Waterproof Eyeliners: Do They Really Work and Which Ones Are Safe for Your Eyes?

As a makeup lover, product junkie and eye-health, I've become a bit obsessed with waterproof liners.
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As a makeup lover, product junkie and eye-health blogger, I've become a bit obsessed with waterproof liners. I find that with highly sensitive dry eyes prone to irritation, it is so important that any makeup applied around the eye area stays put, and the waterproof variety seems my best bet. With the amount of drops I insert daily, this is a near impossibility. While shopping at JC Penny, I stopped in to the Maquillage Mecca, aka Sephora. To paraphrase the Toys 'R' Us motto, it's a place where girls can be girlie girls.

I was introduced to the brand Makeup Forever by my highly-blushed and enviably high cheek-boned salesgirl, Veronica.

"This will last," she said flippantly while tossing me a Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner. And it did. But a couple of days later, out of sheer curiosity and a touch of OCD (and not because my eyes were bothering me more than my usual dryness), I decided I had to know if Makeup Forever had the "hypoallergenic" seal of approval. I emailed the company at the French headquarters listed on its website and received a particularly snooty "NON LIRE" return receipt. I tried to find the information online to no avail, so I consulted with chemist Ron Robinson, owner of, who is always tres knowledgeable and not at all snobby when it comes to answering my questions.

"Makeup Forever's eyeliners are NOT hypoallergenic," Robinson stressed, adding, "They are ophthalmologist tested and fragrance free." I asked if you needed both seals of approval. "No," said Robinson, explaining that "ophthalmologist tested" means that based on testing with a panel of customers, the product was deemed safe for the eyes. "Ophthalmologist tested is a type of safety testing done to ensure that products are safe for use around the eye area [this often includes wearers of contact lenses]," said Robinson. "The consumer panel tests the product for a few weeks and then are clinically evaluated to make sure there is no irritation."

While I found Makeup Forever's product be the only one that stayed put (impressively!) all day long and the sole warrior paint to withstand my exorbitant drop usage, Robinson recommends the following brands:

1) Tarte Emphaseyes Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner

I picked this one up at Ulta and found that the color really did last a long time, though not as long as Makeup Forever's liner. It did not budge much or bother my eyes, so it lived up to the "hypoallergenic" hype.

Ingredients: Micronized natural Amazonian clay that lends deep color pigments, mineral pigments.

It has a botanical waterproofing agent which is a blend of natural plant waxes to form an impermeable layer that protects the liner against rain, sweat, tears and creasing.
It is formulated without mineral oil, paraben, phthalates, SLS, synthtic fragrance. It has also been tested by dermatologists.

2) Pixie Endless Silky Eye Pen

Pixie is a brand that is sold by Target, so this was easy for me to find. I wasn't too thrilled with the results though as I found my green eyeliner make its way down toward my nose within a couple of hours -- sans eye drop usage. It may be hypoallergenic, but my eyes were irritated by this brand.

Ingredients: It contains Vitamin E and natural mineral pigments. It is paraben-free, mineral oil-free and preservative-free.

3) Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Eye Pencil

I'll agree with the reviewer on the Sephora website who wrote, "I love how creamy these pencils are! They go on sooo smooth but stay PUT when it sets."

I was personally surprised by the staying power of this product due to how smooth it went on, seemingly like a moisturizer. My eyes were not irritated by this product.

It is paraffin-free, mineral oil-free and paraben-free as well as enriched with Vitamin E.

Bottom line: For me, Makeup Forever was true to its name. It stayed put almost miraculously, but the fact that it was not labeled "hypoallergenic" still nagged at me despite its "ophthalmologist tested" assertion. I tried a few other brands that claimed to be waterproof, like Mary Kay, but the moment I started to tear, they started to smear.

Robinson's recommendations about irritants to avoid:

Alcohol (SD 40 or Alcohol Denatured)

*If you have an eye condition, always consult with your physician before trying any new products.