There’s always a choice to make when you walk into the mascara section of a beauty store: waterproof mascara or regular mascara. Many times a brand will release one mascara in both versions, and it’s understandable that waterproof might seem like the superior option. But after talking to a dermatologist, I’ve decided to bypass waterproof mascara altogether. Yes, it’s OK for special occasions—like if you’re going to cry at a wedding or do an underwater photo shoot. But using it every day can lead to dry, brittle eyelashes that are more prone to falling out (lash breakage is a real thing).
If you’re still devoted to the staying power of waterproof mascara, here’s what dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., wants you to know.
Waterproof mascara can dry your lashes out
Waxes and silicones are what make waterproof mascara more resilient against sweat, tears, and water. If you compare two tubes of mascara—one regular and one waterproof—you’ll notice the latter contains a few added ingredients, such as isododecane and cyclopentasiloxane, that aren’t doing your lashes any favors. “The ingredients that are used to cause the formula to be waterproof can have the effect of drying out lashes, which can lead to them falling out,” Dr. Engelman tells SELF. Think of it like long-wear lipstick. Sure, it lasts forever, but it leaves lips feeling cracked and dehydrated. The same can be said for waterproof mascara.
There’s a right and wrong way to remove waterproof mascara
“Because waterproof mascara is designed to last, removing it can cause more damage to the lash compared to regular mascara,” says Dr. Engelman. Taking off waterproof formulas is a multistep process that requires lots of rubbing. Typically, I start with a makeup-removing wipe. Then I go back over my eye area with a cotton pad and a special eye makeup removal formula. Somehow I still end up with smudged towels at the end (ugh).
With waterproof mascara it’s important to use an oil-based makeup remover first. Make sure to give the oil about 15 seconds to break down the water-resistant ingredients. Finish up with a gentle face cleanser to remove any remaining oily residue.
Even though it’s a pain to remove, please, PLEASE take off your waterproof mascara before you go to bed
“More people tend to neglect removing waterproof mascara at the end of the night because it is more difficult to remove,” says Dr. Engelman. “Sleeping with mascara can dry out lashes, causing them to fall out.” Even if your lashes don’t full-on fall out, they can end up breaking. Stiff hairs that are coated in mascara can get bent and snapped as you toss and turn at night. And just so you know: Eyelash serums aren’t really that effective. So it’s better to keep your lashes intact from the start.