They balk at eyeliner and tear up at the sight of eye shadow. And don't even think about going near them with mascara. If you've got sensitive eyes, chances are you have a love/hate relationship with your eye makeup. Sure, that cult-classic mascara may get you bold, beautiful lashes, but if it's causing your eyes to flip out, it just isn't worth it. So we enlisted the help of New York-based optometrist Dr. Dori Wolf, who sees patients with swollen, red, itchy and flaky eyes on the daily (she estimates that around 35 percent of her patients have these symptoms), She spilled her tips on the makeup that won't send your eyes into a tizzy. But before we even get into the cosmetic side of things, her first recommendation: Pop a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement (otherwise known as fish oil). It reduces inflammation in the body and, in turn, help keep eyes moistened and comfy.
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Know your labels
Concealer is the best way to hide your "I just watched the entire Season 2 of 'Orange is the New Black' in one night" under-eye bags and trick everyone into thinking you're functioning on a full eight hours of sleep. But finding a concealer that will do this and appease your easily disgruntled eyes can be a bit of a chore.
Make sure you look at the labels for buzzwords like hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, because these are specially tested and formulated to not cause allergic reactions or clog pores, says Dr. Wolf. She notes that fragrance-free and oil-free concealers are also less likely to anger your eyes. In all your makeup, it's also good to steer far away from any products containing nickel, lanolin or rosin -- these can cause skin sensitivities and allergic reactions.
You cat eye may suffer a bit, but at least your eyes will stop complaining. Most liquid liners contain latex, which is why people with sensitive eyes should avoid them. Dr. Wolf recommends switching to a creamy, wax-based liner and only applying it to the outer rim. Any sort of waterlining clogs the oil glands along your inner rim, which disrupts your tears from moistening your eyeballs -- hello dry, red eyes.
If you absolutely can't live in a world without your liquid liner, look for one that says it's latex-free, not just for sensitive eyes (Jane Iredale Eye Believe Liquid Liner is made sans latex).
... And skip waterproof formulations as well. Why? Mascara that has lash-lengthening properties often contains microfibers that can get into your eyes and turn them into an angry, irritated mess. Meanwhile, waterproof mascara is tough to remove, says Dr. Wolf. Instead, choose a hypoallergenic formula.
Always screw the cap on tightly to prevent contamination (you should feel a bit of resistance when you try to unscrew the cap again).
And never (ever) pump your mascara to try and get the last bit out. Dr. Wolf says that this can introduce air and bacteria into the container (a major no-no for all eyes, but especially ones prone to sensitivity). She also recommends tossing your mascara tube every two months to be on the safe side.
We hate to say this, but if you've got itchy, irritable eyes, then powder eye shadow is not your friend. Dr. Wolf recommends a cream or gel-based eye shadow over powder, because the pigments in powder eye shadows are more likely to cause pain, irritation and (yuck) infection. Plus, no matter how carefully you apply a powder shadow, some is bound to get into your eye. If you absolutely, 100 percent can not live without your pretty powdered shadow (we get it, it works way better than cream shadow on oily lids), make sure to apply an eye primer beforehand to help it stay put.
Dr. Wolf also says to beware of anything that's shimmery, glittery or metallic, as these can be super irritating. So what's a girl who just wants to rock a fab smoky eye to do? Your best bet is to stick to cream and gel-based shadows. If you're a contact lens wearer, make sure your contacts are in before you start applying your eye makeup. Not only will this help with sensitivity, it'll also help your makeup application go smoother because you'll be able to, you know, see what you're doing.