Makeup Safety for Beautiful Eyes
Putting on makeup is a routine part of the day for many women, and there is an amazing array of makeup products and colors in most department stores, beauty suppliers and discount chains to tempt even the most jaded and savvy shoppers.
Once a product has been shown to be safe, cosmetics are available without prescription, or over-the-counter (OTC) everywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all products available on the shelves should be used without some common sense rules that help keep your eyes safe while enhancing their beauty.
There are several different broad areas of concern when thinking about using makeup safely, which include applying and removing the makeup, possible allergic reactions to ingredients contained in the products, keeping foreign substances and foreign particles out of your eyes, inflammation of the eyes and surrounding tissue from substances that may be toxic to some people, and avoiding eye infection from contaminated containers. Contact lenses add another level of risk from makeup, because even experienced wearers can inadvertently scratch the surface of the eye while handling their lenses, leaving the eye open to opportunistic infectious agents.
Sensible Use of Makeup
Many of the following “rules” for using eye makeup seem obvious, but eyecare practitioners see patients every day who have disregarded one or more of them. Good quality eye makeup is generally safe, but misuse of these products can cause problems. Keep in mind that all makeup and cosmetics are foreign to the human skin and that the eyes are especially vulnerable because of the nature of their tissues and the moisture there.
Clean Hands, Clean Makeup
Wash your hands thoroughly before applying makeup or removing it. Use a dedicated area for the application and removal of makeup, where the surfaces can be cleaned after every use.
Remove the clutter from your makeup table or bathroom countertop; discard any makeup containers that are more than three months old, and discard anything that you are not actively using now. Old makeup in old packaging is a great place for bacterial and funguses to grow. Don’t give them the chance to make a new home in your eyes or on your skin.
If you wear contact lenses, wash your hands thoroughly and insert your lenses before applying makeup. In the evening, remove your lenses and clean them before removing your makeup.
Expiration Dates and Frequent Replacement
Makeup, like every product used in or on the human body, has expiration dates, after which the preservatives that keep micro-organisms under control are no longer effective. Discard makeup that is past its expiration date, and discard ALL eye makeup every six months, or more often if you wear contact lenses.
Never moisten eyeliner, eye shadow or mascara products with your saliva. There are millions of micro-organisms that live in the mouth that should be nowhere near our eyes. This particular rule is extremely important for contact lens wearers, because the lenses can cause minor scratches to the eye surface, making it vulnerable to infection; some of these possible infections can be vision-threatening.
Never share your makeup with others. Do not borrow other people’s makeup or lend yours to anyone else. We each have our own individual “crop” of bacteria and other micro-organisms that live on our skin and on the moist surfaces of our eyes; swapping makeup is just an opportunity for new bugs to find a new place to reproduce and cause problems.
Do not use “testers” in stores to try out eye makeup; no one can tell who has used them last or what bacteria or funguses are present in their containers? Don’t take the chance, it isn’t worth an infection.
Do not wear makeup after eye surgery, until your eyecare practitioner says it is all right to do so. When you get permission to use makeup again, start with new, fresh makeup.
Put it On, Take it Off
Apply completely fresh makeup each day, and remove it completely every evening. Do not sleep while wearing makeup.
Most eyecare practitioners advise using water-based eye makeup products, which can be removed with mild soap and water. Once the eye makeup has been removed, you can use a good-quality moisturizer on your skin, but be especially carefully around the eyes.
Never apply eye makeup in a moving car. A pothole in the wrong place on the road can result in a serious eye injury and infection.
Pay Attention to Signals
If any makeup product causes your skin to become irritated, stop using it immediately.
Skip eye makeup entirely if you have conjunctivitis (also known as pinkeye), until your eyecare practitioner says it is OK to use makeup again. At that time, discard all old makeup and begin with brand new packages that have not been contaminated, because it is almost certain that makeup you used when you became infected has been inoculated with bacteria or a fungus. Using those same makeup containers, brushes and applicators
If you tend to have allergies or dermatitis, use hypo-allergenic makeup; there are several good brands available.
Use only good-quality makeup, and avoid discounted makeup. In Canada and the US, all makeup brands must prove their safety, but the internet has made imported brands available, often for very low prices. Because you can’t know what ingredients are present, it is best to avoid these sources. (An example of this is eyeliner made from kohl, which often contains lead. These products are usually found in traditional Middle-East, North African and Asian cultures.)
Avoid eye makeup with glitter or that becomes flaky after applying, because these can cause irritation from foreign bodies in the eye, and may even cause small scratches on the cornea, leaving it vulnerable to an infection.
Use eye makeup only as directed, and do not use products on the eyelids or around the eyes that are not meant to be used there; for example, do not use a lip liner as eyeliner.
Never apply eyeliner or mascara along the edge of the lid behind the lash line. There are important glands that open in that area that supplies much of the moisture on the front surfaces of the eyes. Makeup placed there can cause blockages in the gland openings and compromise the quality and quantity of the tears that are normally present.
Makeup: OK; Makeup Misuse: Not So Much
There is nothing wrong with using makeup to enhance the beauty of your skin and eyes, but it is important to use it in a responsible, reasonable way.
Makeup products in themselves are usually of good quality and are safe to use; problems like infections from contaminated or old containers, or application injuries happen only because people do not know how, or are assuming that these rules don’t apply to them; however, using makeup correctly, replacing it frequently, and just generally using good practices can and does prevent most problems associated with makeup.
If you like to wear eye makeup, enjoy it in good health!