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Is there a waterproof eyeshadow?

Eyeshadow is an essential part of many makeup routines. It allows you to add color, dimension, and flair to your eye looks. However, finding an eyeshadow that stays put all day without creasing or fading can be a challenge, especially if you have oily lids. This leads many makeup wearers to wonder: is there such a thing as a truly waterproof eyeshadow?

What Makes Eyeshadow Waterproof?

Traditional powder eyeshadows are not inherently waterproof. The ingredients in regular eyeshadow formulas, like talc, mica, and pigments, will fade and smear when they come into contact with water or oil. However, some brands have created waterproof eyeshadow formulas that are resistant to smudging, creasing, and weather conditions like rain or humidity. So what makes these eyeshadows waterproof?

Waterproof eyeshadows achieve their staying power through ingredients like:

  • Dimethicone – This silicone ingredient creates a barrier on the eyelid to repel water.
  • Waxes – Waxes like beeswax and carnauba wax help lock pigments in place.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol evaporates quickly, allowing eyeshadows to set and become transfer-resistant.
  • Polymers – Film-forming polymers create a protective layer over the eyeshadow pigments.

The combination of these hydrophobic (water-repelling) ingredients helps create a formula that withstands moisture, sweat, and humidity. Many waterproof eyeshadows also skip loose mineral pigments in favor of more adhering options like pigment pastes.

How to Tell if an Eyeshadow is Waterproof

When shopping for waterproof eyeshadows, here are some telltale signs that a formula will withstand water and humidity:

  • Claims to be “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” or “smudge-proof” on the packaging
  • Liquid or cream formula (liquids tend to be more water-resistant than powders)
  • Contains dimethicone, waxes, alcohol, or polymers in the ingredients list
  • Doesn’t contain loose mineral pigments
  • Is labeled “long-lasting” or “extended wear”

You can also check reviews from buyers to see if an eyeshadow actually lives up to claims of being waterproof. Test the eyeshadow out yourself by swatching some on your hand and running it under water – if it smears or washes away, it’s likely not waterproof.

The Best Waterproof Eyeshadow Options

If you’re looking for an eyeshadow that can withstand heat, humidity, and even swimming, here are some top-rated waterproof options:

Brand Product Key Features
L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Eyeshadow – Cream powder formula
– Up to 24 hours of wear
– Sweat-proof and smudge-proof
Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow – Cream gel formula
– Up to 24 hours of wear
– Waterproof, sweat-proof, humidity-resistant
NYX Proof It! Waterproof Eyeshadow Primer – Makes powder shadows waterproof
– Up to 16 hours of wear
– Smudge-proof

1. L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Eyeshadow

L’Oreal’s Infallible eyeshadow range is legendary for its staying power. The formula is an innovative cream powder hybrid that applies smoothly and locks pigments in place. It promises up to 24 hours of fade and smudge-proof color that withstands heat, humidity, and water. With both shimmer and matte finishes available in a huge range of shades, these eyeshadows are perfect for colorful waterproof looks.

2. Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow

Maybelline’s Color Tattoo cream gel eyeshadows are another drugstore favorite for waterproof wear. The unique gel texture provides intense pigmentation that sets and dries quickly on the lids. The formula is specially designed to resist water, sweat, humidity, and friction so your eyeshadow stays vibrant all day long without fading or transferring. There are both shimmer and matte shades to choose from.

3. NYX Proof It! Waterproof Eyeshadow Primer

For a budget-friendly way to make any powder eyeshadow waterproof, try NYX’s Proof It primer. This long-lasting eyeshadow primer creates a protective base layer that keeps pigments locked in place for up to 16 hours of crease and smudge-proof wear. Just apply before your regular eyeshadow for water and humidity resistance. It also smoothes lids and boosts color vibrancy.

Tips for Applying Waterproof Eyeshadow

To get the most out of waterproof eyeshadow formulas, follow these pro tips for application:

  • Prep lids – Apply eyeshadow primer to clean, dry lids first to maximize wear.
  • Use specific brushes – Cream or liquid shadows apply best with dense synthetic brushes.
  • Work quickly – Waterproof shadows set fast, so blend and layer quickly before they dry down.
  • Keep oil away – Avoid applying face oils or balms too close to the eyes or waterproof shadows may slide.
  • Thin layers – Sheer layers blend and set better than thick coats of waterproof eyeshadow.

Take the time to properly layer and blend waterproof formulas for a smooth application that lasts all day.

Removing Waterproof Eyeshadow

While waterproof eyeshadow is designed to stay put come rain or shine, you’ll still need to properly remove it at the end of the day. Waterproof formulas won’t come off with just soap and water or regular makeup removers. You’ll need an oil-based makeup remover or cleansing balm specifically formulated to dissolve tenacious waterproof makeup.

Look for eye makeup removers that contain oil and emulsifiers to break down waterproof products. Gently massage the remover into dry eyeshadow and let it sit for 30-60 seconds before wiping away. You may need to repeat this process or follow with a secondary cleanser to fully remove all traces of stubborn waterproof eyeshadow.

You can also use a cleansing oil or balm designed for the face around the eyes. Make sure to close your eyes and be very gentle when removing waterproof eyeshadow to avoid tugging at the delicate eye area.

Are Waterproof Eyeshadows Safe for Sensitive Eyes?

Waterproof eyeshadow formulas often contain ingredients like alcohol, silicone, polymers, and waxes that may cause irritation for those with sensitive eyes. The long-wearing nature of waterproof eyeshadow can also feel drying or uncomfortable on sensitive lids over time.

If you have very sensitive eyes, double check the ingredients list of any waterproof eyeshadow you try. Steer clear of formulas with added fragrance. Do a patch test by swiping a small amount of product on your inner arm and leaving it for 24 hours to screen for allergic reactions.

Start by wearing waterproof eyeshadows for short periods of time, like 4-6 hours, to see how your eyes respond before attempting all-day wear. Be diligent about removing waterproof products thoroughly at the end of the day to avoid irritation. If your eyes become red, stinging, or itchy, discontinue use.

There are also some gentle, non-irritating eyeshadow options designed for sensitive eyes that still offer decent water resistance. Look for formulas labeled non-toxic, hypoallergenic, or fragrance-free.

Waterproof Eyeshadow Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips for getting the most out of your waterproof eyeshadow:

  • Use shimmers wet for intense metallic foil effects. Spritz your brush with setting spray before dipping into shimmer shadows.
  • Layer creams under powders to intensify color payoff and longevity.
  • Incorporate waterproof eyeliners and mascaras for a fully sweat and smudge-proof eye look.
  • Add darker shades at the lash line and lighter ones on the brow bone for definition that lasts all day.
  • Stick to mattes on the lid if dealing with excess oiliness.
  • Don’t apply waterproof shadows too close to the lower lash line to avoid irritation.
  • Keep eyeshadow looks minimal and mess-free for active summer days and beach vacations.


While no eyeshadow is 100% bulletproof, waterproof formulas come extremely close. Thanks to advanced ingredients like silicones, polymers, and dimethicone, waterproof eyeshadows create a film to seal pigments onto lids for incredible staying power without smudging or transferring, even through sweat, humidity, and water activities. Just be sure to remove waterproof eyeshadow properly at the end of the day to avoid irritation.

Brands like L’Oreal, Maybelline, and NYX offer excellent waterproof eyeshadow options to suit all budgets. Play with colors, shimmers, mattes, and primers to create eye looks that withstand all of life’s adventures. With the right waterproof eyeshadow, you can go from the gym to the pool to a night out without missing a beat.