Protect Your Eyes: Focus on Eye Makeup

Young woman applying mascara while looking in mirrorEye makeup is something that many, if not, most women wear just about every day. All the more reason to focus on its safe application, when to dispose of old makeup and replace with new, plus learn about some of the serious cautions about eye infections and scratches, too easy to forget about while on the go.



  • Read makeup labels carefully. Look for products that are “ophthalmologist tested” and safe for contact lens wearers. You can also seek out makeup lines that are marked “clean beauty” or “non-toxic.” But know that items labeled “natural” or “organic” aren’t necessarily regulated clearly by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). While a “greener” product may be gentler on the body and “cruelty free” (not tested on animals), there’s no guarantee that you won’t be allergic.
  • Don’t use eye makeup samples in stores. (They could be contaminated by previous users.)
  • Only use eye makeup specifically made for the eye area.
  • Avoid any metallic or “glitter” makeup that could flake off into the eye, and cause damage.
  • See if you react to one new product first before buying more. If you’re allergic, avoid that brand, or those ingredients. Ask your eye doctor about recommended alternatives.
  • Never share or swap eye makeup (even with family or friends)! Bacteria spreads, and highly contagious infections like conjunctivitis or “pink eye,” which inflames the lower lid producing mucous and itching, require antibiotics, plus time away from school and work.
  • If you have pink eye, see your doctor, and throw away all current eye makeup. (It has bacteria). Don’t use any eye makeup until the infection is gone. You can buy new products once your eyes are back to normal.
  • Toss any makeup past its prime (three months old or more).
  • Always discard dried out mascara. (Don’t re-wet).
  • Never use anything sharp to separate eyelashes! You’ll risk injury.
  • Always wash your face and hands before applying any makeup.
  • If you use facial scrubs, keep eyes closed when washing and rinsing your face to avoid any entry of contents into the eye that could scratch your cornea, the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. Ideally, avoid cleansers that contain any gritty scrubbing ingredient altogether.
  • Gently wipe (don’t rub!) eyelids and eyelashes when removing makeup. The skin around the eyes is much thinner and more sensitive to irritants (including the make-up itself). Before going to sleep, disposable oil-free eye makeup remover pads work well, as does gentle baby shampoo. Rinse carefully afterwards.
  • Give your eyes a break from makeup and contacts sometimes! If your eyes are tired or irritated, skip both the contacts and the makeup for a day or two, with a switch to glasses.

By Lisa Miceli Feliciano

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