Can Eye Makeup Cause Eye Problems?

In the past few years I’ve had the opportunity of treating many renowned professional dancers and stage performers. Most of them complain that more than half of their waking hours are spent either behind a thick layer of cosmetics making their skin difficult to breathe, or their hair spritz in tied-sprays or gels. They admit that while their hair and skin seem to weather this onslaught of cosmetics by regular spas or facials, it’s the heavy eye make-up that takes a toll in the long run. Puffy eyes, falling lashes, swollen lids, itchiness and constant redness become an everyday affair with them.

Most women reading this post wear makeup daily and probably can’t think of leaving the house without putting on a mascara or an eyeliner to enhance their look.
Eye cosmetics are generally safe as long as you use them properly. However, over time all kinds of gunk can grow in those pretty little makeup kits. Bacteria and fungi multiply at an alarming rate in expired items, and if you continue to use them, you’re transferring those germs directly into your eyes.
If putting on eye makeup is part of your daily routine, be aware of the potential dangers they can cause to your eyes. It’s important to be aware of the risk of infection, injury from the applicator, and allergic reactions from use of unapproved color additives in your vanity case.

dos and don'ts of eye makeup

Dos and Don’ts of Using Eye Cosmetics:

Follow these cosmetic safety tips to rock eye makeup while still protecting your eyes from any damage –

  • Don’t use eye cosmetics that cause irritation. If any eye cosmetic causes irritation, discard it immediately. If irritation persists, see a doctor. Persons allergic to nickel should not use an eyelash curler, as the metal frame contains nickel.
  • Avoid eye cosmetics if you’ve got an irritated or infected eye or even if the skin around the eye is inflamed. Wait until the area is healed. Discard any eye cosmetics you were using when you got the infection.
  • Always wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics. Be aware that there are bacteria on your hands that, if placed in the eye, could cause infections.
  • Avoid eye cosmetics that are iridescent, glittery or shiny as they may contain ingredients that could scratch or irritate the eye.
  • Keep eye cosmetics outside of your eye. Apply eyeliner outside the lash line to avoid direct contact of the cosmetic with the eye. Don’t use it on the inner eyelid. There will be less chance of the liner flaking off into the eye.
  • Don’t share! Don’t swap! Yes, not even with your best friend!! Another person’s germs may be hazardous to you. The risk of contamination may be even greater with “testers” at retail stores, where a number of people are using the same sample product. If you feel you must sample cosmetics at a store, make sure they are applied with single-use applicators such as clean cotton swabs.
  • Keep it clean! Don’t allow cosmetics to become covered with dust or contaminated with dirt or soil. Dangerous bacteria or fungi can grow in some cosmetic products as well as their containers. Make sure that all eye cosmetic applicators are clean before you use them – it’s a good idea to wash or replace all brushes and sponges frequently. Make sure that any instrument you place in the eye area is clean.  For example, don’t lay an eyelash wand on a countertop where it can pick up bacteria.
  • Don’t hold onto old makeup. Discard after a few months. Don’t use old containers too. Manufacturers usually recommend discarding mascara two to four months after purchase.
  • Don’t moisten cosmetic products. Discard dried-up mascara. Don’t add saliva or water to moisten it. The bacteria from your mouth may grow in the mascara and cause infection. Adding water may introduce bacteria as well and dilute the preservative that is intended to protect against microbial growth. Never use it past its shelf-life.
  • Keep eye cosmetics cool. Don’t store them at temperatures above 85 degrees F (roughly 30 degree Celsius). Cosmetics held for long periods in hot cars or steamy bathrooms for example, are more susceptible to deterioration of the preservative.
  • Hold still! Never apply/remove eye makeup while you’re driving or riding in a car. It may seem like efficient use of your time but resist the temptation even if you’re not in the driver’s seat. If you hit a bump, come to a sudden stop, or are hit by another vehicle, you risk injuring your eye (scratching your eyeball, for example) with a mascara wand or an applicator. Even a slight scratch can cause bacteria to grow resulting in a serious infection.
  • Don’t mix and match cosmetics. Use only cosmetics intended for the eyes on the eyes. For instance, don’t use a lip liner as an eyeliner. You may be exposing your eyes to contamination from your mouth, or to color additives that are not approved for use in the area of the eye.
  • Don’t dye eyelashes and eyebrows. Permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries, including blindness. There are no color additives approved by FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows.
  • Keep away from kohl — and keep kohl away from kids! Kohl, kajal or surma that has been used traditionally for enhancing the appearance of the eyes, may contain dangerous levels of heavy metals such as antimony and lead. Reports have linked it to lead poisoning in kids.
  • Use care with false eyelashes or extensions. False eyelashes and extensions, as well as their adhesives must meet the safety and labeling requirements for cosmetics. Since the eyelids are delicate, an allergic reaction, irritation or injury in the eye area can occur. Check the ingredients to make sure you are not allergic to the adhesives. 

Safety at Bedtime: How to Remove Eye Cosmetics

Being just as diligent about removing eye makeup at night is more important than applying it each morning. Makeup can cause a lot of problems for your eyes – especially if you wear contact lenses. Eyes can become dry and irritated, and cosmetics can leave deposits on your lenses, affecting your vision and the comfort of your lenses.

  • It’s important to carefully and gently wash off your eye makeup each night before bed to make sure that your cosmetics don’t work their way into your eyes, build up, and cause damage.
  • Follow the instructions on the packaging of each eye cosmetic to find out the best way to remove it – some may recommend just soap and water, some a cold cream, and others makeup remover.
  • It’s important to be gentle when you remove your eye cosmetics as the eyes and skin surrounding them are very sensitive.
  • Take the same care using removal products as you do with eye makeup – always wash your hands thoroughly before you remove eye makeup.
  • Insert contact lenses before applying makeup and take them out prior to removing makeup. Always wash your hands before touching your contact lenses.

Never use aerosol beauty products near heat or while smoking because they can ignite. Whether applying hair chemicals at home or in a hair salon, be mindful to keep them away from the eyes. There have been reports of injuries from hair relaxers and hair dye accidentally getting into eyes.

Homoeopathy — A friend

Especially since most of the teens, college goers and office going women in their twenties-thirties-forties or even fifties can’t seem to stay off some kind of eye makeup even for a day, instead of going for home remedies or strong eye medication, homeopathy is a lot gentler and more effective way to combat your day to day eye problems. Though it has a wide range of medicines to take care of your eyes in case of a lapse, it’s a good idea to keep homoeopathic preparations like Euphrasia, eyebright or Cineraria eyedrops handy by your bedside. If you get into a habit of instilling them in your eyes everyday the last thing before you go to bed, dashed with a little bit of precaution, they’ll help your eyes stay bright and healthy for many-many years.

Enjoy your health with best eye care.

Note ::  This article provides general information about eye care. If you suspect that you have a vision problem or a condition that requires special attention, do consult an eye care professional please. 

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