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My eyes don’t particularly like it when I wear a lot of makeup. Killjoys! They’ve always been a bit whiney and sensitive when it comes to being caked in powder shadows, rimmed in kohl pencil and battered about with a spiky mascara wand. I remember the tears that streamed down my face on my very first modelling shoot – I wasn’t crying because I had experienced a premonition of the years to come, standing in the freezing cold wearing nothing but a pair of “concept dungarees” (don’t) and five inch Louboutins, I was crying because my eyes were rejecting every single molecule of makeup that dared go anywhere near them.
When you think about it, you can’t really blame eyes for being sensitive. They’re a) really important and necessary body parts but b) at the same time really delicate and vulnerable. Jelly orbs with easily pierced surfaces. Squishy blobs with intricate lenses. And they’re just sitting there in the fronts of our heads, like little spherical aliens riding side by side in their alien spaceship. Nothing between them and the outside world apart from eyelids which – let’s be honest – aren’t exactly the most robust form of protection. So imagine being this little alien with a jelly skin and then people coming at you with pointy pencils and mascara wands that look like instruments of torture. Wanging about big brushes that throw coloured pigment all over you and then painting jet black lines in your “waterline” – GO AWAY! – and then, introducing the biggest monstrosity of all, the thing that would strike fear into any jelly alien’s heart: the Gargantuan Iron Clamp.
I rarely curl my lashes with an eyelash curler and that’s mostly out of principal. I hated it so much when I was a jobbing model that I swore I would never do it voluntarily. And although I appreciate the eye-lifting effects of a properly curled lash, I don’t want or need those effects enough to put myself through the anguish of clamping my fragile lashes between two metal jaws. The number of times my eyelids were pinched! Good God. Horrendous. It’s the female equivalent of getting a bit of willy stuck in a trouser zip.
I digress: eyes. My eyes don’t like lots of makeup and they especially hate it being taken back off again. So I’ve tried loads and loads of makeup removers in the attempt to find ones that are gentle but that still remove stubborn makeup.
(I love the phrase “stubborn makeup”.
– Lisa Lipstick, you get in for your tea RIGHT THIS MINUTE!
– I’ll melt you down in the bleeding slow cooker you little sod!)
Here are the cleansers that will treat your eyes as they were meant to be treated – great for those with sensitive skin, for contact lens wearers or indeed anyone who wants gentle makeup removal. With all of these products, soak the cotton wool pad and hold over your eye area for at least ten seconds before trying to wipe. It reduces the amount of times you have to rub your eyes and gives the cleansers time to dissolve the makeup.
Exhibit A: La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, £11 here*
This stuff is the absolute business. The bi-phase formula (oily and watery parts that you shake together) gets off waxy mascara as well as liner and long-lasting shadows but it doesn’t irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes or the ‘balls themselves. (Can one shorten eyeballs to “balls” in a sentence where you’ve already used up your “eye” quota? Let’s see if it catches on.)
LRP also do a genius little product in their Toleriane range; the Monodose makeup remover. This one is for the very sensitive and it contains no preservatives, so each dose of liquid is packaged in a one-use, sterile capsule. Not the most eco-friendly packaging, admittedly, but it would be hard to see how you’d dispense this any differently. If you really have very intolerant skin and have to minimise possible triggers then this makeup remover is brilliant. It won’t do heavy-duty makeup or difficult mascaras but for everyday, light makeup usage it’s the dream. Find it at Escentual here* – £15 for 30 individual doses.
Exhibit B: Talika Gentle Eye Cleanser, £21 at Space NK here*
This one, like the Monodoses, won’t cut through very heavy eye makeup but it’s so gentle and soothing that it’s well worth a try for those who wear their cosmetics in non-industrial amounts. I’ve just realised that I reviewed this years ago – I’ve repurchased a few times since then and I still haven’t found anything to replace it with. I find it every so slightly more soothing than the LRP one (Exhibit A) but it’s more expensive and not nearly as powerful. Swings and roundabouts!
Exhibit C: B Stubborn Makeup Remover, £7.99 at Superdrug here*
This sexy beast of a remover is currently half price – £3.95 – which makes it even more exciting. It’s not specifically formulated for sensitive eyes and skin but I find it absolutely fine – most strong removers make little red patches flare up on my undereyes but nothing like that here. No greasy residue, no irritation, just incredibly effective makeup removal. If your eyes are less tolerant than mine then LRP may be your way forward, but this stuff is cheap as chips and really worth a try if you’re watching your pennies.
Right, I feel as though I’ve exhausted this topic for the moment. Aliens, clamps, torture instruments and lipstick murders… If you’re after a great eye cream for sensitive skin then I can highly recommend the Echium one from Pai, here.