Waterproof mascara is great in theory: Once on, you can run a marathon in the rain and nary a droplet of inky black formula will stray from your lashes. But come removal time, it's Fort Knox, deflecting any cleanser that dare make its way in. For this reason, I've sworn off waterproof formulas (I even opted for regular mascara the day of my wedding) in fear of having to tug at my lashes and damage what brittle, thin flutters I have. Granted, I threw in the towel quickly and simply haven't yet found the best means of removal. But when Glossier, the beauty Messiah, recently revealed that it was launching a waterproof makeup remover (the sister to Milky Jelly, Milky Oil, $12), I, its faithful prophet, denounced my aversion.
The launch came at an opportune time, just as L'Oréal's Unlimited Waterproof Mascara landed on my desk—fate in all its cosmetic glory. The tube claims that it resists smudging and flaking for up to 24 hours, which was the perfect litmus test for a waterproof makeup remover.
After applying my usual four to five coats of mascara (what can I say? I like a lengthy, slightly spidery look) and confirming that the formula lasted all day long without so much as the tiniest smear, it was time to wash up for the evening. Keeping it in the family, I grabbed a Glossier cotton pad, shook the bottle of Milky Oil as instructed, and soaked the pad with the solution. I then pressed the pad onto my lashes—also as the bottle directed me to—and released. On the cotton sat all of my eyeshadow and liner (both of which are not waterproof) and a bit of mascara, but the majority of it remained on my lashes. I went back in with the pad longer this time with a slightly back and forth movement to encourage the product to release, yet still, plenty of mascara was holding on for dear life. I then grabbed another pad, soaked it once again, and repeated. After some time and a little elbow grease, all mascara was accounted for. On the other eye, I decided to hold down the pad even longer (about 30 seconds) before gently wiggling my lashes. To save pads, I re-soaked the pad in use and continued my hold-and-wiggle routine. Finally, my lashes were completely bare (and, to my delight, soft!).
The final verdict: Compared with my past experiences with removing waterproof mascara, Milky Oil was a much more enjoyable experience. It's oil-based (as the name suggests) which initially turned me off, but I wasn't left with greasy residue after all was said and done, and my lids and under eyes felt softer and smoother afterward—a nice plus. I also love that there's castor oil in the solution, a lash conditioner that's also been suggested to help promote hair growth. What's more, it's got other nourishing hydrators like panthenol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, and glycerin. Though despite many positive factors on the ingredient list, I noticed some redness along the side of my nose and around my eyes immediately after removing. I dove into the ingredients and questioned sodium benzoate, which, after some research, is a preservative that has been linked to irritation. My skin is very reactive (I have dermatographia and general sensitivity), so it's likely that I'm in the minority, but if your skin is also touchy, you may want to do a little patch test first on your inner forearm. All this to say, when it came down to it, I really was happy with how well the mascara dissolved (albeit with a little extra effort than my impatient self would appreciate) and would definitely give Milky Oil another shot, especially on non-waterproof mascara which, I'm assuming, would take less time, perfect for nights when I'd rather wipe my makeup off quickly than do a whole wash-and-rinse routine. And, as you'd expect, it looks really great in my vanity.