Mascara is an essential make-up buy, whether you like a natural look or a bolder statement eye. This classic beauty product adds volume, definition and length by gripping, separating and lifting eyelashes.
But shopping for mascara can be tricky if you struggle with sensitive eyes, whether that’s because of hay fever, hormonal changes or being particularly prone to irritation. Symptoms of easily irritated eyes include redness, itching, stinging, streaming and general soreness.
It’s safe to say all the above may be exacerbated by make-up products, which is why we’re here to help.
From fragrance-free formulas and soothing ingredients to a weightless finish and contact lens compatibility, there’s no need to compromise on lash-lengthening results simply because of eye sensitivity.
Here’s our rundown of the best mascaras for sensitive eyes across both luxury and affordable buys.
How we tested
Our tester has sensitive eyes, and the mascaras included are a list of favourites we’ve been using for several months, as well as newer finds sampled over the last few weeks. We looked at wand shapes, lengthening effects and whether they stayed put during a long day’s wear without causing our easily irritated eyes to stream or sting.
The best mascaras for sensitive eyes for 2022 are:
- Best overall – It Cosmetics hello lashes+: £22, Itcosmetics.co.uk
- Best buildable formula – Glossier lash slick: £14, Glossier.com
- Best wand flexibility – Green People volumising mascara: £18.50, Greenpeople.co.uk
- Best luxury buy – Chantecaille faux cils longest lash mascara: £64, Spacenk.com
- Best vegan-friendly buy – Pacifica vegan collagen fluffy lash mascara: £20, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for curling lashes – Fenty Beauty full frontal volume, lift and curl mascara: £23, Boots.com
- Best for lengthening lashes – Perricone MD no makeup mascara: £26, Perriconemd.co.uk
- Best for individual lash definition – Lancome hypnose custom wear volumising mascara: £22.80, Boots.com
- Best for lash volume – La Roche Posay toleriane mascara: £16.50, Feelunique.com
- Best colourful mascara – La Perla Beauty volumising mascara: £42, Beautybylaperla.com
- Best for a natural look – The Body Shop happy go lash mascara: £12, Thebodyshop.com
- Best affordable buy – L’Oreal lash paradise black mascara: £11.99, Boots.com
- Best curved brush applicator – Clinique high impact zero gravity mascara: £22, Johnlewis.com
- Best for top and bottom lashes – Inika purity lash: £29, Inikaorganic.com
- Best for pigment intensity – Mii superboost lash lover two-in-one conditioning and growth boosting serum mascara: £17, Miicosmetics.com
It Cosmetics hello lashes+
This shimmery pink tube is complete with a black textured grip coating, making it easier to hold the wand steady for smooth application. The bendy wand also features a ball tip, meaning we could grip trickier-to-reach inner eyelashes. Lash-nourishing ingredients include biotin, argan oil and jojoba oil, and the formula felt gentle to wear without causing any itchiness.
This is a tubing mascara, so lashes are wrapped in individual tubes of product. As a result, we saw significantly lengthened eyelashes that were spread upwards and outwards, creating a long-lasting babydoll look. Plus, the ophthalmologically tested mascara didn’t run or make our eyes sting when walking in windy weather.
Glossier lash slick
Best: Buildable formula
The sleek minimalist pink tube holds a slimline flexible brush that widens from its precise tip to a thicker base. Fragrance-free and ophthalmologist-tested, we found the lightweight formula to be gentle on our super sensitive eyes. This mascara gave an easily buildable look, with an eye-widening even coating across each individual lash that lasted all day without flaking. The fact that it’s water-resistant rather than waterproof means removal is easy without any harsh rubbing on irritable eyelids. Complete with conditioning biotin and black pigment highlighting polymers, it’s suitable for contact lens wearers too.
Green People volumising mascara
Best: Wand flexibility
This certified organic mascara has 98 per cent natural ingredients and is vegetarian. It’s user friendly even when you’re in a rush, and the lightweight formula doesn’t stick together or transfer. Buildable but not overly bold, we felt this pick was best for a no-make-up make-up day – it separates lashes evenly and gives quite a subtle lift. We appreciated its flexible wand head, which wasn’t likely to poke us in the eye. Components such as soothing sunflower oil are notable as the complete product does feel gentle on the eyes and surrounding skin.
Chantecaille faux cils longest lash mascara
Best: Luxury buy
This mascara’s metallic tube has a premium look to match the price point. The brush is of medium thickness, and we felt its soft fibres effectively lengthened and volumised lashes. It also fanned out bottom eyelashes well, and we didn’t experience any clumping or product residue on our eyelids – because of this, you can build it up for a bolder look minus any messiness. The formula contains no parabens and is phthalate and fragrance free. Sensitive eye-friendly ingredients include rose oil, which helps it to feel comfortingly conditioning.
Pacifica vegan collagen fluffy lash mascara
Best: Vegan-friendly buy
This vegan-friendly mascara is presented in a dreamy pink and purple ombre glass bottle with minimal branding, and the pretty packaging is recyclable. It has a satisfyingly thick brush that grips and coats lashes with ease. We noticed the wide wand still reaches inner eyelashes without much effort (or risk of poking ourselves in the peepers).
Ingredients include vegan collagen and plant fibres for hydrating lashes. This is a maximum-impact mascara for both lengthening and volumising, suiting contact lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes. The formula is comfortable to wear, and we could barely feel it was there.
Fenty Beauty full frontal volume, lift and curl mascara
Best: For curling lashes
This mascara is packaged in a trendy silver and black metallic bottle and includes a flat brush with wide edges. It works by lifting lashes and adding curl and volume. We noticed visibly lengthened eyelashes without any clumping whatsoever. Looking at our side profile, we could see the satisfying curling effect. The formula is ideal for sensitive eyes because it doesn’t include any ingredients associated with allergic contact reactions.
Our tester noted that this lightweight mascara doesn’t feel heavy on lashes. It’s water-resistant and stays put throughout long days while not being too tricky to remove either.
Perricone MD no makeup mascara
Best: For lengthening lashes
This fragrance-free mascara has a gel serum consistency, containing biotin and vitamin E for nourishing lashes. The straight brush has tiny bristles that gripped our eyelashes, lifted them from the root upwards, and offered full coverage without stinging our eyes. We found that a single coat creates a lengthening effect, and our tester also saw significant length added to the lower lashes. Plus, it dries quickly.
Although one layer was enough for busy mornings with less time on our hands, we built this look up with extra coats when seeking extra eye make-up drama.
Lancome hypnose custom wear volumising mascara
Best: For individual lash definition
Suitable for contact lens wearers and sensitive eyes, this mascara has a curved tube that is ergonomically shaped and comfy to hold. We found that the slim, wavy wand could reach inner lashes, and our tester saw that it separated and individually defined each lash.
The brush felt soft while being strong enough to add sufficient grip. We also didn’t see any product transfer onto our eyelid or lash line. Even after building up our mascara look with lots of coats, our eyes still felt comfortable during long-lasting wear, and there was no flakiness either.
La Roche Posay toleriane mascara
Best: For lash volume
An allergy-tested mascara suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, this is a mid-price mascara that delivers voluminous lash results. The fluffy brush grabs lashes and adds impressive thickness, and we saw a strongly pigmented finish. Because of this intense black coating, our tester noted the mascara creates a dramatic eye make-up look with minimum effort.
While our lashes looked thicker and had noticeable volume, they didn’t feel stiff or uncomfortable. There were no smudges on our skin either, and our eyes didn’t sting when out in the fresh air. Plus, the formula stayed in place throughout a long day’s wear.
La Perla Beauty volumising mascara
Best: Colourful mascara
As mascara buys go, this one is particularly bougie and added a luxury aesthetic to our make-up bag – matching the premium price tag. The mostly gold case has a smaller black cap revealing a curved brush, and the fragrance-free formula is available in black, brown, blue and dark violet. For a subtle splash of eye-brightening colour, we loved the violet shade. In terms of calming ingredients, organic shea butter protects skin from irritation, and our tester’s sensitive eyelashes felt soothed by the ophthalmologically tested formula.
We noticed the brush created an even covering and made our lashes look thicker without feeling weighed down or spiky.
The Body Shop happy go lash mascara
Best: For a natural look
This gently lifting mascara created a natural lash effect while feeling mild on our easily irritated eyes. We like the cute pink tube featuring a green leaf pattern, which is noticeably lightweight to carry too. The mid-size brush is straight for evenly gripping lashes, and 93 per cent of the ingredients are of natural origin, including organic beeswax and virgin coconut oil.
We saw eyelash definition without clumps and have been using the easily removable mascara on more neutral make-up days.
L’Oreal lash paradise black mascara
Best: Affordable buy
Presented in a pretty rose gold tube, this mascara has a thick brush that is soft on lashes. The wand isn’t precise for individual lashes, but we didn’t mind this because it creates instant eye-opening volume. Our eyelashes felt supple too, and not at all spiky or tough to touch. This meant they were comfortable throughout the day, and we didn’t find ourselves rubbing or itching our eyes.
For just over a tenner, this is an affordable castor oil-infused mascara that is both kind to eyes and big on lash-thickening.
Clinique high impact zero gravity mascara
Best: Curved brush applicator
This allergy-tested mascara is suitable if you wear contact lenses or have sensitive eyes, and it’s been ophthalmologist tested too. The curved brush mirrors the eye shape, meaning we could grip and lift lashes without much effort. That was a big bonus for us, as too much faffing about with mascara can make our eyes sore. We saw significantly lengthened eyelashes, and the gel mascara formula is soothing to wear. Plus, it stayed put well into the evening.
We used only warm water for removal, which minimised any potential irritation, and the formula gently wiped away.
Inika purity lash
Best: For top and bottom lashes
When applying this organic mascara, we found the brush distributed product evenly across both top and bottom lashes, so there was no clumping, just a balanced, fluttery look. We noticed an impressive lengthening and thickening of all our eyelashes, but not in an overpowering way, and the mid-size brush creates a curling effect.
Happily, our peepers weren’t irritated even when they streamed in the sunshine (as per usual for sensitive eyes), and the product didn’t run either. Ingredients include castor seed oil and vitamin E-rich sunflower seed oil, and these contributed to the soothing formula, which felt mild on our eyes.
Mii superboost lash lover two-in-one conditioning and growth boosting serum mascara
Best: For pigment intensity
We were instantly wowed by the intense black pigment added to our lashes by this vegan-friendly mascara. The tapered brush fans eyelashes out smoothly, achieving both thickness and length, without our tester needing to add many coats.
As the formula is a serum for conditioning lashes and includes ingredients like castor oil and sunflower seed oil, it felt softening too. We saw fuller-looking eyelashes without product heaviness, and our tester didn’t find it difficult to remove either.