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There's nothing quite like a fresh coat of mascara to make your eyes look bigger, brighter, and more refreshed. But, unfortunately, applying eye makeup can have the opposite effect for some, leading to swelling, irritation, itching, burning, and tearing.
These are all signs of a sensitivity or allergy to an ingredient in the product you're using, says Michele Green, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. Preservatives, dyes, and fragrances are common culprits, she adds.
In that case, Inna Lazar, OD, an optometrist in Connecticut, advises that you make sure to check your ingredient labels closely. "Look out for chemicals that can disrupt hormones, act as formaldehyde donors, or have neurotoxic effects," she says. "Recent studies conducted by Harvard reveal that certain cosmetic preservatives like phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, and formaldehyde can harm the ocular surface of the eyes."
To help you weed through all of the options out there — and their fine print — to pinpoint the best mascara for sensitive eyes, we cross-referenced our favorite products against the SkinSAFE database to verify that all of the mascaras on this list are hypoallergenic and made without potentially irritating ingredients, plus asked medical professionals like Dr. Green and Dr. Lazar for their favorites.
Our Top Picks
Brigitt is a writer, editor and craft stylist with nearly 15 years of experience. She specializes in lifestyle topics, including home, health, parenting, beauty, style, food, entertaining, travel and weddings. She has written for Glamour, People, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, Real Simple, Martha Stewart, Apartment Therapy, The Spruce, and more.
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