November 8, 2023

Eye makeup enhances the look of your eyes and makes them appear more significant, expressive, and youthful.  However, according to a  board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Gayle Howard, affiliated with Sharp Community Medical group, if the eye makeup is used incorrectly, it can harm eye health and put eyes at risk of infections and eye diseases.

Dr. Gayle Howard says, “Eye makeup can harbor bacteria and should be cleaned often and replaced regularly. “Furthermore, applying makeup inside the lash line–the lid edge–can lead to clogging of the glands located along this edge.
Let’s look at some risk factors that cause eye problems associated with eye makeup and essential tips to avoid eye problems.

Risk Factors of Eye Makeup

Whether it’s eyeliner, mascara, or eyeshadow, wearing outdated eyemakeup comes with certain risks. Here are some of the potential hazards associated with using expired makeup products.

  1. Irritation
    Once makeup exceeds its expiration date, several issues may arise. Firstly, the ingredients can start to go wrong. If you continue using makeup with spoiled ingredients, they can come into contact with your eyes, leading to redness and irritation.
    Over time, makeup products and tools may accumulate bacteria and fungi from contact with your eyelashes, eyelids, or fingers. If you persist in using these contaminated cosmetics, you may experience skin irritation or breakouts.
  2. Infections
    Using expired eye makeup increases the likelihood of developing various infections, some of which can be severe. In fact, as per the Food and Drug Administration, individuals have experienced temporary or permanent blindness due to eye makeup-related infections.
    Sharing makeup with others also elevates the risk of developing an eye infection, such as conjunctivitis (commonly known as pink eye). So, if you borrow someone else’s mascara, and they are unaware they have an infection, there is a potential for transmission. Watch out for signs of an eye infection, encompassing discomfort, redness, discharge, swelling, and inflammation. If any of these symptoms manifest, it’s essential to seek guidance from a medical professional.
  3. Scratches
    When applying makeup, there’s always the chance of inadvertently bumping or scratching your eye, particularly when you’re in a hurry or doing your makeup in a moving vehicle like a bus or a car. While it may not seem significant, this could have severe consequences if the makeup has expired and harbors bacterial growth.
    Using a mascara wand, eyeliner pencil, or even your finger, scratching your eye during makeup application can result in a corneal abrasion and, in some cases, an infection, warns the UIC College of Medicine. These painful injuries can impair your vision and necessitate immediate medical intervention.

5 Tips to Protect Your Eyes

Eyes are an essential aspect of our lives, so keeping them healthy and safe should be the priority for overall good health. Here are a few best practices when using makeup to protect your eyes.

  1. Avoid Applying Eyeliner to Your Eyelid Margins
    The eyelid margins, situated near the base of your eyelashes, house vital oil glands known as meibomian glands. These glands supply the oily portion of the tear film, which lubricates your eyes.
    Eye Makeup can block these oil glands, leading to an unstable tear film that evaporates too fast. This can cause eye problems like dry eye and irritation.
    When you apply eye makeup to the “waterline,” the area behind the lash line where your eyelid meets your eye, you’re more likely to obstruct the meibomian oil glands. Furthermore, applying eye makeup to the waterline can increase the likelihood of cosmetic products coming into contact with your tear film and, consequently, the surface of your eyes. This risk is notably higher with products like glitter.
    This is not only irritating, but it may also potentially expose your eyes to harmful bacteria. If you wish to use eyeliner, apply it to the side of your eyelashes farther away from your eye.
  2. Remove Makeup Before Bed
    Taking makeup off before bed gives your eyes and eyelids a much-needed break from any potentially irritating makeup particles. Make it a nightly routine to gently remove your makeup using a suitable makeup remover, and remember to take out your contact lenses before starting the process. If you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies, using a hypoallergenic makeup remover is incredibly beneficial.
  3. Dispose of Old Makeup
    Eye makeup, particularly mascara, creates a damp environment that can be an ideal breeding site for bacteria. This increases the risk of contracting conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. Therefore, it is a good idea to discard any liquid or creamy eye makeup, such as mascara and eyeliner, after three months.
  4. Don’t Share Cosmetic Products
    Using shared makeup and cosmetic tools, like makeup brushes, can promote the transmission of bacteria. This elevates the risk of infection of the eyelids and the eyes themselves. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid samples at makeup stores for this reason.
  5. Contact Lens Wearers Might be at Greater Risk
    The risk of experiencing irritation and infections in the eyes is higher when wearing contact lenses, especially if proper contact lens hygiene is not maintained. If your makeup application practices are not up to standard, these risks can be further elevated. Nevertheless, by adhering to proper contact lens hygiene and makeup application, most individuals can safely integrate contact lenses and makeup into their daily routines.

Final Thoughts

Suppose you suffer from eye pain, redness, irritation, eye discharge, or persistent foggy or blurred vision after any eye makeup gets into your eyes. In that case, it is recommended to visit a reputed eye care clinic and consult an ophthalmologist immediately.

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