Can Makeup Be Bad for Our Eyes?

Modern makeup doesn’t contain lead, mercury, and arsenic like it used to in bygone eras.

Still, how safe is it around our eyes? We’ve all heard that beauty is pain, but we in the eye care business have to put our foot down when it comes to unnecessary eye infection and injury risks. We’re not saying no to eye makeup overall, but we would urge a certain amount of caution.

Keep Some Distance Between Makeup and Eye

Substances that come as close to the eyeball as makeup alway carry a certain level of risk, even when they’re totally free of harmful compounds. That’s why we’re more wary of false eyelashes, eyelash extensions, eyeliner for the waterline, and color contacts than we are of eyeshadow and normal eyeliner. Bacteria can build up on these cosmetics and get into the eyes.

Mascara can have this problem too. A single use contaminates the mascara wand with germs, but that’s not the only issue. Sometimes you miss the lashes and jab your eye instead, which can scratch the cornea.

How to Look Great and Stay Safe

Again, we’re not here to tell you to immediately throw all of your eye makeup in the trash. We just want you to know the risks and have the strategies and tools to keep your eyes as safe as possible. Here are a few great tips to follow:

  • Check the expiration dates on your eye makeup, and replace it when it expires. Older makeup is more likely to cause irritation and infection. This is especially important if you’ve already had some irritation, because it could flare up again from those same germs in the makeup.
  • Use clean brushes to apply makeup.
  • Avoid the waterline. Even if it looks amazing and you’ve mastered the art of avoiding poking your eye when applying it, that’s an uncomfortable amount of foreign material to have right next to the tear film.
  • NEVER share makeup applicators. No matter how much you love your friends, you don’t want to be sharing their germs through makeup. That’s a great way to spread infections.
  • Only buy color contacts from trusted vendors who require prescriptions. Even if you don’t need contacts to correct your vision, you do need them to fit!

We love seeing our patients’ beautiful eyes!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.