2021 Complete Guide to Choosing The Best Eyeliner For Sensitive Eyes

We’ve all been there. We spend what feels like forever applying the perfect cat eye to finish off our glam. We’re looking superb and feeling confident until our eyes start to water, and we have to kiss our immaculately applied wings goodbye! A good eyeliner can be hard to find, especially for those with sensitive eyes. To save you trouble, and money, we’ve rounded up the pick of the crop to help you find the best eyeliner for sensitive eyes. Let’s dive in.

Girl wearing eyeliner after choosing the best eyeliner for sensitive eyes.

Ingredients to Avoid When Choosing an Eyeliner

The skin around our eyes is ultrasensitive, especially our waterline. You shouldn’t apply just any old eyeliner to your delicate eye area. And that includes the eyeliner from years ago that lives in the back of your makeup bag!

If you don’t want to be blinking or tearing up all night, it’s important to look for an eyeliner that won’t irritate your eyes. Eyeliners containing these ingredients are often the culprits for causing a reaction for those with sensitive eyes, so avoid them at all costs!

No-Go Ingredients: 

  • Formaldehyde
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole
  • Parabens
  • Carbon black
  • Prime yellow carnauba wax

Tips for Choosing the Best Eyeliner For Sensitive Eyes

Now you know what ingredients you should avoid at all costs, what should you look for when choosing an eyeliner?

If you’re prone to irritation, the last thing you want is your cat-eye dripping into your eyes in the rain or humidity. For that reason, it’s best to opt for a waterproof eyeliner to save your poor eyes from enduring even more irritation! 

Opt for a hypoallergenic eyeliner where possible. Hypoallergenic means that the eyeliner has fewer allergy-causing ingredients than other products, which is a must for those with sensitive eyes.

Lasting, choosing a cruelty-free, vegan eyeliner is also a safe bet for those prone to sensitivity. While it won’t guarantee there will be no irritation, vegan eyeliners generally have less harmful chemicals than non-vegan eyeliners.

Our Top Picks for The Best Eyeliner For Sensitive Eyes

The Best Affordable Eyeliner:

NYX PROFESSIONAL Epic Ink Liner, Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

This cruelty-free, vegan Epic Ink Liner by NYX Professional has a sharp, precision tip allowing you to apply a cat eye with ease. With over 41,000 ratings on Amazon, this affordable liner is a crowd fave! You don’t have to worry about your eyeliner smudging off in the rain or during a tear-jerking movie. It has a waterproof, long-lasting formula that will have your eyes looking on point all night long.

Best For Ultra-Sensitive Eyes:

Neutrogena Nourishing Eyeliner Pencil

Neutrogena’s Nourishing Eyeliner Pencil features a luminous, bold, and long-lasting color that enhances the natural look of your eyes. It’s gentle and safe for contact lens wearers and those prone to irritation. Plus, it’s dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested and formulated with olive oil and shea butter for a smooth application that glides on. Those with sensitive eyes will want to snap this one up!

The Best Eyeliner Set:

Urban Decay Super-Size 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil Set

This award-winning eyeliner set comes in three bold colors – black, brown, and grey. It has a waterproof, creamy formula while still delivering intense HD color that doesn’t budge. You can say goodbye to watery, red eyes, as this eyeliner contains hydrating, nourishing ingredients. Jojoba oil and cottonseed oil condition and soften the skin, while vitamin E moisturizes the lash line.

Best For Long Wear:

Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Eyeliner

You’ve probably heard the raved reviews of Too Faced’s cult fave “Better Than Sex Mascara.” You can rest assured, their Better Than Sex Waterproof Eyeliner is just as good. The waterproof eyeliner glides on smoothly and delivers an intense, sharp jet-black line every time. You don’t have to worry about smudging or fading, as it lasts for up to 24 hours! 

Best Hypoallergenic Eyeliner:

Almay Liquid Eyeliner, Waterproof and Longwearing

Almay’s Liquid Eyeliner features a water-resistant formula that lasts for up to 16 hours. It won’t fade, smudge, or smear, either. Ophthalmologist tested, it is suitable for those with sensitive eyes & contact lenses, and is fragrance-free, cruelty-free, clean, and hypoallergenic! With 4.5 stars on Amazon and over 2000 reviews, this popular eyeliner will be a saving grace for those prone to eyeliner irritation. 

The Best Natural Eyeliner:

BURTS BEES Onyx Defining Retractable Eyeliner

This defining eyeliner is specially formulated for the delicate eye area. It has a gel-like feel that glides on effortlessly for an intense color payoff. Burt’s Bees aims to provide natural eye makeup, free of petrolatum, parabens, phthalates, SLS, or synthetic fragrances. It’s made with nourishing ingredients like shea butter and jojoba oil, that condition the lashes. 

Best Eyeliner Pot:

e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner, Water-Resistant Smudge-Proof

Are you someone that prefers using an eyeliner pot to apply your wing? If so, the Cream Eyeliner by e.l.f is a great choice for those with sensitive eyes. It allows you to switch up makeup brushes to opt for an ultra-thin line or a thick cat eye for a night out! The water-resistant, smudge-proof formula stays on through all it all, rain, tears, and sweat included. The eyeliner is vegan, cruelty-free, and PETA allowing you to feel good about using your new fave eyeliner pot. 

Girl choosing the right brush after reading the guide to makeup brushes.

Tips For Applying Eyeliner to Sensitive Eyes

While choosing a hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, vegan eyeliner is a safe bet, its no guarantee there will be zero irritation. But what you can do, is take extra care in your application to avoid any reaction and sensitivity! 

  • Before applying your eyeliner, test it on your hand and watch for an allergic reaction.
  • Use an eyeliner that glides on, so you don’t have to press too hard on your delicate eye area.
  • Avoid the waterline and the inner corner to ensure the product doesn’t get into your eyes. 
  • Clean your eyeliner with a makeup wipe in between uses.
  • Remove your eyeliner with a good makeup remover at the end of the day! 

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About Jurnee

Jurnee is a writer and creative from New Zealand passionate about covering health, wellness, and fashion.