How to

How to Stop Eyes From Watering When Wearing Makeup

Got watery, easily irritated eyes? Don’t worry—there are things you can try!

If you want your eyes to stop watering when you’re wearing makeup, here are the basics:

  1. Don’t wear liner in your waterline.
  2. Try to avoid putting much product in your outer corner.
  3. Press, don’t brush, shadow onto your lower lash line.
  4. Use pencil or gel liner rather than liquid liner

Let’s talk more about each of these things.

1. Don’t Wear Liner in Your Waterline.

Though it’s trendy, the last thing you want to do if you tend toward irritation is put product in that incredibly sensitive part of your eye—the waterline.

What’s the waterline, you ask? It’s the wet area of your undereye, closer to your eye than your bottom lashes.

Illustration eye highlighting the waterline

Sadly (since it looks cool), you’re in for bad time if you put liner in this area. It’s a recipe for making your eyes water even if you don’t have particularly sensitive eyes. And if you tend toward watery eyes anyway, forget it—your eyes will be leaking everywhere.

2. Try to Avoid Putting Too Much Product in Your Outer Corner

Those with sensitive eyes often have the most trouble with their eyes watering from the outer corner.

illustration of eye with outer corner highlighted

If you find your outer corner is the first place to get irritated, you might try being extra careful about the product you put there.

Don’t pack it with shadow and liner—instead, try giving your eye a lifting effect by stopping short of applying product to that exact spot. Or lightly place the shadow and then use a clean brush to buff out the edges—don’t pile it on and blend at the same time. Also, try to use shadows that aren’t very powdery to avoid getting any product in your actual eye. Stay as far away from your actual eye as you can without altering the effect of the eye look on the whole.

You’ll probably want to avoid winged liner, since that requires loading up liquid liner (a common irritant for those with sensitive eyes) in your outer corner.

3. Press, Don’t Brush, Shadow Onto Your Lower Lash Line

Dipping your brush in a powder and then immediately blending that shadow on your lower lash line kicks up product into your eye—a sure way to get those eyes watering away. What you want to do is place the shadow, either with a smudge brush or one of those underrated sponge tip applicators (don’t come for me; they’re useful), on your lash line and blend with a clean brush afterward.

This comes from experience. Nothing ruins an eye look for me like brushing on lower lash line shadow and getting powder in my eye.

4. Use Pencil or Gel Liner Rather Than Liquid Liner

This is another sad one, but if you’re really struggling with your outer corner watering, try taking a break from your liquid liner.

Pencil isn’t nearly as irritating as liquid is, and you have the added bonus of its longevity if your eyes do water. (Nothing falls apart as quickly as liquid liner when you’re irritation-tearing.) Try switching for a bit. The L.A. Girl Gel Glide eyeliner is a great pick if you want an easy, glidey pencil that goes on coal black.

Pic of the L.A. Girl glide gel eyeliner

You can also try a gel liner. (I love the L’Oreal Infallible Gel Eyeliner.) You’ll need a brush to apply it, so that might cause some irritation. But a good gel doesn’t turn on your eye faucets the same way that liquid does, either. And it’s a good alternative if you really prefer liquid over pencil but can’t stand the way liquid makes your eyes water.

Really can’t bear to break up with your liquid liners? It’s worth trying different formulas, if you have the cash. Personally, I find some liquid to be highly irritating and some to be not that bad. If you read my post on eyeliners for beginners, you know I love the Physician’s Formula Eye Booster 2-In-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner & Serum. It hasn’t ever irritated my eyes. But everyone is different, and you may have to try a few formulas before you find one that doesn’t cause watering.


Makeup is a unique challenge when it comes to watery eyes. How to stop those eyes from watering when wearing makeup? What can you do when the slightest irritation causes your eyes to leak?

Try following these few rules, and you’ll keep that watering to a minimum.