, fragrance free and kind to the planet. Made with 99% naturally derived ingredients, Rimmel's first clean mascara claims to achieve voluminous lashes that last all day long, while delivering volume and length for up to 36 hours. This gentle conditioning formula is infused with organic shea butter and biotin, both of which are great for nourishing lashes and encouraging them to grow, too.

No one is a fan of a flaky mascara, and this mascara is superb for everyday wear, going on smooth and achieving a natural, clump-free look with perfectly judged volume. It’s smudge and flake-proof, too, staying put even after hours of wear. 

Thanks to its impressively clean profile and gentle ingredients, it won’t cause any irritation and it comes in at an extremely reasonable price, too. 

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: No; Key ingredients: Biotin (vitamin B7); Colours: Black, brown

Buy now from Look Fantastic

3. Lancôme Hypnôse Waterproof Mascara: Best waterproof mascara for sensitive lashes

Price: £29 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

If you’re looking for staying power and beautifully curled lashes, Lancôme’s Hypnôse mascara should be high on your shopping list. With its long-lasting waterproof formula, this mascara stays firm in any weather – and this is the reason it’s been a cult favourite for many years. 

Those with sensitive eyes will often find the harsh formulas of some waterproof mascaras unsuitable, but Lancôme Hypnôse has been made from ingredients that have been ophthalmologically tested for extra peace of mind. The unique SoftSculpt formula is enriched with pro-vitamin B5, too, which leaves lashes feeling soft and supple once dry; no crunchy finish here.

Thanks to its easy-to-use precision brush, which evenly coats each individual lash, this mascara delivers improved length, volume and lash separation.  With Lancôme Hypnôse you can achieve a dramatic wide-eyed appearance that’s perfect for an evening out, or even a long day at the office. 

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Pro-vitamin B5; Colours: Black, brown

Buy now from Look Fantastic

4. MAC Extended Play Lash Mascara Gigablack: Best long-wearing mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £20 | Buy now from Boots

Any makeup bag would be incomplete without at least one product from MAC, and the Extended Play Lash mascara is a must-have. The long-lasting formula intensifies lashes, and since it’s both sweat- and humidity-proof, you can look super-glam, even while taking that spin class. 

Combining its advanced lifting formula with a unique brush that features microsphere-embedded bristles, lashes are coated from root to tip, bringing definition and extra length that lasts all day. 

Getting a seal of approval by ophthalmologists, it’s safe to use for sensitive eyes, and despite its refusal to budge during the day, it washes off easily with warm water. 

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol); Colours: Black

Buy now from Boots

5. Maybelline The Falsies Instant Lash Lift: Best voluminous mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £11 | Buy now from Boots

Maybelline is the UK’s number one mascara brand, so you won’t go wrong if you chose a product from its range. If your sensitive eyes are begging you to skip the false lashes (applying lash glue is simply asking for watery, irritated eyes), opt for Maybelline’s The Falsies Instant Lash Lift Mascara, which delivers a salon-style lift effect without any tears.

With the help of the double-curved brush, the formula coats lashes for dramatic length and volume that will last all night long. Minus any flakiness or clumps, either.

Ophthalmologist tested and infused with gentle and nourishing jojoba oil, this is definitely a mascara worth considering – and the price is right, too.

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Jojoba oil; Colours: Black

Buy now from Boots

6. Clinique Lash Power Mascara: Best lengthening mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £23 | Buy now from Boots

The unique tapered brush of the Lash Power mascara by Clinique reaches and lengthens even the tiniest lashes, allowing anyone to achieve long, fluttery lashes without any clumps or clogginess. Hairs are evenly coated and separated, and you can create the look you want – natural or bold – by the number of layers you choose to apply. This mascara is a “tubing” mascara, which essentially means it wraps each lash in a tube of mascara. 

When it comes to formulations designed for sensitive skin, you can count on Clinique; the company ensures that its products are tested through every stage of production. This award-winning mascara has been ophthalmologist tested, is hypoallergenic and fragrance free, making it a great option for those with even the most sensitive eyes. 

And if you fear the long-wearing mascara might take some elbow grease to remove, you needn’t worry: either warm water and a cotton pad or flannel will do the job. 

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Jojoba oil; Colours: Black, brown

Buy now from Boots

7. Green People Volumising Mascara: Best organic mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £20 | Buy now from Green People

Many are now choosing to go green, embracing an organic lifestyle, and this extends to skincare and makeup products too. Green People uses natural ingredients such as vitamin E, sunflower oil and organic beeswax to fortify its products, with its volumising mascara delivering all the irritation-free nourishment your lashes could wish for. 

This volumising mascara contains rich, natural pigments to achieve bold and defined lashes. Its super-concentrated formula means that a little goes a long way, so you won’t be standing at the mirror applying coat after coat. The inclusion of beeswax means that this mascara isn’t vegan, but the benefit is that it’s naturally water repellent and less likely to smudge. It’s easy to remove at the end of the day, too. 

The natural formula of this mascara has a low allergen profile, meaning it’s possible to achieve bold, dramatic lashes without the irritation.

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Vitamin E, beeswax; Colours: Black, brown

Buy now from Green People

8. Burt's Bees 100% Natural Nourishing Mascara: Best eco-friendly mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

Burt’s Bees has become synonymous with “gentle” thanks to the natural ingredients found in its products. This 100% naturally formulated mascara includes cruelty-free ingredients and arrives in recycled and recyclable packaging, so you can have beautiful lashes while doing your bit for the planet. And free of parabens, phthalates, SLS, petrolatum or synthetic fragrances, it will keep sensitive eyes looking beautiful without becoming red or irritated.

Its nourishing ingredients include hydrating jojoba oil and glycerin (also found in our skin), which are gentle enough for delicate eyes but which work to strengthen and condition lashes. In fact, the former is one of the most popular oils for eyelash health, being rich in vitamin E. Not only will it help moisturise lashes, it protects the hair follicles, too, allowing eyelashes to grow long and thick. This mascara is easy and convenient to use and available in both black and brown to suit all eye colours and skin tones.

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes (no synthetic fragrances); Long wearing: No; Ophthalmologist tested: Yes; Key ingredients: Vitamin E from jojoba oil; Colours: Black, brown

9. Chantecaille Longest Lash Faux Cils Mascara: Best luxury mascara for sensitive eyes

Price: £64 | Buy now from SpaceNK

If you’re looking to indulge, this premium mascara from Chantecaille is a worthy contender. Rich in mineral salts, seaweed extract and soothing rosewater, this formula will not only protect the eye area, but also keep lashes nourished and healthy. With a low allergen profile, this mascara is free of parabens, phthalate and fragrances, making it ideal for sensitive eyes.

The price might make you wince, but for that money you’re getting a mascara that delivers a super-volumising look, amplifying and defining every single lash, even the tiniest of hairs. And if that striking and bold look without smudging, clumping, or flaking wasn’t enough, this 2-in-1 mascara doubles up as an eyelash lengthening serum, too. 

An innovative and powerful peptide technology stimulates eyelash growth while you’re wearing it and it promises results after just two weeks of use.

Key details – Fragrance free: Yes; Long wearing: Yes; Ophthalmologist tested: No; Key ingredients: Peptides, mineral salts, seaweed extract, rosewater; Colours: Black

Buy now from SpaceNK

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