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Ask Setareh

Why Is My Waterproof Mascara Runny?

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I have a dedicated page on my website where you can ask me your makeup/beauty related questions. You can ask your question here.


Dear Natalie,

Can you recommend a waterproof mascara? I’ve tried expensive ones and drugstore ones but they all “run” so much. SOS!

~ Gayle, Tucson, AZ


Dear Gayle,

Thanks so much for your question! I’ll do my best with helping you figure out why your waterproof mascara is running. After spending a bit of time researching waterproof mascaras specifically, I found out that the reason your waterproof mascara is running is likely because water is one of the first ingredients in your mascara.

Read the Ingredient List!

If water is one of the first ingredients of you mascara, you’ll probably have problems with your mascara running.

Conversely, if water isn’t one of the first ingredients, you might find that your mascara appears/applied clumpier and thicker. Your mascara that may even leave a little dust under your eye as the day progresses. This is often times a good indicator of when it’s time to toss your mascara as well!


In your case, I would suggest looking for a waterproof mascara where water is more in the middle or upper middle portion of the ingredient list. And don’t forget, it’s not just about the mascara, it’s also about the wand. One of my favorite mascara wand diagrams is in my book, which you can check out here.

Recommended Waterproof Mascaras:

Drugstore Waterproof Mascara

I’ve recommended a waterproof mascara in the budget, mid-range, and luxury category. I must make the disclaimer that I have not tried these specific products, though I have great confidence in the brands and would love your feedback.


Loreal Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara


Mid-Range Waterproof Mascara

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Waterproof Mascara

Luxury Waterproof Mascara


Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Waterproof Luxurious Mascara


Waterproof Mascara Removal

Remember, waterproof mascara (especially ones with little to no water) is extremely difficult to remove. I have been using Lancome’s makeup remover for years and pretty much exclusively for the rare occasion I wear waterproof mascara or eyeliner. I also highly recommend Sonia Roselli’s Japanese Cleansing Oil — it’s like a facial in an oil cleanser (and can be used on all skin types including oily and sensitive).

Another popular natural makeup remover is coconut oil, though it does take quite a bit more time to remove. Be careful though because food-grade (not cosmetic-grade) coconut oil can also clog pores in a pinch.

With either makeup remover, if you do not gently remove waterproof mascara (ahem, no rubbing just patting and swiping gently), your lashes are more prone to break and/or fall off.

Nighttime Lash routine

I would encourage applying an eyelash conditioner before bed to moisturize and revitalize your lashes overnight. Yes, they can be pricey but it may be worth it if you’ve noticed breakage or dryness in your eyelashes. Alternatively, you can switch back to a non-waterproof mascara formula and apply a waterproof top coat.

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P.S. If you asked me a beauty question, if I don't immediately know the answer, I must thoroughly research every question I receive, and sometimes do not have an immediate answer or I need clarity on unlisted ingredients in certain beauty products, sometimes getting a clear answer takes up to 3 weeks... have patience, it'll be worth it!

Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

kevyn aucoin