Why Do My Eyes Water When I Wear Makeup?

Video why do my eyes water when i wear makeup

Horror strikes when you’ve just finished creating a stunning makeup look, only to have your eyes water and ruin everything. Watery eyes can turn your precise eye makeup into a messy watercolor disaster. But fear not! There are ways to control those tears and keep your makeup intact.

The Culprits Behind Watery Eyes

Before we delve into solutions, let’s identify the causes behind watery eyes. According to Dr. Andrea Thau, O.D., it could be dust, allergens, an allergic reaction to a product, a corneal infection, eye strain, or even dry eyes. If watery eyes are a constant concern, it’s essential to consult an optometrist for a thorough examination and diagnosis.

But if your eyes only water during makeup application, it’s most likely reflex tears. Dr. Thau explains that reflex tears are a natural response to an irritant. When you bring something close to your eyes, like false lashes or an eyeliner pencil, these tears kick in. So, how can you control them?

Tips to Control Reflex Tears

Dr. Thau and Smashbox global pro lead artist, Lori Taylor Davis, have shared some valuable tips to help you keep those tears in check and protect your flawless makeup.

Lubrication is Key

To alleviate discomfort, Dr. Thau suggests using preservative-free artificial tears, which add moisture to your eyes and flush out any irritants. Avoid drops targeted at redness, as they may worsen your eye’s appearance in the long run.

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Allergies and Irritation

If you suspect an allergic reaction, opt for hypoallergenic mascara, eyeshadow, and eyeliner. Brands like Almay and Clinique offer great alternatives. Fragrances and dyes, such as carmine, can be particularly irritating to sensitive eyes. It’s best to discontinue using all products, allow your eyes to heal, and reintroduce them one at a time while observing any reactions.

Hygiene Matters

Dr. Thau advises against sharing makeup products or brushes, as it can lead to eye infections. Moreover, ensure your makeup is not expired. Change your mascara every three months, and if any liquid makeup smells off, discard it.

Prepping and Application Techniques

Davis recommends prepping the under-eye area with a primer or eye cream to moisturize and prevent dryness caused by tears. For lashes, use a lash primer before applying mascara for enhanced results.

Avoid placing eyeliner on the waterline since it can clog the Meibomian glands, leading to dry eyes and more tears. Also, skip applying eyeliner to the lower lash line, as tears can ruin your eye makeup.

Stay Calm and Catch Tears

If tears start flowing mid-makeup application, tilt your chin up, take a deep breath, and look upward. Avoid excessive blinking to prevent tears from rolling down your cheeks. Davis suggests an unusual technique—squeeze your toes down into your shoes, directing your attention away from your eyes and stopping the waterworks.

Keep a tissue under your eye to catch any tears that may escape and ruin your makeup. Davis even uses a tissue barrier when applying false lashes, absorbing tears and preventing smudging.

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Setting without Streaks

Powder may be the go-to for setting makeup, but it’s counterproductive if you have watery eyes. Powder absorbs water, resulting in streaks. Instead, opt for a setting spray that allows tears to sit on top of the makeup, making it easier to blot away without leaving tracks.

Remove Makeup Properly

To prevent eye irritation and excess tear production, remove all makeup around your eyes before bed. Dr. Thau recommends using pre-moistened makeup remover wipes that can reach every crevice, such as those from Klorane, Ponds, or Neutrogena.

Waterproof Makeup Solutions

For those prone to teary-eyed moments, waterproof makeup formulas are the way to go. They are designed to withstand water and stay put. Davis particularly likes bi-phase formulas containing both oil and water. When it’s time to remove your waterproof makeup, use an oil-based or bi-phase makeup remover to dissolve it effectively. However, ensure you follow up with a clarifying cleanser or oil-free wipe to eliminate any residue and prevent potential complications.


Now that you have the tools to tackle watery eyes during your makeup routine, go ahead and slay that glamorous look without fear of tears ruining your masterpiece. Remember to consult with professionals if you experience frequent eye irritation. Enjoy your flawless makeup, and stay fabulous!

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