When you have sensitive eyes, it can be really difficult to find makeup that works for you. Many of you have probably given up on using makeup altogether because you just don’t want to end up with watery, itchy red eyes. Much of this comes down to the types of harmful ingredients used in typical makeup products. Don’t give up! There are options out there for you.
- Important Factors to Consider When Buying Eyeshadow for Sensitive Eyes
- Top 11 Best Eyeshadows for Sensitive Eyes 2023
- 1. Best Overall Eyeshadow Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow
- 2. The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette
- 3. Best Doctor-Recommended Eyeshadow: Physicians Formula Extreme Shimmer Shadow
- 4. Best Natural Eyeshadow Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Eyeshadow
- 5. The Best of Black Honey All About Shadow Palette
- 6. Pacifica Beauty 10 Well Eyeshadow
- 7. Honest Beauty Eyeshadow
- 8. Best Professional Eyeshadow: Lorac Pro Palette 4
- 9. Mineral Fusion Eyeshadow Trio Best Premium Eyeshadow:
- 10. Best Budget Eyeshadow Almay Intense i-Color
- 11. Lavera Beautiful Eyeshadow
- Guide to Buying the Best Eyeshadow for Sensitive Eyes
- Wrapping Up
Important Factors to Consider When Buying Eyeshadow for Sensitive Eyes
Ingredients to Avoid
If you have sensitive eyes, you will have to pay close attention to the ingredients that are in the eye makeup you want to use. It is important that the formulas used in the makeup you’re considering are gentle and free of irritants. There are many products out there with ingredients that can be irritating to sensitive eyes. “Hidden” fragrances and ingredients like ethylene brassylate, denatured alcohol and specially denatured (SD) alcohol increase the possibility for eyes to react. You may also need to avoid products with waterproof formulas as these often can be loaded with preservatives that help quicken the drying process which can cause irritation to sensitive eyes.
Cream vs. Powder Eyeshadow
Because it is so important to pay attention to the ingredients in products when you have sensitive eyes, it may be difficult to find cream-based eyeshadow that will work for you. However, if you do find a cream eyeshadow with a formula that does not cause irritation, don’t hesitate to make it the go-to eyeshadow in your makeup routine. Cream-based eyeshadows stay put upon application and don’t flake or fall into the corners of your eyes.
Powdered shadows will always pose more of a risk of getting into your eyes and causing negative reactions, but there are still plenty of options out there. Just be sure to find an eyeshadow primer that works for sensitive eyes or be sure to choose a powder-based eyeshadow that can be applied wet or dry. This will ensure that you set your powder in place and decrease the possibility of the shadow ending up in your eyes.
Top 11 Best Eyeshadows for Sensitive Eyes 2023
1. Best Overall Eyeshadow Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow
Revlon Illuminance is available in nine different color palettes: Twilight, Black Magic, Copper Crayon, Electric Pop, Khaki Suede, Not Just Nudes, Precious Metals, Skin Lights and Wild Orchids. It glides on easily, blends smoothly and is ophthalmologist tested.
The colors blend well and can be used together and separately for a wide variety of looks. If you have especially oily eyelids, the shadow will crease on your lid without using a primer or powder. Using setting powders and/or primers will also help the eyeshadow last longer throughout the day.
Though this shadow has been used by those with sensitive eyes with limited negative results, it is important to note that it does contain talc. So if you have specific reactions to talc, this product may not be the right choice for you.
- Available in nine different color palettes
- Glides on and blends well
- Long-lasting if set with primer or powder
- Contains talc
2. The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette
Ilia’s The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette is gentle on sensitive eyes thanks to the clean beauty formula it is created with. Each shadow also contains a mixture of jojoba oil and vitamin E extract so that the areas around your eyes stay moisturized, soft, and free of irritation.
This product is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free, in addition to coming in a completely recyclable package. Each palette features a variety of finishes in its shades, so you will be able to choose from matte, satin, or metallic finishes. You can also purchase the palette in warm nude or cool nude, which allows you to pick the colors that truly suit your style needs.
On the downside, each shadow can be a little hard to blend, and the palette is priced on the more expensive end of shadows. If you are looking for more of a budget shadow, we recommend Almay’s Intense i-Color instead.
The Ilia Necessary Eyeshadow Palette is formulated without talc, sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, oxybenzone, or coal tar, and it contains less than one percent of synthetic fragrances. It earned Sephora’s Clean beauty seal by being crafted without
ingredients that are potentially hazardous to human health and the environment.
- Shadows contain jojoba oil and vitamin E
- Matte, satin, and metallic finishes
- Sephora Clean beauty seal
- Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free
- Shadows can be hard to blend
- Palette is on the pricier side
3. Best Doctor-Recommended Eyeshadow: Physicians Formula Extreme Shimmer Shadow
Physicians Formula is known for being hypoallergenic and dermatologist-approved, making it safe for people to use who have sensitive eyes or who are contact lens wearers. There are two palette options, depending on the look you want to create. The Nude Eye palette is great for everyday wear and the Smokey Eye palette is great for creating an evening look. However, it is important to note that this shadow is more sparkly than matte in finish, so if you want to create a look that is more subtle, this eyeshadow won’t be the best choice for you.
You will also need to use a primer or setting powder to keep glitter particles from transferring into your eyes and causing irritation. The eyeshadow will stay put for up to 24 hours, and is a highly pigmented liquid powder that is creaseless and blends easily.
Physicians Formula cosmetics are recommended by allergists, dermatologists and ophthalmologists, which means that a lot of thought goes into creating a product that is safe for people with skin and eye sensitivities. All products in this brand are hypoallergenic and created without using any harsh ingredients known to cause irritations.
- Has a 24-hour wear that is creaseless
- Recommended by allergists, dermatologists and ophthalmologists
- Made specifically to cater for people with eye/skin sensitivities
- Glitter in the shadow may transfer to eyes if not set properly with primer or powder
4. Best Natural Eyeshadow Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Eyeshadow
This eyeshadow is all-natural and long-lasting. There are three color palette options: Countryside Lavender, Dusky Woods and Blooming Desert. Each palette has colors that are lightly pigmented with a subtle shimmer. The colors are easy to blend and resist creasing, smudging and fading over time.
However, because they are lightly pigmented, they do not create a very dark or dramatic look. You may also need to use a primer or setting powder to ensure that it lasts throughout the day. Burt’s Bees eyeshadow is ophthalmologist tested and is never tested on animals.
Burt’s Bees eyeshadow is safe for contact lens wearers and for people with sensitive eyes and skin because it is free of talc, parabens, phthalates, SLS, petrolatum, silicones or synthetic fragrances. It is made with safe minerals, vitamin E and natural extracts from honey and bamboo.
- Creates a subtle, lightly pigmented look
- All-natural and long-lasting
- Easy to blend and resists fading
- May need to be set with primer or powder
5. The Best of Black Honey All About Shadow Palette
The Clinique Best of Black Honey All About Shadow Palette comes in a deluxe-sized palette that provides you with a mirror and a dual-ended application tool. This makes the palette a great choice for anyone with sensitive eyes who needs a palette that they can easily take with them on the go.
There are 8 versatile shades included that work well with any skin tone. They are neutral enough to craft an elegant daytime look, but the colors can also be built upon to add depth and create a stylish night or going-out look. Each of the shadows goes on smoothly and blends easily.
Unfortunately, the ingredients on this product do contain talc, which some users may want to avoid. The colors are also a little less bright in real life as compared to their pictures online. If you would like a palette that offers brighter colors and a totally talc-free formula, we recommend taking another look at Ilia The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette.
Formulated without parabens and phthalates, this eyeshadow palette is also completely fragrance-free, allergy-tested, ophthalmologist-tested, and safe for use on sensitive eyes or with contact lenses.
- Comes in mirrored case with an application tool
- Palette contains 8 versatile shades
- Colors go on smoothly and blend easily
- Fragrance-free and allergy-tested
- Ingredients do include talc
- Colors are less bright in real life
6. Pacifica Beauty 10 Well Eyeshadow
Pacifica Beauty 10 is vegan, gluten-free and cruelty-free. It is a great eyeshadow for everyday wear that lasts all day and comes with ten different colors on its palette. Just be sure to buy your own brushes as this palette does not come with application tools. You may also need to use a primer or powder to further guarantee long-lasting wear.
The colors are highly pigmented and have a creamy, velvet-like finish. The shadows come in versatile shades that can create different looks from subtle highlights to bold pops of color. Though it is made for people with eye sensitivities, it may still cause some irritation for people with extremely sensitive eyes or with sensitivities to specific kinds of ingredients. Please be sure to read the label to make sure that this shadow is safe for you to use and that it suits your specific needs.
This eyeshadow is paraben-free and made from natural ingredients like coconut water and rich minerals. Pacifica 10 is formulated without carmine, phthalates, petroleum and silicone.
- Vegan, gluten free and cruelty-free
- Great for everyday wear
- Colors can create a variety of different looks
- Does not come with application tools
- May still cause eye irritation for those with extremely sensitive eyes
7. Honest Beauty Eyeshadow
With ten highly-pigmented colors from reds to pinks to bronze, you’ll be able to create both daytime and evening looks with ease. Each color blends easily and has different finishes that are velvety in texture. Some are matte while others are more shimmery or shiny. When applied wet, the matte colors can be used as liners and the shimmer shades create a high-shine finish.
It also has great staying power, so if you sweat or accidentally rub your eyes while wearing this product, it is not likely to come off. Applying the shadow can be messy at times, so just be prepared to do a little clean up around your eyes when you’re finished creating the look you want.
Honest Beauty is hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested and cruelty free. It is made without the use of parabens, paraffins, talc, mineral oil, silicones or petrolatum.
- Comes with ten highly-pigmented colors
- Is long-lasting, versatile in finish and great for all skin tones
- Hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested and cruelty free
- Application can be messy and may need clean up afterwards
8. Best Professional Eyeshadow: Lorac Pro Palette 4
Lorac was created by a professional makeup artist who was fed up with seeing clients suffer from skin and eye irritations caused by the ingredients in the makeup she used. Lorac Pro has sixteen shadows in wearable nudes, pinks, and purples. There are both matte and shimmery finishes, which is great for creating makeup looks for all occasions.
With so many shades, it’s a great choice for real eyeshadow lovers who struggle with irritation. Though the colors are powder-based, it feels creamy in texture when applied to the eyelids. Each color has incredible pigmentation and is easy to blend with little to no fallout.
The formula for these eyeshadows is infused with botanicals and extracts from natural ingredients like cucumber, lemon, and parsley. However, it is important to note that it is made with a type of paraben, which helps increase the shelf life but may not work for everyone.
- Created by a professional makeup artist
- Large selection of shades and finishes
- Powder-based but feels creamy in texture on application
- Infused with botanicals and extracts from natural ingredients
- Contains parabens
Mineral Fusion has nine different palettes to choose from: Density, Diversity, Espresso Gold, Fragile, Jaded, Riviera, Rose Gold, Stormy, Stunning and Sultry. The colors in each palette are richly pigmented, expertly coordinated and can be applied wet or dry. The darker shades can even be used to fill in your brows or as a light eyeliner. The colors last throughout the day without much fading or smudging.
This eyeshadow is gluten-free and never tested on animals. Mineral Fusion palettes are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and do not use harmful ingredients like parabens, talcs artificial colors, SLS or phthalates. Mineral Fusion Eyeshadow Trio eyeshadows are made with chamomile, meadowfoam and vitamin E.
- Nine different color palettes to choose from
- Can be applied wet or dry
- Long-lasting wear with minimal fading or smudging
- Each palette only has three colors
10. Best Budget Eyeshadow Almay Intense i-Color
The Intense i-Color comes in four different palettes specifically designed to enhance the color of your eyes (i.e. hazel, blue, green or brown). The pigment in this shadow is on the lighter side, which means you’ll need to apply several layers to make the colors really pop. However, it does have a crease-resistant, all-day wear after application. The brush that comes with the eyeshadow is a little odd because it’s curved. You may want to buy your own brushes if you prefer ones with a straight handle.
This product was made with sensitive eyes in mind. The formula used to make this eyeshadow is hypoallergenic and thoroughly tested by dermatologists and ophthalmologists.
- Color palettes are designed for specific eye colors
- Crease-resistant with great all-day wear
- Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested
- Pigment is light, so you may need to apply several layers for bolder looks
11. Lavera Beautiful Eyeshadow
Lavera is made with natural mineral color pigments and has a silky-soft and smooth finish that glides on easily and lasts all day. It has two palettes for you to choose from to create a day or evening look: Smoky Grey and Cappuccino Cream. If you’re trying to create a look with a bold, contrasting color in the blend, these palettes may not be the best choice for you. The colors are slightly shimmery when set. However, they are safe for contact lens wearers to use.
The formula for Lavera Beautiful Eyeshadow is made with 100% certified natural cosmetics that contain ingredients like organic argan oil, shea butter and coconut oil to help hydrate and condition the skin. The powders are gluten-free and tested by dermatologists and ophthalmologists.
- Made with natural mineral color pigments
- Safe for contact lens wearers
- Colors last all day
- No contrasting colors in either palette
Guide to Buying the Best Eyeshadow for Sensitive Eyes
Ingredients to Avoid If You Have Sensitive Eyes
If you have sensitive eyes, you have to pay close attention to the ingredients that are used in the makeup you want to use. Look out for hidden fragrances like ethylene brassylate, denatured alcohol and SD alcohol which can increase the chances that your eyes will have a negative reaction. You may also need to avoid anything labeled “waterproof,” because they are often loaded with preservatives that can cause eye irritations.
We’ve mentioned whenever any of the products on our list contains any of these harmful ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about any surprises.
Specific Ingredients to Avoid
Aluminum powder creates the pigments in many mainstream eyeshadows. This specific type of powder has been known to increase toxicity levels in our bodies that can be harmful to our internal organs. Look for names like aluminum or pigment metal on the ingredients label before buying.
Carbon black is something that is commonly found in eyeshadows, eyeliners and mascara. It has been linked with the presence of cancer and toxicity levels in the organ system. If you see names like acetylene black, carbon black, lampblack, thermal black, D & C Black No. 2 or furnace black, you will want to think twice about purchasing this product.
Thimerosal has antifungal and antiseptic properties and is another preservative commonly found in eyeshadow. However, thimerosal can also be toxic and lead to brain damage.
Talc is used as a filler for eyeshadows. This ensures that the eyeshadow will apply smoothly with a silky texture. Research has linked talc to cancer in some instances. Though there is still debate about this, you may want to avoid using products with this ingredient just to be safe.
Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
These are commonly used as preservatives and are found in hair, nail and makeup products. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives may cause allergies and irritation. They have also been linked to cancer. Pay close attention to the makeup label and look out for ingredients like DMDM hydantoin, urea and 1uaternium-15.
Eyeshadows that are green in color or metallic in nature are ones that are most likely to contain heavy metals like nickel and chrome. These have been linked with respiratory issues and brain damage. Nickel can also lead to watery or dry eyelids.
Parabens in general are known to be bad for skin. They are used as preservatives to prolong a product’s shelf life. However, it has a toxic effect in your body and can decrease oil production in your eyelid glands which leads to dry eyes. Look for ingredients like propylparaben, butylparaben and methylparaben on the product label.
Choices for cream eyeshadows are limited for those with sensitive eyes, but it is not impossible to find. Cream-based eyeshadows stay put upon application and don’t flake or fall into the corners of your eyes. If you prefer using cream shadows over powder, you may want to consider purchasing Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow.
Powdered shadows are more likely to get into your eyes and cause irritation. However, there are still ways to ensure your eyes stay safe if you use them. Use an eyeshadow primer that is compatible for sensitive eyes or choose a powder-based eyeshadow that can be applied wet or dry, so that you can set your eyeshadow in place. This will decrease the possibility of your eyeshadow particles ending up in your eyes. Products like Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Eyeshadow and Honest Beauty Eyeshadow are great options.
Get Comfortable With “Trial and Error”
Everyone has different reactions to the makeup products they choose. Unfortunately, this means that there are no products out there that will work for every single person’s specific needs. This means that you’ll need to go through some trial and error when searching eyeshadows.
Doing the patch test is a good way to figure out which products will or will not work for you. If you aren’t already loyal to a specific makeup brand, you may also want to start with drugstore recommendations to save a bit of cash while you test out what does and does not work for your eyes.
Best Makeup Brands for Sensitive Eyes
BareMinerals is well-known for being one of the first to market mineral-based makeup. They are known mostly for their skin-friendly products. However, they also have a variety of options made specifically for those with sensitive eyes. Their products contain no parabens, artificial oils or synthetic fragrances. Most of their eye products are ophthalmologist-tested.
Almay is a popular drugstore brand known for its skin and eye-friendly products. All of their makeup is tested for toxicity, sensitizing potential and irritancy. This helps them to avoid using chemical ingredients in their products that could negatively affect eye health. They offer a number of makeup products specifically made for people with sensitive eyes and for people who wear contact lenses. If you’re interested in exploring whether or not Almay products will work for your specific needs, consider buying the Almay Intense i-Color palette.
Clinique makes products that work well for people who wear contacts or for people with sensitive eyes. Their products are made without any known allergens, and they offer a wide variety of eye makeup options.
Physicians Formula is a top drugstore makeup brand that is hypoallergenic. It is also rated as the number one face and eye makeup brand that is natural and organic. All of their products are made for people with sensitive eyes and/or skin and are even recommended by eye health professionals. They are free of fragrances and parabens. If this sounds like a brand that will work for you, consider purchasing Physicians Formula Extreme Shimmer Shadow.
Tarte Cosmetics are cruelty-free and offer a variety of options for those with sensitive eyes. Their products are free of parabens, mineral oils, sulfates and other harsh chemicals. Most of their products are ophthalmologist-tested in an effort to create makeup that is free of eye irritants.
Pro Tips for Using Makeup When You Have Sensitive Eyes
- Avoid applying makeup on or near your waterline.
- Only use waterproof mascara and eyeliners that are ophthalmologist-tested.
- Invest in quality makeup brushes that you will use specifically for applying eyeshadow.
- Use ballpoint eyeliners that will create a strong look while remaining kind to your eyes.
- Clean your makeup tools regularly to keep them from accumulating bacteria that can cause eye issues and damage.
- Remove makeup thoroughly at the end of the day to make sure that makeup particles do not transfer to your eyes while you sleep. This will also ensure that there is no risk for eye puffiness or redness the next day.
- Throw out makeup that causes bad reactions, even if the reaction is only slight. It is not likely that your eyes/skin will adjust to that product over time.
- Replace your makeup regularly and pay attention to expiration dates. Mascara and eyeliner have a 3-6 month shelf life, and eyeshadows last about two years.
- Pay attention to the types of ingredients in the makeup you want to buy. It’s easy for brands to market their products as “hypoallergenic” or “all-natural” while still using ingredients that may irritate sensitive eyes.
Eye sensitivity varies from person to person, so it may take you some time to find the right makeup products for you. With a little patience and trial and error, you’ll be able to find an eyeshadow that looks good, creates the look you want and keeps your eyes free from irritation.