Written by Grove Collaborative

How to remove waterproof mascara without makeup remover.

Last Updated: August 31, 2021

Do you crave thick lashes that last but hate taking off waterproof mascara? Learn how to remove waterproof mascara with products you’ve already got on hand.

Because we all crave thick, voluminous lashes, there’s mascara. And because we live in trying times with no guarantee that we’ll make it through the day without crying, there’s waterproof mascara.


But removing waterproof mascara is a royal pain, and most makeup removers are loaded with shady chemicals of dubious origin. Join me, Mackenzie Sanford, as I dive into natural ways to remove waterproof mascara with products you’ve already got on hand.

But first, what is waterproof mascara?

Waterproof mascara keeps the pigments of lash enhancers intact even when they get wet, so you can sweat, cry, and swim without turning into a racoon. The extra waxes and silicones in waterproof makeup make it resilient against H20 in all its many forms.


Unfortunately, those silicones and waxes often have a drying effect on your lashes — some lashes may even fall out when you take off your makeup at the end of the day.

4 tips for applying waterproof mascara

Proper application does wonders for easy mascara removal later on. Follow these quick tips so you don’t have to scrub, rub, or pull at your lashes ever again.

1. Use a primer

Prep your lashes with a primer to create a smooth surface for applying the mascara.

A primer will prevent clumps and protect your lashes from breakage. PYT Beauty’s Holy Grail Brow Gel is vegan and loaded with moisturizing panthenol. Bonus: the brow gel doubles as an eyelash primer.

3. Pick the right waterproof mascara

Choose a waterproof mascara that gives you va-va-volume and is easy on the eyes, like this Ere Perez waterproof mascara.


It’s the stuff your long-lash dreams are made of — she volumizes, she nourishes, and she strengthens your lashes, all in one fell swoop of the spoolie.

4. Brush lashes with a dry spoolie

Less mascara = easier clean up. Take a dry spoolie — you can buy one or just wash a used one with soap and water — and use it to brush out your lashes after you’ve applied the waterproof mascara.


This technique removes excess mascara while declumping for even product distribution and amped-up volume.

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Why is makeup remover bad for skin and eyes?

Makeup removers are formulated to be safe for your skin — but ingredients still matter. Many makeup removers contain alcohol, which may irritate or dry out your skin.


Others have toxic preservatives like formaldehyde (ew) or contain artificial fragrances — both of which are potential carcinogens that can irritate your skin.


If you love your makeup remover but want to try a safer product, I gave this Superbloom Makeup Remover Towel a go to see how it fared against bold eyeshadow and — yes — waterproof mascara. (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t disappointed.)

Shop makeup remover towels and natural makeup removers

The best ways to remove waterproof mascara naturally

Here are our top recs to remove waterproof mascara without makeup remover.

Does olive oil remove waterproof mascara?

Since you can’t use water to remove your waterproof mascara, use its opposite — oil. Olive oil is an effective remover of waterproof makeup because it breaks down the waterproof properties, letting the mascara slide off your lashes with ease.


If you need more reasons to try this miraculous oil, read the definitive Grove guide on the benefits of olive oil for your skin.


To use: Apply the olive oil to your lashes, then wipe it off with a cotton pad, dry washcloth, or makeup remover towel. You might have to repeat the process a couple times to remove all traces of mascara.

Does baby shampoo remove waterproof mascara?

It sounds weird, but it’s true — baby shampoo is great for lifting off hard-to-remove waterproof mascara. Baby shampoo is hypoallergenic, gentle on your lashes, and safe to use in your eye area.


To use: Dollop a dime-sized amount onto a cotton pad or your (clean) finger, and apply it to your lashes. Wipe away the mascara with a wet washcloth or makeup remover towel.

Does coconut oil remove waterproof mascara?

Coconut oil removes waterproof mascara the same way olive oil does — just slather it on until you look like a clown, then wipe it off. (Almond oil also works similarly to coconut oil for removing mascara too!)


Hot tip: Coconut oil also makes a great strengthening conditioner for your lashes post-removal, because it prevents protein loss in your hair.


To use: After you remove your mascara, go about your usual nighttime skincare routine. As the very last thing, apply a tiny bit of coconut oil to your lashes. Keep it on overnight, and wash your face again in the morning.

Does micellar water remove waterproof mascara?

Yaaas! I could extoll the virtues of micellar water ‘til the cows come home, but suffice it to say that this stuff is the queen of makeup removers.


It looks like plain water, but it’s full of tiny little cleansing molecules called micelles that attract, lift, and trap dirt, oil, and makeup without drying out your skin or leaving behind an oily residue. Magical.


To use: Wet two cotton pads with micellar water, and place them over your closed eyes. Let ‘em soften up that waterproof mascara for a few seconds before gently wiping the pads across your eyes.


Looking for extra credit? I got you. Watch this video for dermatologist-recommended tips on how to remove waterproof mascara.

Shop more natural makeup removers from Grove

How to remove waterproof mascara from skin and clothes

Say your cat spooked you bad while you were applying mascara, and it got all over your cheek, forehead, hand — and probably in your eye, too.


Let your heart rate come down, then try any of the methods we discussed above to remove waterproof mascara from your skin — they’re all solid choices to get you cleaned up.


Clothes are a bit trickier, but still an easy fix:


To remove waterproof mascara from clothes:


  1. Grab a bottle of stain remover — I love this one — and spray it on the bespeckled item.
  2. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes, then take a soft-bristle brush, and gently scrub the mascara out.
  3. Wash your garment as per the fabric care instructions.
  4. Double check that the stain is gone before you toss your laundry in the dryer — drying it could set the blemish and make it permanent.
  5. If the mascara marks are still present, soak the item in oxygen-based bleach overnight, then wash and dry as usual.

Are you a mess? Me, too. Check out Grove’s guides on how to get lipstick, deodorant, and nail polish out of your clothes as well.

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