Here's How to Remove Waterproof Mascara Without Losing Your Lashes

curly hair model with mascara on

After spending 30 minutes (or more) on our eye makeup, the last thing we want is for it to run down our face. To ensure that our smokey eye doesn't become a smudgy one, we look to budge-proof eye makeup products, namely waterproof mascara, as it almost always ensures a mess-free makeup situation. But, alas, at the end of the night, the clingy ink has got to come off (easier said than done, right?). To learn just how to remove waterproof mascara without scrubbing, rubbing, or pulling out lashes, we reached out to a celebrity makeup artist for her expertise on the matter.

In an effort to make the job easier, we asked makeup artists for their tried-and-true tricks for removing the most stubborn eye makeup. For the makeup artist approved–way to remove waterproof mascara, keep on reading.

Meet the Expert

Suzy Gerstein is a celebrity and editorial makeup artist based in New York City. She has worked with a wide variety of talent ranging from supermodel Christy Turlington Burns to actress Christine Taylor and journalist and feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

1. Apply A Base Coat

stila huge lash extreme - how to remove waterproof mascara
Stila Huge Exteme Lash $23

Honey Artist makeup artist Suzy Gerstein's go-to trick for easy mascara removal starts with the application. Before applying waterproof mascara, Gerstein says to protect your lashes with a base coat of regular mascara. Once applied, she says to go over your base coat with waterproof mascara for longer, smudge-proof wear.

2. Use a Good Remover

Smashbox It's A Wrap! Waterproof Makeup Remover $20

The key to taking off eye makeup is a good remover. We love this Smashbox formula because there's no rough tugging required. Simply apply the solution to a cotton pad, hold for a few seconds over your lashes and voilà! You'll wipe away to an ink-free flutter. It wipes away hard-to-remove makeup, while also hydrating the delicate eye area and promoting healthier lashes. However, if you are removing your makeup as a means to change beauty looks, Gerstein's go-to is the NARS Gentle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($25), as it doesn't leave behind a residue of any kind.

3. Soak Cotton Pads

basic cotton rounds - how to remove waterproof mascara
Basic Cotton Rounds $5

A drop of makeup remover will not do the trick. Gerstein recommends soaking two cotton pads with your makeup remover of choice and gently pressing the pads onto your lashes. Hold there for at least 30 seconds, and if need be, lightly massage the area for no more than 15 seconds. Wipe off the excess remover with a clean pad and or water, and your waterproof mascara should no longer be visible.

4. Clean Up With Q-Tips

q-tips - how to remove waterproof mascara
Q-tips Purse Cotton Swabs $1

If your mascara tends to settle along your lash line, use a Q-tip to gently clean up the area. Remember to let the mascara dry before you go in with the cotton swab to prevent it from smearing and messing up your eyeshadow.

Next up: I tried Byrdie's editors' favorite mascaras—read my reviews.

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