Finding your perfect eyeliner match takes trial and error. But for anyone with sensitive eyes, it can seem practically impossible to find a formula that you like best and is non-irritating. Because even the most expensive liners can leave your eyes red and puffy, experimenting with the best drugstore eyeliners for sensitive eyes is the way to go.
Whether you choose a traditional pencil, retractable liner, gel, or liquid pen, look for packaging that notes the product has been ophthalmologist- or dermatologist-tested. Words like "hypoallergenic" and "fragrance-free" are other good indicators that the liner in question will be gentle on your eyes, but you can also scan the ingredients list to check if synthetic fragrances have been added, too.
In addition to choosing a sensitivity-friendly formula, you can help reduce the risk of irritation by cleaning up your makeup routine (literally). Liquid eyeliners need to be replaced after six months because there's no way to clean them, and the bacteria that develops can cause irritation and even infections (the same goes for your mascara). This isn't as much of a concern for pencil eyeliners, because sharpening them keeps them fresh.
Taking off your makeup can be just as important as what you're putting on. Always make sure to thoroughly clean off your eye makeup with a gentle remover before you go to bed, as any remnants left behind can travel into your eyes while you sleep, leading to puffiness and redness when you wake up.
Ahead, you'll find five of the best drugstore eyeliners for sensitive eyes — and they're all under $15.
1. Best Pencil Liner For Sensitive Eyes
Burt’s Bees Nourishing Eyeliner Pencil
You can always count on Burt's Bees for more natural, skin-safe beauty products, and their Nourishing Eyeliner Pencil is no exception. Available in three shades (Warm Brown, Midnight Gray, and Soft Black), the cedar wood pencil is ophthalmologist-tested and deemed safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. Burt's Bees calls the pencil fade-and smudge-proof, but it's also formulated with conditioning ingredients like jojoba and mango seed oil so the pencil won't dry out the skin around your eyes.
2. Best Retractable Liner For Sensitive Eyes
L’Oréal Paris Pencil Perfect Self-Advancing Eyeliner
If you prefer a pencil liner that doesn't require sharpening, this L’Oréal Paris Pencil Perfect Self-Advancing Eyeliner is retractable, but still ophthalmologist-tested for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. The creamy formula "goes on smooth and doesn't irritate my eyes," according to one Amazon user. Another writes, "Easy application with no drag," adding," Smudging is very simple with just a rub of your finger if you like that look, [but] this stays where I put it and I have oily skin."
3. Best Liquid Liner For Sensitive Eyes
Maybelline EyeStudio Master Precise All Day Liquid Eyeliner Makeup
For more precise lines without irritation, Maybelline's EyeStudio Master Precise All Day Liquid Eyeliner Makeup gets over 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The waterproof formula is fragrance-free, and it's ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested for double the reassurance when it comes to sensitive eyes. The pen has a control grip so you can hold it comfortably, as well as a tapered tip with a fine point that lets you draw precise thin lines and build up for a thicker finish. Plus, it comes in traditional shades like Black and Forest Brown, as well as a bolder Cobalt Blue.
"It's really easy to apply and lasts a very long time," writes one Amazon user, adding, "I also have extremely sensitive eyes, [and] where other brands cause my eyes to become itchy and burn, this product didn't do that at all. I sometimes use it to fill my waterline, and even if it gets in my eye, it doesn't hurt."
4. Best Gel Liner For Sensitive Eyes
Neutrogena Intense Gel Eyeliner
When you want a smudged-out smoky eye, Neutrogena Intense Gel Eyeliner will be your go-to. The super-soft formula glides right on, and it can be blended during the first 30 seconds of application before it dries to a water-resistant finish. The hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested pencil is formulated with vitamin E to keep skin soft, and it's so gentle, Neutrogena says it can even be used along the waterline.
5. A Liner For Sensitive Eyes That Conditions Your Lashes
Physicians Formula Eye Booster Lash 2-In-1 Boosting Eyeliner Serum
This may look like your average liquid liner, but the Physicians Formula Eye Booster Lash 2-In-1 Boosting Eyeliner Serum works to define and condition, too. The liner features a Japanese formula that enhances your lashes while letting you line your eyes any way you like. It's hypoallergenic and fragrance-free in addition to being long-wearing, water-resistant, and smudge-proof, and the formula includes a lash-boosting complex to promote growth and keep lashes healthy.
"The brush is absolutely amazing for a winged eyeliner look, and it stays on all day," shares one Amazon reviewer. "It is smooth, non-irritating, and I can see a small difference in my lash thickness."
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