Long, luscious lashes are top of most beauty looks, whether you’re going for daytime natural or full-on, after dark glam. And waterproof mascara has become the must-have beauty product to achieve the ultimate doe-eyed look.

The water-resistant, stay-on formula can withstand sweat, tears and everything in-between but does the health of your eyelashes pay the price for all that gorgeous staying power?

We dip our mascara wand into the debate and ask – is waterproof mascara bad for your eyelashes?

Is Using Waterproof Mascara Safe?

All makeup goes through rigorous testing to ensure it can be used on humans, so yes, waterproof mascara is in general safe to use. However, the waterproof nature of its formula means it can be harsh on your delicate eyelashes, both when wearing it and when it comes to taking it off.

Before we look at why waterproof mascara can be potentially damaging to eyelashes, let’s look at what is in its stay-put/won’t budge formula. It is actually two types of ingredients that give waterproof mascara its staying power when faced with sweat, tears and water.

girl using mascara

Look at the Ingredients

Most waterproof mascaras contain the emollient isododecane and the silicone compound cyclopentasiloxane (or similar ingredients) which make the product much more resilient against moisture than regular mascara. However, in return for such durability, these ingredients can also have a drying effect on eyelashes and in the long run make them brittle, so susceptible to breaking and even falling out.

Another potential issue with waterproof mascara is that due to its staying power, it needs a little more effort to remove at the end of the day. As it sticks so well to the eyelashes, you need to rub harder to remove waterproof mascara using harsher cleansers which can damage and weaken your eyelashes over time. Removing waterproof mascara can also irritate the delicate skin area around the eyes.

When And How Should I Use It?

The secret to getting the best out of your waterproof mascara without ruining your lashes is not to wear it every day. Wear a waterproof formula every day and the waxes and silicone it contains will gradually dry out your eyelashes, leaving them brittle and prone to breaking.

The best solution is to wear the product in the hot, damp or rainy conditions that brings out its best. So, this makes waterproof mascara ideal for those summer days when you need to look your best or for special occasions when you need a stay-put product that can withstand sweat and tears!

A good tip during the summer is to wear your regular mascara during the week, and then step up your look with the waterproof variety for the weekend. And giving your eyes and lashes a regular break from the harsher ingredients in waterproof mascaras will help to prevent any damage and give you the best of both worlds – gorgeous, flutter proof eyelashes that will look good and feel healthy all year round.

May I Sleep With The Mascara On?

Sleeping in mascara, even the regular type, as well as makeup in general is a skin health no-no and it should always be removed last thing at night before you go to bed.

Going to bed in your waterproof mascara will continue the drying out effect on your lashes as you sleep, as well as put your eyes at risk of potential infection, due to the build-up of sweat and dirt that can collect in the mascara fibers during the day.

And as waterproof mascara contains ingredients that make your eyelashes stiffer than regular mascara, your rigid lashes can bend and even break against your pillow as you sleep.

Finally, let’s not forget the unintentional goth look of smeared makeup in the morning, which can irritate your eyes, be detrimental to your skin and need careful cleansing with makeup remover in the morning.

girl removing makeup

How to Remove Waterproof Mascara

While it may be quick and easy to put on, waterproof mascara needs a little more thought and attention than non-waterproof mascara when it comes to taking it off so you don’t harm your delicate lashes. And this is because done badly or with the wrong makeup remover products, and removing waterproof mascara can also cause more damage to your already fragile eyelashes.

Using Waterproof Makeup Removers

Such a durable makeup product will need one of the specially formulated makeup removers to ensure it is wiped clean and so most waterproof mascara removers are oil-based. Try a normal, water-based remover and you will quickly discover they are no match for the staying power of waterproof mascaras!

Removing Waterproof Mascara – Step by Step

The best way to remove your waterproof mascara is to start with a soft cotton pad, soaked with your chosen oil-based eye makeup remover, and place on the eye area for a few seconds to let the product soak into the lashes. Then gently wipe the eyes with the pad, without rubbing, pulling or dragging the lashes or delicate skin. Repeat until the pad is clear and all the waterproof mascara is removed.

To finish, wipe the eyes and lashes with another cotton pad, containing a gentle face cleanser to remove any last traces of oil and loose mascara fibers.

Using more natural removers

While they may not be as effective as deeply cleansing away the waterproof mascara, natural products such as coconut oil can gently soften the mascara as a ‘pre-clean’ and then also nourish and hydrate the eyelashes once they have been thoroughly cleansed.

Don’t Forget to Condition Your Eyelashes

Whether you use waterproof or water-resistant mascara, regular mascara or both, getting into a daily beauty routine of conditioning your bare eyelashes can really boost their health and leave you with a super-soft flutter. Natural conditioning oils such as coconut, or specially formulated eyelash serums or primer can also strengthen each lash and help to stimulate growth, meaning your waterproof mascara goes on easily and boosts that head-turning, long lash look.

Waterproof Mascaras – the Final Word

Waterproof mascaras are wonderful addition to any eye makeup bag and can really add long lasting va-va-voom to your look. But used too often and you can undo all that eye-fluttering hard work by damaging and even breaking your eyelashes as they become too dehydrated.

So, while in principle waterproof mascara is safe to use, you should minimize any potential long-term damage to your eyelashes by limiting how often you use the product. And you can ensure the health of your lashes by always thoroughly cleansing your eyes without rubbing, using waterproof mascara remover products at the end of the day.