The Best Makeup Removers for Sensitive Eyes

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best eye makeup removers sensitive

My eyes don’t particularly like it when I wear a lot of makeup. Killjoys! They’ve always been a bit whiney and sensitive when it comes to being caked in powder shadows, rimmed in kohl pencil and battered about with a spiky mascara wand. I remember the tears that streamed down my face on my very first modelling shoot – I wasn’t crying because I had experienced a premonition of the years to come, standing in the freezing cold wearing nothing but a pair of “concept dungarees” (don’t) and five inch Louboutins, I was crying because my eyes were rejecting every single molecule of makeup that dared go anywhere near them.

When you think about it, you can’t really blame eyes for being sensitive. They’re a) really important and necessary body parts but b) at the same time really delicate and vulnerable. Jelly orbs with easily pierced surfaces. Squishy blobs with intricate lenses. And they’re just sitting there in the fronts of our heads, like little spherical aliens riding side by side in their alien spaceship. Nothing between them and the outside world apart from eyelids which – let’s be honest – aren’t exactly the most robust form of protection. So imagine being this little alien with a jelly skin and then people coming at you with pointy pencils and mascara wands that look like instruments of torture. Wanging about big brushes that throw coloured pigment all over you and then painting jet black lines in your “waterline” – GO AWAY! – and then, introducing the biggest monstrosity of all, the thing that would strike fear into any jelly alien’s heart: the Gargantuan Iron Clamp.

I rarely curl my lashes with an eyelash curler and that’s mostly out of principal. I hated it so much when I was a jobbing model that I swore I would never do it voluntarily. And although I appreciate the eye-lifting effects of a properly curled lash, I don’t want or need those effects enough to put myself through the anguish of clamping my fragile lashes between two metal jaws. The number of times my eyelids were pinched! Good God. Horrendous. It’s the female equivalent of getting a bit of willy stuck in a trouser zip.

best eye makeup removers sensitive

I digress: eyes. My eyes don’t like lots of makeup and they especially hate it being taken back off again. So I’ve tried loads and loads of makeup removers in the attempt to find ones that are gentle but that still remove stubborn makeup.

(I love the phrase “stubborn makeup”.

 – Lisa Lipstick, you get in for your tea RIGHT THIS MINUTE! 


I’ll melt you down in the bleeding slow cooker you little sod!)

best eye makeup removers sensitive

Here are the cleansers that will treat your eyes as they were meant to be treated – great for those with sensitive skin, for contact lens wearers or indeed anyone who wants gentle makeup removal. With all of these products, soak the cotton wool pad and hold over your eye area for at least ten seconds before trying to wipe. It reduces the amount of times you have to rub your eyes and gives the cleansers time to dissolve the makeup.

best eye makeup removers sensitive

Exhibit A: La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, £11 here*

This stuff is the absolute business. The bi-phase formula (oily and watery parts that you shake together) gets off waxy mascara as well as liner and long-lasting shadows but it doesn’t irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes or the ‘balls themselves. (Can one shorten eyeballs to “balls” in a sentence where you’ve already used up your “eye” quota? Let’s see if it catches on.)

best eye makeup removers sensitive

LRP also do a genius little product in their Toleriane range; the Monodose makeup remover. This one is for the very sensitive and it contains no preservatives, so each dose of liquid is packaged in a one-use, sterile capsule. Not the most eco-friendly packaging, admittedly, but it would be hard to see how you’d dispense this any differently. If you really have very intolerant skin and have to minimise possible triggers then this makeup remover is brilliant. It won’t do heavy-duty makeup or difficult mascaras but for everyday, light makeup usage it’s the dream. Find it at Escentual here* – £15 for 30 individual doses.

best eye makeup removers sensitive

Exhibit B: Talika Gentle Eye Cleanser, £21 at Space NK here*

This one, like the Monodoses, won’t cut through very heavy eye makeup but it’s so gentle and soothing that it’s well worth a try for those who wear their cosmetics in non-industrial amounts. I’ve just realised that I reviewed this years ago – I’ve repurchased a few times since then and I still haven’t found anything to replace it with. I find it every so slightly more soothing than the LRP one (Exhibit A) but it’s more expensive and not nearly as powerful. Swings and roundabouts!

best eye makeup removers sensitive

Exhibit C: B Stubborn Makeup Remover, £7.99 at Superdrug here*

This sexy beast of a remover is currently half price – £3.95 – which makes it even more exciting. It’s not specifically formulated for sensitive eyes and skin but I find it absolutely fine – most strong removers make little red patches flare up on my undereyes but nothing like that here. No greasy residue, no irritation, just incredibly effective makeup removal. If your eyes are less tolerant than mine then LRP may be your way forward, but this stuff is cheap as chips and really worth a try if you’re watching your pennies.

Right, I feel as though I’ve exhausted this topic for the moment. Aliens, clamps, torture instruments and lipstick murders… If you’re after a great eye cream for sensitive skin then I can highly recommend the Echium one from Pai, here.

Read more:

Soothing Skincare for Sensitive Eyes

The £80 Eye Mask Dupe


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  1. Olivia
    June 28, 2019 / 11:10 pm

    Wow I’m so surprised by this – I’m really badly allergic to the la Roche posay eye makeup remover. Is there anything you’d recommend for someone who is allergic to nearly everything in makeup remover?

  2. December 6, 2018 / 9:22 am

    I used only creams for that purpose but i think i’ll try these out.

    • October 29, 2018 / 11:33 am

      I used it as a serum, so with a lightweight moisturiser on top. Toleriane Fluid is nice. xx

  3. October 6, 2018 / 1:42 pm

    La Roche-Posay is very useful and effective eye makeup remover. I will use it as soon as possible. It is most of the favorite brand for many people.

  4. October 1, 2018 / 12:06 pm

    I love La Roche Posay, it’s one of my favourite skincare brands.

  5. September 24, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    “the female equivalent” hahaha girl I am dying!!!

  6. Cath
    September 24, 2018 / 9:45 am

    I love B Stubborn Makeup Remover! I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere before so I’ve always felt as though I’m in on some sort of great undiscovered secret. I have annoyingly irritable, sensitive, watery ‘balls (see what you’ve started here?) and this is absolutely the only stuff I’ve ever found that doesn’t leave them greasy/sore/still covered in smudgy mascara (and yes I’m looking at YOU Body Shop Camomile eye makeup remover – STINGY!), and you don’t need to scrub away hard. I usually buy it when it’s on two for one which makes it even more of a bargain than it already is.

    • September 24, 2018 / 10:14 am

      Love that ‘balls is catching on! : )

  7. Claire N
    September 24, 2018 / 3:04 am

    I too have sensitive eyes and find that even micellar water (even the Bioderma Sensibio) leaves red patches on the skin around them. I have to use oily eye make-up removers as they don’t sting or trigger the dermatitis. I do rate Halo eye make up removal pads and RMK biphase eye makeup remover though. Aldi’s Lacura pads are oily but don’t sting and are cheap as chips as well. I use tissue paper to pat away the oil afterwards. Alternatively any balm or oil cleanser also doesn’t sting eg. Trilogy balm or Caudalie oil cleanser.

    • September 24, 2018 / 10:16 am

      Oh excellent, I shall try those – thank you!! x

  8. SomeGirlMel
    September 23, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    You have to add Paula’s Choice Gentle Eye Makeup Remover to the List. Communique TTDO liquid Eye Makeup Remover is great too.

    • September 23, 2018 / 7:26 pm

      Oh great, will try that one! x

  9. Emma
    September 23, 2018 / 10:12 am

    My tuppence worth… Since Boots Botanics has the ridiculous idea to change its formula a few years back, I haven’t found a budget alternative that doesn’t result in runny eyes for a good hour or so after use. While trying to find a cheaper alternative to Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover, I tried loads, inc. La Roche Posay, Avène and Body Shop but – even with a good rinse – my eyes ran for ages after all of them. I have tried Talika in the past but didn’t get on with the thicker texture. Anyway, I found a few people selling Origins Well Off on eBay so bought a bottle and found it to be absolutely lovely. Takes everything off but isn’t harsh and no leaking eyes to rinse away my eye cream :) Only problem is, it’s no cheaper in store/online than the Clarins one so finger crossed eBay has more when I need it.

    • Olivia
      June 28, 2019 / 11:12 pm

      Yes! I’m allergic to avene and la Roche posay as well. Need to try the origins one then.

  10. SueM
    September 22, 2018 / 5:59 pm

    These sound lovely, but I’ve never met a biphasal (sic!) that I could get on with I’m afraid. The bioderma for sensitive in the pink packaging works a treat and I do wear full eye makeup most days. Having said that my absolute joy is the Sarah Chapman even though it is very dear. It’s like baby angels kissing your lids honestly and is beautiful to use on pads for a minute as a lie down. I ration it like gold dust (aforementioned price) and it doesn’t remove as well as it soothes so I save it for after a double cleanse sometimes. Apologies in advance if you try it and become an addict as well.

    • September 23, 2018 / 5:03 pm

      Oh I shall HAVE to try it now!

  11. September 22, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    I go through phases with curling my lashes: I do it for extended periods of time until I pinch my eyelid and then don’t dare to do it for months.
    For makeup removal I love the The Body Shop Chamomille version, it really gets everything off and doesn’t irritate my ´balls (totally works)

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

  12. Ivi
    September 22, 2018 / 3:43 pm

    Ruth the photos in this column are outrageous. I love that mirror too. You’ve satisfied my mid-morning requirement for great visuals and writing. Throw in that the topic is one that concerns me, YAY!

  13. Dawn
    September 22, 2018 / 11:46 am

    I have super sensitive eyes too. Exhibit 3 I find exceptionally good and budges everything. My eyes water a lot (the cold in the winter, hayfever by summer) so I have to wear really stubborn mascara or I resemble Alice Cooper. I find the Superdrug remover out performs anything and it doesn’t sting.
    I stocked up this week given the current half price.

  14. Jess
    September 22, 2018 / 3:45 am

    What do you think of Bioderma? It was always my go-to and seemed to be one of the few micellear waters that doesn’t burn my eyeballs to high heavens but I am on the prowl for something new..these offerings look v interesting, hopefully I can find one of them in Australia!

    • September 23, 2018 / 5:05 pm

      Yeah it’s great, the Sensibio one should have been on here really. x

  15. Potimarron
    September 21, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    “Little spherical aliens”… Love it. And then threatening Lisa Lipstick with the slow cooker. My husband just asked what I was giggling at. Keep it up.

  16. naima
    September 21, 2018 / 2:18 pm

    i love your writing, your personality shines through it, but i feel this sentence misses something:
    Exhibit C:
    This sexy beast of a remover is currently……..what?……. which makes it even more exciting.

    • September 21, 2018 / 4:08 pm

      Oh! It removed the price = it’s half price!!

  17. KateB
    September 21, 2018 / 1:22 pm

    I can’t bear to use metal eyelash curlers either but have had success with the Muji plastic ones – a cheaper dupe of the Laura Mercier eyelash curlers. Give them a go!

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