If you use cosmetics and other beauty products, it’s a good bet you want your makeup to help improve your appearance safely, without causing problems or harm. This is especially true when it comes to products used near your eyes like eye liner, mascara and eye shadow—after all, a mishap with eye makeup could jeopardize your vision in some cases! While mascara and eye shadow can help make your eyes stand out, they can easily harm your vision. Follow these makeup tips to keep your eyes healthy.
Skip eye makeup when you've got an irritated or infected eye.
Want to make your eyes a bit more dramatic? Mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner can certainly do the trick. But if putting on eye cosmetics is part of your daily ritual, you should know about some potential dangers to your eyes. In fact, being just as diligent about removing eye makeup at night is more important than applying them each morning.
Eye cosmetics are generally safe materials — as long as you use them properly. Over time, all kinds of gunk can grow in those pretty little cosmetic packages. Bacteria and fungi can multiply, and if you continue to decorate your eyes with this makeup, you're transferring those germs directly to your eyes.
Here’s how you can make sure your eyes are pretty and healthy — these cosmetic safety tips will minimize your eyes' exposure to bacteria:
- Don't hold onto old makeup — throw it away after a few months.
- Read the label to make sure the product is specifically intended for use near the eyes. Never substitute one type of cosmetic for another—for example, don't use lip liner as eye liner, or blush as eye shadow. If you have a known allergy or sensitivity, be sure to check the ingredients.
- Don't use mascara that's dried out — and never attempt to moisten it with your saliva or water. It’s best to replace mascara every two to four months, or sooner if it’s dried. A tip: Keep a permanent marker in your make-up kit, and mark the date you open a new tube of mascara, so you won’t use it past its shelf-life.
- Follow all packaging instructions closely—including those for storing, applying and discarding the product. For example, manufacturers often recommend discarding mascara after 2–4 months, according to the FDA. Don't reuse old applicators or makeup containers, use makeup that isn't in its original condition, or store cosmetics for long periods of time at temperatures above 85° F.
- Keep your cosmetics, applicators—and hands—clean. The majority of eye cosmetics are safe and uncontaminated when you purchase them. However, misusing the product can cause the growth of dangerous bacteria or fungi and lead to serious infections.
- Don't mix and match cosmetics. Use what's intended for your eyes on your eyes only — don't use the same pencil for both lips and eyes, as that can introduce bacteria.
- Avoid kohl eyeliners — they may contain dangerous levels of lead. And avoid permanent coloring and dyes for eyelashes, as they can cause irreversible eye damage if not used correctly.
- Never share your cosmetics with a friend. Her bacteria will contaminate your eye cosmetics, and vice versa.
- Use special care when applying eyelash extensions or false eyelashes. These products require adhesives to hold them in place. The skin of the eyelids can be particularly sensitive to irritation and adverse reactions. Products to permanently dye or tint eyelashes or eye brows are not currently approved by the FDA.
- Never use a sharp object to separate eyelashes. This may seem like common sense, but laziness or rushing can cause us to make poor decisions. Don’t let a moment of haste allow you to put your eyes at risk for injury.
6 Tips for Applying Eye Cosmetics Safely
It's also important to apply your eye makeup safely to help prevent injury. Getting anything that close to your eye can potentially cause damage — so when you're painstakingly drawing that perfect line, take care not to get the cosmetics in your eye.
Try these eye cosmetic safety suggestions:
- Never put your eye cosmetics on while you're driving or riding in a car. Your mascara wand can all too easily scratch your cornea — not to mention the risks of inattentive driving. You may also want to avoid applying eye makeup on buses or subways – sudden stops can also increase the risk that you'll scratch your eye.
- Skip eye cosmetics when you've got an irritated or infected eye — and if you think that a particular cosmetic is irritating your eyes, stop using it right away.
- Keep eye cosmetics outside of your eye — don't use eyeliner on the inner eyelids, where makeup can get inside your eye.
- Always wash your hands before you dig into your makeup bag and start applying eye cosmetics.
- Avoid eye cosmetics that are iridescent, glittery, or shiny, as they may contain ingredients that could scratch or irritate the eye.
- Make sure that all eye cosmetic applicators are clean before you use them — it's a good idea to wash or replace all brushes and sponges frequently.
Safety at Bedtime: How to Remove Eye Cosmetics
Makeup can cause a lot of problems for your eyes — especially if you wear contact lenses. Eyes can become dry and irritated, and cosmetics can leave deposits on your lenses, affecting your vision and the comfort of your lenses. So it's important to carefully and gently wash off your eye makeup each night before bed to make sure that your cosmetics don't work their way into your eyes, build up, and cause damage.
Follow the instructions on the packaging of each eye cosmetic to find out the best way to remove it — some may recommend just soap and water, some a cold cream, and others makeup remover. Most importantly, be gentle when you remove your eye cosmetics, as the eyes and skin surrounding them are very sensitive. And take the same care using removal products as you do with eye makeup — always wash your hands thoroughly before you remove eye makeup.
The first rule of thumb when you have any eye injury is to avoid touching, rubbing, or putting any kind of pressure on your eye. "Even if the injury seems mild, there may be internal damage to the eye," says Dr. Sava. She recommends that you visit your eye doctor as soon as you can in any case.