Life Style

How to Remove Waterproof Eyeliner Without Scrubbing and Tugging

Close up of a woman's eye with a graphic eyeliner look

Our eye area is among the most delicate and sensitive spots on our faces—but this hasn’t deterred us from wearing eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and more.

While we encourage being as creative as one wants when it comes to eye makeup looks, there are a few things to remember when removing them, especially if they include waterproof eyeliner. It’s imperative to treat the skin around the eyes delicately and with care, avoiding pulling, tugging, or any kind of aggressive methods of removal. Why? When the skin around our eyes is pulled and tugged regularly, it can damage collagen and even cause our eyelids to wrinkle faster.

If you’re a big fan of wearing waterproof eyeliner and eye makeup, that’s fine; we just want to ensure you’re removing it the right way. Ahead, with the help of celebrity makeup artist Misha Shahzada, we’ve compiled a list of tips to ensure your waterproof eyeliner comes off with little to no hassle.


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Double Cleanse Away

Double cleansing is not as complicated as it may sound. It is the process of cleansing the face twice—first with an oil-based product and then with a water-based cleanser—and is known to be one of the most effective ways to remove your makeup and cleanse the skin.

The oil-based cleanser will help break down stubborn makeup and debris before you move on to your water-based cleanser. Oil cleansers come in different formulas (some are liquid, others are balms) that break down when massaged onto the skin.

Shahzada touts this method as a favorite for removing makeup: “I always suggest double cleansing when using heavy makeup or anything waterproof to guarantee everything is removed,” she says. “I use this method on myself and will start by using a cleansing oil to gently strip away the stubborn makeup, followed by a water-based cleanser.” For double cleansing, Hydrating Face Cleanser ($45) from Costa Brazil is excellent at removing stubborn eye makeup.

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Use the Right Eye Makeup Removers

If you can’t double cleanse and need something to remove waterproof eyeliner more quickly, there are options. Using an eye makeup remover that is formulated to help break down waterproof formulas is a great way to jumpstart the removal process. The Makeup Melt Eye Makeup Remover Gel ($15) from Bliss helps to melt away waterproof liner and more; apply it to a cotton pad and gently press on the eyes before swiping the makeup away, repeating the process as many times as you need. Other options include Chanel’s Gentle Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover ($37), which removes waterproof eyeliner and is suitable for sensitive eyes, and La Roche Posay’s Respectissime Eye Makeup Remover ($16), which offers great value.

“When removing waterproof eyeliner, look for an oil-based remover. This will help break down the eyeliner easily,” Shahzada suggests. “I also suggest that you close your eyes and press a cotton pad with the remover on the eye area for 10-20 seconds per eye. This allows the makeup to glide off easily without any excess tugging or loss of eyelashes.”

If you find that your eyeliner is a tad stubborn and needs more time, that’s ok; you can repeat these steps until everything has come off. Shisheido’s Instant Eye and Lip Makeup Remover ($30) is a favorite of Shahzada’s when time is of the essence, as it quickly helps to remove waterproof eyeliner, mascara, and bold lipsticks.

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Don’t Sleep On it

Whichever methods you choose to use in the removal of your waterproof liner, it’s crucial that you don’t sleep in your eye makeup. Sleeping in your makeup can wreak havoc on your skin, and more importantly, can irritate your eyes and subject you to more germs and possible infections and redness, which you definitely don’t want.

A good rule is to always have makeup wipes by your bed, on your nightstand, or on your dresser to help remove makeup at the end of a long day or night if you’re not up for fully washing your face. While cleansing and fully removing your makeup is best, wipes will at least help you make sure you don’t go to sleep with a full face.

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If You Have Sensitive Skin

Many people have sensitive skin and eyes, so it’s a great idea to use waterproof eyeliners that cater to this if you want to play up your eyes but are nervous about how your skin will react.

Shopping for waterproof liners specifically formulated for sensitive skin is your first step in avoiding unnecessary reactions. The Infinity Waterproof Eyeliner ($22) from Thrive Causemetics is hypoallergenic and tested by both ophthalmologists and dermatologists to be non-irritating. The same goes for removers; find ones that are gentle but pack a powerful punch when removing waterproof liners, such as the Cleansing Micellar Water ($55) from La Mer.

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Make it Fun

Removing your eyeliner doesn’t need to be an arduous process that you dislike. We know you spend a lot of time applying your makeup and the thought of removing it can be, well, not the most exciting thing to look forward to.

Instead of dreading it, make it fun instead. Removing your makeup can be something relaxing you do every evening. Light a candle, take some extra time to massage your skin when cleansing, and maybe follow up with a nice face mask to soothe and hydrate your skin. These are just a few ways you can elevate a mundane chore. The more you enjoy and look forward to the process, the more you’ll stay on track when it comes to removing your waterproof makeup every night. You’ve got this.

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