Eye make up & your beauty routine


Woman applying makeup in mirror

For many of us, applying eye makeup is an essential part of our beauty routine. However, caution should be taken in order to avoid the spread of irritants and infection to the eyes. In this article, we’re going to highlight the main threats that makeup poses to your eyes and propose some ideas you can apply to help ensure that you minimise any risks.


Can your choice of makeup affect your eyes?

It’s hard to pinpoint what is and isn’t likely to affect your eyes as everybody can react differently to the huge range of different eye cosmetics available. The short of it is yes, your choice of makeup could affect your eyes, particularly as not all eye makeup producers apply the same level of quality control procedures.

What’s more, if you tend to suffer from allergies, you may also react to a chemical in a makeup product.

If your eyes are reacting to something and you are wearing various forms of makeup, it can be hard to decipher what exactly it is that's causing the problem. One tip is to introduce one product at a time. If there is no reaction, add another and so on.

Eye cosmetics that are iridescent, shiny or glittery may tend to flake and can contain ingredients that could irritate or scratch your eyes. Glittery makeup, in particular, is a common cause of corneal irritation or infection.


Preventing eye problems caused by makeup

Here are some things you could consider that may help to prevent eye problems:


Checking makeup as part of your beauty routine

It’s always important to look after your eye makeup. Over time, bacteria can collect on the product and may then transfer into your eyes where it could cause an infection. Transfer of bacteria in this way is known to be one of the prime causes of conjunctivitis. This can result in symptoms such as sore, red eyes, irritation and a yellow discharge that can crust over your eyelashes.

With this in mind, you should consider replacing your eye makeup regularly. One way to tell if your makeup is too old is by smelling it. If it smells unusual, make sure you dispose of it. Also, be sure not to share makeup with others as that is an easy way to transfer bacteria.

Just as you should get rid of old makeup, it’s also important to dispose of mascara that has dried out. Never attempt to moisten it with water or your saliva. Mixing and matching cosmetics is another no-no. Never, for example, use the same pencil on your lips and on your eyes - it can introduce bacteria. Also, try to replace all brushes or applicator tools, on a regular basis.


Applying and removing eye makeup

You might have noticed a recurring theme is the prevention of the spread of bacteria – so it may not surprise you to find that our first tip for safely applying makeup is to thoroughly wash your hands first.

Always apply mascara outside of the lash line. If you apply it too close to the eye it will risk blocking the oil glands of the upper or lower eyelid. These glands are essential to your eye health as they secrete oil that protects the surface of the eye.

Removing eye makeup before you go to bed is advisable as cosmetics can leave deposits around the eye which can work their way in and cause irritation. You can remove makeup gently and simply with soap and water, but always make sure you follow any instructions on the makeup packaging. When removing mascara, brush a clean, cotton swab along the base of the eyelashes to remove all makeup remnants. Always remember - wash your hands first!


Makeup and contact lenses

Getting makeup trapped in your eye is bad enough but it can be even worse when wearing contacts because makeup can stick to the lenses. Here’s some advice on what measures to take to avoid this predicament:

  • Always put your contact lenses on before applying makeup, and ensure that you wash your hands before touching your lenses to avoid transferring any oils or creams onto them.
  • Try to make sure you only use non-allergenic makeup.
  • If you are applying eyeshadow, consider your eyes. A water-based cream eyeshadow is considered a sensible option as cream eyeshadow is less likely to get into your eye than a powder alternative. However, if you decide to use powder, keep your eyes shut throughout the application and brush away any excess powder before opening them.
  • Avoid applying eyeliner on the portion of your eyelashes that meet the lid as it poses a greater risk of infection. Try to apply eyeliner only to the ends of your lashes.
  • When removing eye makeup, remove your contacts first - after thoroughly washing and drying your hands of course!

Treating eyes affected by makeup

If you happen to be suffering from some sort of eye infection or irritation, you should consider avoiding the use of makeup altogether until the discomfort has subsided. Treatment will depend on the specific cause of discomfort, but all are generally pretty straightforward solutions.

  • For discomfort caused by an irritant – for example, a particle of makeup entering the eye and rubbing against the conjunctiva – removal should be the only required course of action. Eyewash is available in pharmacies and is able to gently flush out the offending particles whilst cleansing the eyes and relieving symptoms.
  • In instances where bacteria has made its way into the eye via makeup, you may require anti-bacterial eye drops. An ointment is also available for the same purpose. Generally, though, the infection will pass of its own accord after about two weeks, even without treatment. If you are at all concerned though, visit your local pharmacist for advice.

If you believe you are suffering from a symptom as a result of makeup use, the Optrex solution finder can quickly and easily help you to find a way to get some relief from your discomfort.