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How Do I Choose the Best Hypoallergenic Mascara?

Special mascara ingredients used for thickening or lengthening lashes can irritate sensitive eyes.
A woman wearing hypoallergenic mascara.
A woman applying hypoallergenic mascara to her eyelashes.
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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 06 July 2014
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If you have a makeup allergy, wear contact lenses, or just have sensitive eyes, you might feel more comfortable buying hypoallergenic mascara. Choosing the best product can be a challenge, because "hypoallergenic" is not a clearly defined term. Finding the right mascara for you is often a matter of trying out different brands and evaluating how your eyes respond. Other good strategies include avoiding waterproof and colored mascaras, as well as those that contain fibers. Caring for your mascara properly can also help prevent eye irritation.

For many people who buy cosmetics, the term "hypoallergenic" is confusing. The term technically means that the product does not contain well-known allergens and is less likely to cause a reaction in people with allergies or sensitivities. There is, however, no official standard for determining whether a product is hypoallergenic in the United States and most other countries. This means that there is no single list of ingredients that cannot be used. One cosmetic company's hypoallergenic products may contain the exact same ingredients as another company's regular ones. This means that consumers who suffer from sensitive or allergic eyes need to pay more attention to other label information rather than simply relying on what the packaging says.

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When assessing whether a mascara is a good option for sensitive eyes, you should look out for words like waterproof, lengthening, and thickening. The ingredients used to make a mascara with lengthening or thickening powers can irritate eyes. These products often use fibers that can easily flake off and get into your eyes. The same is true for waterproof mascaras. Colored mascaras, particularly those with purple or reddish brown tones, can also trigger an eye allergy, as some people are allergic to red dyes.

In general, you should look for mascaras that have as few ingredients as possible. The shorter the ingredient list, the better, although some people with sensitive eyes have had success with tube mascaras, which use polymers that form little tubes around eyelashes and cannot flake off. Buy sample sizes or ask for a sample when buying other cosmetics at a department store cosmetic counter. Keep the ingredient list of all the mascaras that you try, as this can help you narrow down those items that give you problems. Keep in mind that even a truly hypoallergenic mascara can get contaminated by bacteria if you leave the tube open or simply let the mascara get old.

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Discuss this Article

anon335983
Post 9

@Bhutan: Sounds like you work for these companies! I've used Clinique mascara and had allergic reactions on my eyelids. The mascara was new and it still affected me.

Mykol
Post 8

When it comes to mascara I have also heard you are not supposed to pump the wand in the tube, but slowly turn it to coat it with the mascara. I think it was something to do with air getting in the tube when you pump it that causes bacteria.

I have had an eye infection so am very cautious about what I put on and around my eyes. I will pay more money for hypoallergenic mascara because this is the only kind of mascara I have found that doesn't irritate my eyes.

I don't wear nearly as much eye makeup as I used to. I still like a little bit of mascara on my lashes but don't coat them with 2-3 coats of mascara like I did in the past.

myharley
Post 7

You know, I consider myself a label reader, but have never read the list of ingredients on the tube of my mascara. I know it is best to avoid waterproof mascara because it is so hard on your lashes, but really don't even know what is in mascara. There must be a certain ingredient that is not included in hypoallergenic mascara since it is better for those with sensitive eyes. I think I will start paying closer attention to the mascara I use and understand what ingredients are used to make it.

SarahSon
Post 6
My eyes are sensitive to any kind of makeup I wear. Because of this, I only wear eye makeup on special occasions. I buy hypoallergenic mascara but because I use it so seldom, one tube of this lasts me a long time.

If I buy a cheap brand of mascara I can tell a difference right away. In just a few minutes my eyes will start itching until I remove the mascara.

sunshined
Post 5

I have heard you are supposed to replace your mascara every 90 days or so. Even if your tube is not empty, it is important to change your mascara often. I am not very good at this and will use a tube until it is completely dry. I have never had any eye problems and have never specifically looked for hypoallergenic mascara.

helene55
Post 4

@widget2010, I have heard that also. Things like waterproof and smudge proof mascara can be especially damaging to lashes, because they have more protective coatings and other ingredients that are often not totally natural. If you do insist on using something on your eyes, though, using a lash brush and/or a lash curler can do the job with practice.

widget2010
Post 3

The use of mascara can actually reduce the growth of your eyelashes, whether you have allergy problems or not. Many make up artists recommend only using mascara for special occasions, and avoiding highly complicated types- a simple brand, or simple hypoallergenic if that is what you need, applied with only 1-3 coats, is best for a good effect.

Denha
Post 2

@Bhutan, in addition to aging your face, applying mascara to the lower layer can increase the risk of infection to your eye, because it is easier for allergens and bacteria to get in there than by your upper lash line.

Bhutan
Post 1

Almay and Clinique have a series of mascara for sensitive eyes. Hypoallergenic makeup generally has no fragrance and these happen to be the best brands.

They also have the best waterproof mascara that tends to be hard on the lashes. Clinique also has high impact mascara that is one of the best lengthening mascaras out on the market.

It is lengthening mascara that makes your lashes appear fuller. The nice thing about this mascara is that it does not smudge and stays on all day.

I always heard the applying mascara on the top layer of lashes is best when you are over thirty because applying on the bottom of the lashes tends to offer a shadow that slightly ages your face.

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