The Best Makeup for Eyelash Extensions (and the Worst)

false lashes makeup portrait


The good news about your eyelash extensions is that they look amazing. The bad news: Half your eye-makeup collection needs to go. True, eyelash extensions can last for up to six weeks, but wearing the wrong makeup with them can lead to lash fallout and extension damage, dramatically decreasing the length of time your lash extensions look full and fabulous.

Honestly, it's sad watching your eyelash extensions fall out one by one. It all happens so quickly, and within a couple of weeks, they start looking sparse. This could be due to your fast lash metabolism—or it could be from the makeup products you're using.

Extensions are sensitive. When you're glamming up your face, you must be cognizant of your falsies or else. Not sure which makeup to keep using and which to avoid? Don't worry—we've got you covered.

Scroll through for the best makeup for eyelash extensions and tips from experts to ensure your lashes thrive.

Meet the Expert

  • Ava Shamban, MD, is a board certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills. She is also co-host of The Gist and founder of Ava MD and Skin Five Clinics.
  • Clementina Richardson is a lash stylist with over 10 years of professional experience. She is also the founder of Envious Lashes whose client list includes A-listers like Mary J. Blige and Naomi Campbell, among others.

Keep Your Lashes Clean

natural smokey eye makeup look

ulas & merve / Stocksy

Oil-based makeup removers are best for removing stubborn eye makeup, but they also loosen the glue that bonds extensions to your lashes. Unfortunately, you're going to want to keep oil fully away from your eyes if you're vying for your extensions to last. Shamban confirms: "Do not use any alcohol-based products or oil-based products, which will interfere with the adhesive while you are wearing extensions." Instead, she suggests, "Use micellar water or other non-oil based super gentle cleanser daily for the eyes and lash area and clean nightly." Richardson recommends her lash boutique's own Envious Lashes Gentle Oil Free Makeup Remover ($20).

Can You Wear Mascara with Eyelash Extensions?

According to Richardson, wearing mascara on eyelash extensions "jeopardizes the life of the extensions in addition to putting strain on the natural lashes." She adds, "When wearing lash extensions, you should avoid touching them—this causes them to fall out. In addition to the weight on the natural lashes, the removal of the mascara involves pulling and rubbing that cause damage and shedding of both the natural lashes and extensions. I find those who apply mascara over their extensions always return with 25 percent or less [lashes]."

While those who follow the rules return with 60-80 percent within a two week period, Shamban agrees with "forgoing all mascara in lieu of extensions."

If your natural lashes are not dense enough to achieve your desired volume, consider trying a lash conditioning growth serum instead of mascara. A serum can be used with or without lash extensions.

For those clients who are looking for fuller lashes in between appointments, Richardson offers a couple of options available at her salon: "Clients that ask if they can apply mascara over their extensions are told that they should upgrade their sets. Another option would be to get a volume lash application, which creates three to six times the volume," she says.

No: Pencil Eyeliner

One weird consequence of having mile-long individual false lashes: They get tangled. And dragging a sticky pencil liner along the lash line—where eyelash extensions form their tenuous bonds—just worsens tangling and lash fallout. And there's the aftermath: Cream and gel eyeliners can leave a gummy residue on extensions, making removal an utter nuisance. You've been warned.

Yes: Powder Eyeliner

Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner
Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner $25

Powder liner has been a beauty crutch for many over the years, and with good reason. With many formulas delivering exponentially on color payoffs that don't fade and an easy-to-apply method that's hard to muck up, this highly pigmented option guarantees your eyes have the dramatic look without the fuss. For the newbie (or veteran), stick to a fade-free formula like this long-lasting eyeliner powder.

Use a flat angled brush to glide this powder smoothly along your lashline. Its transfer-resistant texture does not budge, meaning it also won't mess with your lashes.

No: Tubing Mascara

Fact: You can wear mascara without destroying your lashes. Just avoid tubing formulas (aka the kind that slips off in water). Tube mascara can be pulled off natural lashes with a little moisture and light pressure, but this formula sticks like glue to falsies. You'll be able to get it off, but not without losing a few (pricey, hard-earned) lashes.

Yes: Lightweight Mascara

Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara
Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara $23

It's all about weightless textures that still offer voluminous results. This is where Tarte's mascara comes in. It's a vegan, antioxidant-rich mascara made of Amazonian clay that won't damage your lashes. Trust us—this brings the drama without adding too much weight to lashes. 

No: Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

If it's not obvious by now, smudge-proof and budge-proof eye makeup is generally bad news for lash extensions. This includes water-resistant or waterproof liquid liner. A liquid eyeliner may seem innocent enough (it's not creamy or gel-like), but its long-wearing formula will require rubbing or repeatedly touching your lashes to remove it. All of which will shorten your extensions' lifespan.

Yes: Pen Eyeliner

Diorshow liner
Dior On Stage Liquid Eyeliner $31

The tapered brush of this precise eyeliner pen allows for a seamless application. Even better? You won't have to go at it around your eye area to get this stuff off (we know what that'll lead to). Save a few lashes with this formula.

No: Oil-Based Makeup Remover

Keeping your eyelash extensions clean is key to making them last as long as possible. Oil-based makeup removers are best for removing stubborn eye makeup, but they also loosen the glue that bonds extensions to your lashes.

Yes: Oil-Free Gentle Makeup Remover

oil free makeup remover wipes
Almay Oil-Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads $9

Opt for gentle makeup remover like these pads. Almay's are made with a soothing plant-based blend of aloe vera, cucumber, and green tea. They're ideal for slipping off makeup in the most sensitive of areas.

The Final Takeaway

Richardson concludes that when wearing falsies, "Products around the eyes must be oil-free and easy to remove" (oil breaks down the glue bond, after all). Shamban recommends, "items from Burt's Bees or Physicians Formula, which are top hypoallergenic drugstore brands." Stay far away from oil-based mascaras since you will have to use an oil-based remover. Oil-based products will result in losing your lash extensions within one to three days.

She adds, "For anything pertaining to the eyes, cleanliness and safety is of paramount importance. Trends may look good but never at the expense of your health or safety. First and foremost, your hands need to be fully and properly washed at all times before touching your eyes or washing your face. And as always, if you develop any negative reaction to any eye or eyelash product discontinue usage immediately and see a board certified dermatologist or ophthalmologist for immediate attention."

We've rounded up a few editor-approved products that are gentle on lashes, non-greasy and loaded with actual good-for-your-skin ingredients. See our picks below:

liquid liner
Beauty Garde Oil-Free Liner $22

Oil-free with a high-precision tip, it's easy to create that drama-like feel with swift strokes that elevate your eyelash game to a whole new level.

Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara
Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara $20

Gel in your go-to mascara? Trust us, it'll be your new fave. While this formula lengthens and enhances your eyelashes, it defines with a gloss-like finish like no other.

Neutrogena makeup remover
Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover $5

For our sensitive skin friends, soothing aloe and cucumber gently remove any trace of makeup goop, minus that greasy feel. Ranked high among our derm friends, eyelash extensions are safe with this remover.

Super Liner
L'Oréal Infallible Smokissime Powder Eyeliner Pen $17

With a color-pay off that lasts upwards of 14 hours, this eyeliner has fool-proof application disguised in a super-precise foam tip pen. That intense smoky eye without the fuss just got way easier.

Makeup removing water
NARS Makeup Removing Water $29

If you've been hoping for luxury in a makeup remover, this pick is for you. A 3-in-1 formula that cuts through makeup and hydrates while cleansing skin, you've already got the go-ahead to apply makeup immediately after use, no rinsing needed!

RMS Beauty Mascara $28

Gloss-like finish has long been the key to achieving long, voluminous lashes that last throughout the day. We're fans of this classic wand shaped pick that's packed with nourishing oils and butters to give you that unmatched light-reflective finish.

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