How To Remove Waterproof Eyeliner Safely And Effectively

With these simple tips and methods, removing waterproof eyeliner can be a safe and gentle process.

Reviewed by Valerie AparovichValerie Aparovich, Cosmetologist
Written by Shreya MukherjeeShreya Mukherjee  • 


One of the most vulnerable and sensitive parts of our face is the area around the eyes. Frequently falling asleep without removing waterproof eyeliner can clog hair follicles and oil glands on your eyelids, which may cause inflammation and allow germs to accumulate in these blocked regions. Hence, removing the eyeliner before you hit the bed is key. Valerie Aparovich, certified cosmetologist-aesthetician, biochemist, and Science Team Lead at OnSkin, says: “Nightly removal of makeup products is a must-do for healthy skin. When it comes to eye makeup, it’s especially important as it also affects the health of our organs of vision. Eyeliners, mascaras, and eye shadows (and the rest of rinse-off decorative cosmetics) contain dyes, preservatives, and other ingredients that can cause skin and eye irritation and allergic reactions. When remaining on the skin for a prolonged time, they cause meibomian glands clogging and inflammation. In some cases, allergic conjunctivitis may develop, leading to eye redness, tearing, and discomfort (the condition requiring medical treatment).”

protip_icon Keep In Mind
  • Sensitive Eye Area: Sensitive Eye Area Too much tugging or pulling can damage the collagen around the eye area and lead to wrinkles.
  • Cotton Swab: Sensitive Eye Area Remove any remnant liner on the waterline using a cotton swabby dabbing it along the tip of the lash line.
  • Caution: Sensitive Eye Area Do not use baby wipes or regular wipes to remove waterproof makeup as it will only create a smudge, leave residue but not yield the desired result.
  • Use A Card: Sensitive Eye Area If you face trouble creating straight and defined lines, use tape or a card as a guideline.

Eye care is an essential part of any beauty routine. So the area around the eyes must be handled gently and with care – and pulling, tugging, or any other abrasive removal techniques can hurt your eyes.

So, do we have alternatives? Well, yes. Here, we have listed a few easy techniques and beauty tips that make the whole process of removing a waterproof eyeliner much less stressful. Keep scrolling to know more!

How To Remove Waterproof Eyeliner?

Methods to remove waterproof eyeliner.
Image: Shutterstock

The following are three step-by-step instructions for removing a stubborn waterproof eyeliner:

  1. Eye Make-Up Remover
  2. Micellar Water
  3. Facial Wet Wipes

1. Eye Make-Up Remover

Easy-to-use makeup removers make it quick and straightforward to get rid of makeup. A waterproof eyeliner can be removed efficiently with an oil-based cleanser.

What You Will Need

  • Cotton pad
  • Eye makeup remover (oil-based)

Steps To Follow

  1. Use a cotton pad to dab some eye makeup remover.
  2. With your eyes closed, place the pad over the eyeliner and let it sit for 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. The eyeliner formula softens and comes up fast after being left on for a time by the makeup remover.
  4. Apply light pressure on the pad at this time. Use a downward motion to remove the eyeliner.
  5. Make sure to clean off your eyeliner. If not, carry out the same procedure once more.
  6. Apply your usual cleanser to your face after you finish.

2. Micellar Water

Micellar water is a fantastic substitute for removing waterproof eyeliner. It can be applied to all skin types. It keeps oil and dirt off of your skin. It also encourages skin hydration and keeps the skin clean.

What You Will Need

  • Cotton pad
  • Micellar water (alcohol-free)

Steps To Follow

  1. Add micellar water to a cotton pad.
  2. Close your eyes and place the pad for about 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. Gently wipe the area until it is clean.
  4. Once it’s off, wash your face with the cleanser and then moisturize your skin.

3. Facial Wet Wipes

Using wet wipes to remove waterproof eyeliner
Image: Shutterstock

Compared to cleansers, makeup wipes are more convenient as they are easier to carry around and less expensive. Waterproof eyeliner can be easily removed with the use of wipes. Use a soft facial wet wipe that is free of alcohol.

What You Will Need

  • Facial wet wipes

Steps To Follow

  1. Grab a facial wet wipe. As you wipe on the eyeliner, close your eyes. Reapply the wipe after flipping it over to the clean side.
  2. Take another wipe to remove the eyeliner from the other eye.
  3. Wash your face with a regular cleanser and use a moisturizer to prevent irritability.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Micellar water may not be completely pure and may contain undesirable substances, including alcohol, fragrances, and chemicals. However keep in mind that cleaning wipes can also have the same irritants.

Now that you’ve learned how to remove a waterproof eyeliner, it’s essential to know the dos and don’ts for the same. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Dos And Don’ts Of Removing Waterproof Eyeliner

It can be challenging to safely remove a waterproof eyeliner. Check out the following methods to learn what you should and shouldn’t do in this case.


1. Consider Using An Oil-Based Makeup Remover

The best ingredient for removing waterproof eyeliner is oil. Oil breaks it down the quickest and reduces the need for repeated washes.

2. Be Soft And Gentle

Taking off your makeup undoubtedly results in rubbing, tugging, and pulling on your skin. Even if the damage doesn’t manifest right away, it can be harmful for the skin. To ensure everything is gone, clean slowly and gently.

3. Lastly, Cleanse Your Face

The final step in taking off the eyeliner is rinsing your face with a cleanser. If feasible, keep a wet towel on your face for a few minutes. Then you can exfoliate your skin twice a week. This helps open up pores that are still blocked by dirt and makeup.

4. Remember To Moisturize Your Skin

Some makeup removers tend to dry up your skin by robbing off of its natural oils. When you’re through, hydrate your eyes, and make sure the rest of your face is well moisturized.


5. Don’t Scrub Too Vigorously

Refrain from exfoliating your skin too vigorously. The area around the eyes should be avoided from being scrubbed. Vigorous eye rubbing harms the skin and causes the eyelashes to fall off.

6. Avoid Overdoing The Product

Although it may seem obvious, applying a lighter eyeliner is a refined technique to make it simple to remove. Choose vibrant hues with lots of pigment if you want your eyeliner to stand out.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Using eye makeup removers must not damage your skin or eyes. However, frequent use can result in moderate eye discomfort and redness. It is best to wash the area around your eyes after using them.

What if you don’t have a makeup remover? Can you still remove your waterproof eyeliner? Continue reading to find out.

How To Remove Eyeliner Without A Makeup Remover?

Alternate ways to remove eyeliner
Image: Shutterstock

There are alternative ways to remove waterproof makeup if you run out of makeup remover or makeup wipes, have sensitive skin, or are susceptible to eye irritation. Follow this step-by-step guide to remove your eyeliner without using a makeup remover.

  1. Pick a DIY eyeliner remover, such as petroleum jelly, coconut oil, olive oil, or baby oil. These help remove the adhesive compounds in waterproof eye makeup by liquifying and disintegrating cosmetics. Try petroleum jelly or jojoba oil to remove waterproof makeup if you have oily or combination skin. Choose a cleaning oil, such as coconut or olive oil, in case of dry skin.
  1. Apply the oil or petroleum jelly to the region around your eyes after pouring a pea-sized product. Gently massage the area in a circular manner for ten seconds or until the liquid lining slides off.
  2. Wash your face and pat it dry. After thoroughly cleansing your skin and removing your makeup, use your preferred face wash. Before concluding your skincare routine, wash your face with lukewarm water. Pat dry with a clean towel.

protip_icon Fun Fact
You can also use a colorless lip balm made of natural oils as a quick solution to remove your eyeliner while you are traveling.

These are the different methods to easily remove waterproof eyeliner without harming your skin. That said, a single spill of waterproof eyeliner on your clothes might be even more challenging to remove. But worry not – there’s an effective way that can help.

How To Remove Waterproof Eyeliner Stains On Clothing?

Method to remove waterproof eyeliner stains on clothes
Image: Shutterstock

It is important to immediately take care of any eyeliner stains you may have unintentionally gotten onto your clothing. If you want to save your dress, always address stains as soon as they appear. The stain will be harder to remove the older it gets. Remember to use this stain-removal technique before washing your clothes. 

What You Will Need

  • Pretreatment stain remover
  • Strong liquid detergent
  • Oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Absorbent paper towels

Steps To Follow

  • Apply a pretreatment laundry stain remover to the area.
  • Allow the product to permeate the stain for one minute.
  • Rub with strong liquid detergent on tough spots. Launder right away.
  • If a color stain persists, soak or wash the cloth in oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach, depending on the fabric.
  • Apply the dry cleaning solvent to the absorbent paper towels and clean the stain. Rinse, then allow to dry.

Infographic: Effective Methods To Remove Waterproof Eyeliner Safely

Wearing eyeliner longer than you should can have some serious negative effects, especially if you do not clean it before you go to sleep. The cosmetic can cause irritation and inflammation around the eyes, which may affect your vision. That said, cleaning the eyeliner does not have to be complicated. Here are some simple yet efficient ways to safely and gently remove your waterproof eyeliner.

effective methods to remove waterproof eyeliner safely (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Waterproof eyeliner is resistant to moisture, which makes removing it quickly a challenge. But you can use eye make-up remover, micellar water, or even facial wet wipes to remove it effectively. DIY techniques using basic household items can also help remove eyeliner stains on clothes. With these solutions and beauty products, removing eyeliner never has to be a challenge again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a makeup eraser remove waterproof eyeliner?

Yes. A makeup eraser can help remove waterproof eyeliner, mascara, HD makeup, and lipstick.

Is it OK to wear waterproof eyeliner every day?

Wearing it every day can cause discomfort, swelling, or even an infection. Hence, use it only occasionally.

Can you use Vaseline to remove waterproof eyeliner?

Vaseline dissolves practically any type of makeup quickly and softly because it is petroleum-based. Vaseline is safe to use around your eyes, contrary to some makeup removers. It works particularly well to remove waterproof eyeliner.

Does baby oil remove waterproof eyeliner?

Baby oil is a fantastic makeup remover, especially for the eyes. A cotton ball can be used to remove makeup without endangering the delicate area around the eyes.

Key Takeaways

  • Sleeping with waterproof eyeliner tends to clog the small hair follicles and oil glands on your eyelids.
  • Micellar water is an excellent alternative and is suitable for all skin types. It keeps dirt and oil off your skin and also promotes skin hydration and effectively cleanses the skin.
  • Avoid scrubbing the areas around your eyes. Rubbing your eyes vigorously will harm your skin and cause your eyelashes to fall out.

While a waterproof eyeliner can be a savior on emotional or bad weather days, they can also be a pain to remove. Watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial to efficiently remove waterproof eyeliners.

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