Here's How Makeup Artists Remove Waterproof Mascara Without Ruining Their Lashes


(Image credit: @tobimakeup)

Waterproof mascara is a rugged and resilient makeup product. It can hold its own against a teary-eyed wedding ceremony, unexpected rain, a dip in the water, (or as I’m most familiar with) a sweat-inducing 90-degree day with high humidity. It can also hold a curl better than most traditional mascara formulas, which is why people with stick-straight lashes (like yours truly), always seem to keep one or two tubes on hand. 

Like most things in life, though, it’s not perfect. In this case, its steadfastness, which is at first a blessing, can turn into a curse as soon you try to remove it. I, for one, have spent far too much time standing over my bathroom sink rubbing at my eyelashes with a cotton pad soaked in makeup remover, all but willing the mascara to go away. This is obviously less-than-ideal, considering repeated friction can be damaging to the thin skin around the eyes. It can also cause eyelashes to fall out…

The good news is you don’t have to completely forgo waterproof mascara in order to save your lashes. There are ways to remove it safely and gently. You just need to know the right technique and the right products to use. That’s where makeup artists come in. Keep scrolling to learn how to remove waterproof mascara the right way, according to three experts. 

The Waterproof Mascara-Removal Technique


(Image credit: @tobimakeup)

According to makeup artists, the key to properly removing waterproof mascara is a gentle touch (yes, really). Instead of rubbing back and forth or pulling on your lashes, enlist the help of multiple cleansing steps and oil-based products. 

Makeup artist and Stila Global Beauty Director Charlie Riddle recommends utilizing a double-cleansing method. Start with warm water and a gentle cleanser. Then, go in with a traditional eye makeup remover. "Do not pull on the lashes," he says. "Gently rub in a downward motion with a warm cloth until [the mascara is] removed." 


(Image credit: @sarah_novio)

Makeup artists Samantha Lau and Tobi Henney both say an oily makeup remover is the key to dissolving stubborn waterproof mascara without causing any unnecessary friction. "You’ll need a good quality oil-and-water-based eye makeup remover," Lau says. "Put some of the remover onto a cotton pad and you place the remover-soaked pads over your lashes. I normally let that sit for several seconds (sometimes up to 10 seconds) and then I use a gentle rocking motion to loosen up the stubborn formula. Then you wipe away. Repeat the process until you see the formula has completely dissolved." 

The Waterproof Mascara-Removal Products


(Image credit: @itsheymorgan)

What happens if you're in a pinch and you don't have any makeup remover? Easy. Go to the kitchen and grab some coconut oil. "If you have coconut oil on hand, that will help to remove [waterproof mascara]," Henney says. "Simply close your eyes, massage it over the mascara and use a warm damp flannel or cotton pads to remove." 

Just be careful to avoid getting it in your eyes. It's definitely not meant for that. As Lau puts it, only "eye makeup removers are formulated for your delicate eye area." 

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Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.