Written By: Dan Gudgel Reviewed By: Rebecca J Taylor, MD AAO.org
Headed to a holiday party? In the season of sparkle eyeshadow and faux lashes, remember these tips for safely applying makeup and cosmetics around the eyes.
Eye Makeup Safety Tips
Follow these basic steps to protect your eyes while using makeup. If you have questions about your cosmetics routine, or if you have an eye condition that may require special care, ask your doctor.
- Only use cosmetics that are designed for use around the eyes. Avoid products that contain untested or harsh chemicals.
- Throw away eye makeup after three months and get new products. Infection-causing bacteria grow easily in creamy or liquid eye makeup.
- If you develop an eye infection, like pink eye, immediately toss all of your eye makeup and don’t use eye makeup until the infection is gone.
- Never share eye makeup, even with family or close friends.
- When sampling makeup in stores use only fresh applicators and samples that have not been contaminated by multiple users. The safest choice is to avoid store samples altogether.
- Introduce only one new eye makeup or care product at a time, especially if you tend to have allergic reactions easily. Don’t add another new product until you know you’re not reacting to the first one.
- If you notice an allergic reaction to makeup:
- Find out what the ingredients are so you can watch out for them in other products.
- Let your doctor know. Your doctor may know about products that are prone to causing reactions, and about gentler alternatives.
- Before applying makeup, be sure your face and eyelids are very clean.
- Always apply makeup outside the lash line, away from the eye, to avoid blocking the oil glands of the upper or lower eyelid. These glands secrete oil that protects the eye’s surface.
- Never apply makeup while in a moving vehicle.
- If your lashes are clumped together by mascara or another product, do not use anything sharp to separate the lashes. You can easily poke or scratch your eye this way.
- Remove all eye makeup at night before sleeping, especially mascara that can stick to the lashes. If not removed properly, eye makeup can cause irritation. In one example, a 50-year-old woman who slept with mascara on for more than 25 years developed uncomfortable black lumps underneath her eyelids, which led to follicular conjunctivitis.
- If you’ve recently had eye surgery, do not wear makeup around the eye until your ophthalmologist tells you it is safe to do so. When you start wearing makeup again, get fresh, new makeup to avoid any possible infections.
Avoid Glitter Eye Makeup
Be careful with metallic, glitter, sparkle powder or other makeup. Flakes can fall into the eye, get into the tear film and irritate your eyes. Glitter eye makeup is a common cause of corneal irritation or infection, especially for people who wear contact lenses. Larger glitter or inclusions in makeup can scratch the eye, much like getting sand or dirt in your eye.
Applying Faux Eyelashes
Eyelash extensions can be done safely, if applied by a professional. Most eyelash extensions are placed using tweezers and a specially formulated, semi-permanent glue. There are also magnetic eyelashes, which are applied with an eyeliner with tiny magnetic particles in it.
Both magnetic and glued lashes can irritate the sensitive skin around the eyes or dip into the eye and scratch the cornea if not applied well. To reduce the likelihood of these possible complications, wear false lashes for special occasions only, and make sure to have a professional do it. If you experience any discomfort, see an ophthalmologist right away.
There’s enough to consider with eyelash extensions that we produced a whole article about how to get eyelash extensions safely.
What About Latisse?
Latisse is a prescription eyelash enhancer. It’s applied to the lash line to promote the growth of longer, thicker eyelashes. There are some possible side-effects to watch out for, which is why it’s only available by prescription.
You may have seen non-prescription beauty products for eyelash growth being sold in stores, but Latisse is the only lash growth product currently FDA approved. Since these other products have not been FDA tested, both safety and ability to promote eyelash growth has not been officially proven. The best way to ensure safe use of eyelash growth products is to consult with an ophthalmologist before using.
How to Remove Makeup From Around the Eyes
- Vaseline is a very effective makeup remover. It’s lubricating, soothing to skin and helps makeup slide off without unnecessary tugging and pulling.
- Baby shampoo is an inexpensive and ophthalmologist-recommended product for washing eyelids and the area around the eyes. These ‘tear-free’ soaps are often recommended to people prone to styes, chalazia and blepharitis for washing their eyes.
- Whatever eye makeup remover you use, avoid getting it in your eyes.
- Thoroughly rinse any remover off your eyelids.
- Brush a clean cotton swab along the base of the eyelashes to remove all makeup remnants.
- Be especially careful with exfoliating scrubs and don’t use them around your eyes. Cleansers with scrubbing beads or gritty additions can scratch and irritate your eyes.
- Be gentle with your eyelashes and the delicate areas around your eyes. Eyelashes are important for keeping dust and dirt out of your eyes. They also keep your eyes from drying out by blocking air movement over your tear film.