Makeup may be an essential part of your every day routine. Or it could be something you do for special occasions or to make a fashion statement. Regardless of the occasion, eye makeup needs to be used with care to prevent infection or vision loss.
Here are 13 tips for using eye makeup.
1. Wash Your Hands
You are constantly using your hands and touching everything, so bacteria are always on them. This means you can transfer these bacteria onto your makeup and in your eyes. Wash your hands before applying any makeup.
2. Never Share, Never Borrow
We were all taught to share when we were children. This is not a good idea when it comes to cosmetics. When you share your makeup you are also sharing bacteria. The main danger is passing on viral conjunctivitis, or pink eye. The bacteria exist before the symptoms are apparent.
3. Eyeliner Has Its Place
Eyeliner is to be used to line the eye outside the top of the lash line and not in the eyelid margin that runs along the surface of the eyeball. There are tiny pores in the margin that produce the essential oils required for stable tear film. If the pores become clogged, it can lead to a sty, dry eyes, irritated or infected eyes.
Throw away any mascara after six months because it dries out and can flake off, getting into the eye. Depending on the ingredients in the mascara, those flakes may contain something that could scratch the cornea or become an eye irritant. Also be careful when applying mascara that the wand does not touch the eye to avoid contamination.
5. False Eyelashes
Be wary of putting too much glue on the lashes and not letting it dry a bit before placing them on the lid above your own lashes. If glue enters the eye it can cause abrasions, bacterial infections, or you could be allergic to the ingredients.
6. Storage Is Important
Don’t store makeup in warm or hot places such as your car or suitcase on a warm day. Heat destroys the preservatives that keep bacteria away. Hot temperatures are a breeding ground for bacteria. Even at home keep your cosmetics in a cool, dark place.
Just like most perishables that use preservatives, cosmetics need to be discarded after 3-4 months to prevent possible infection.
8. Keeping Clean
Wash your brushes and applicators thoroughly and regularly to keep them clean and avoid the buildup of bacteria and oils. This also includes eyelash curlers. Think about using disposable applicators that get used once and are then thrown out.
9. Know Your Ingredients
It is important to know what is in your eye makeup. Some mascara contains parabens which can cause an allergic reaction and a stinging sensation if it gets in your eye. Kohl eyeliners may contain lead. Pencils and shadows that are iridescent, glittery or shiny may contain ingredients that could scratch the cornea or irritate the eye. Never use glitter on your eyes as it can severely scratch your cornea.
10. Don’t Mix Uses Don’t use a lip pencil on your eyes or vice versa. The danger is bacteria, as the bacteria in your saliva in different from the bacteria in and around your eyes. The FDA warns to never use your saliva to moisten cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara or eye shadow.
11. Irritated Eyes
If your eyes appear irritated or infected contact your eye doctor and suspend ALL use until directed by your doctor. Before you go back to wearing eye makeup, replace all of it to void spreading the bacteria, and wash all applicators thoroughly.
12. Don’t Be Moving
Never apply makeup in a moving vehicle. Even if you aren’t driving, another vehicle can rear-end you and any applicator will go in your eye, possibly cause the loss of an eye. Do not apply makeup when driving, as your eyes should be focused on the road and not a mirror.
13. Removing Eye Makeup
It is important to carefully and gently remove your eye makeup each night before bed to make sure that your cosmetics don’t work their way into your eye, build up and cause damage. Try not to use waterproof mascara as it is harder to remove and increases your chances of getting something in your eye. Avoid foaming options as they likely contain sodium lauryl sulfate which can dry out the skin around the eye. Also watch out for any ingredients that are known to clog pores or contain fragrances. Try not to use waterproof mascara as it is harder to remove.
Susan DeRemer, CFRE
Discovery Eye Foundation