Can Makeup Damage Your Eyes?

December 17th, 2019
eye makeup

Eye makeup is generally safe to use, as long as you take a few measures to protect your eyes. Learn the risks and what you can do to stay safe.

For many people, applying eye makeup is as much a part of their routine as brushing their teeth or getting dressed. However, putting anything close to your eyes — such as mascara, eyeliner, or false eyelashes — poses a risk of damage if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to protect your eyes while wearing makeup.

The Risk of Eye Makeup

Waterline eyeliner, eyelash extensions, colored contacts, and false eyelashes all pose some risk to your eyes. These types of makeup are applied directly into or close to your eyes, potentially introducing unwanted bacteria. 

Contact injuries, especially scratching, can also be caused by makeup. An accidental eye jab from an eyeliner pencil or a mascara wand could result in a corneal abrasion, or scratched cornea. In addition, flaky, powdery eye shadow that gets caught in the eye can lead to redness, swelling, and irritation. 

How to Protect Your Eyes

Despite these risks, many people will want to continue to wear eye makeup. This shouldn’t be a problem as long as you take some precautions to protect your eyes. Here are some best practices to follow when applying eye makeup:

  • Only wear eyeliner on the outside of your eyelid and try to stay away from your waterline. Located between the lashes and the eye, the waterline is home to over 20 glands that are responsible for administering tears. If you put eyeliner on your waterline, you run the risk of drying these glands out. Further, makeup applied on the waterline is more likely to end up in your eyes.
  • Pay attention to the expiration dates on makeup and throw out products when they expire. Due to bacteria build up, the risk of irritation and infection is much greater with old products than with new ones. 
  • Clean your makeup brushes regularly to remove bacteria that could cause infections. 
  • If you’ve had an eye infection, make sure to throw out all your eye makeup to prevent reinfection.
  • Never share makeup, especially not makeup applicators, with anyone. This includes using tester products in stores. While you reduce the risk of eye infection by using disposable applicators, there might still be fungus and bacteria in the makeup container itself if it isn’t wiped down in between uses. 
  • Never put on makeup in a moving vehicle. In this unsteady environment, you’re needlessly risking a corneal abrasion. 
  • Make sure you remove whatever makeup you’re wearing before you go to bed every night. Sleeping in eye makeup can result in irritation and clogged hair follicles around your eyelids.

If you think you may be experiencing eye irritation as a result of your makeup or for any other reason, don’t hesitate to reach out to your eye doctor. Get in touch with Swagel Wootton Eye Institute today to set up a comprehensive eye exam at our Mesa and Chandler locations.