Is Make-Up Bad For My Eyes?

The cosmetics industry in the UK is booming and showing no signs of slowing down. A recent article by The Independent stated that a woman in the UK spends on average £40,000 on hair care and £100,000 on cosmetics during her lifetime. The UK spends a staggering £300 billion per year on cosmetics.

With this amount of attention being given to our appearance, it’s helpful to know that we can avoid damaging our bodies, particularly our eyes, when we take proper care in applying and removing makeup.

Take a look at our list of helpful tips below:


Is your makeup still in date?

According to research by the College of Optometrists over half of make-up users do not check the instructions to see how long they should keep their mascara on for, with almost a fifth admitting they didn’t even know that expiry information existed.

Soot particles in mascara can get into the Meibomian gland pores along the length of the eyelid margin and create blockages. These pores produce meibum, an essential oil required for a stable tear film, and by blocking these pores a chronic inflammatory reaction can be caused in the eyelid, resulting in red eyes, dry eyes and irritated eyes.

It’s also worth mentioning that when trying new cosmetic products, it’s important to carefully test whether or not they will trigger an allergic reaction.

Eyeliner on the waterline

Recently it has become popular to apply eyeliner inside on the rim of the eyelid, which is known as the waterline. While this can produce some striking results, it should be known that it carries risk. Studies have shown that eyeliner particles migrate into the tear film over the cornea from waterline eyeliner, more so than any other makeup. This increases the risk of infection.

False eyelashes/extensions

A common, well-known issue with false eyelashes is the possibility of allergy to the adhesive, however there are other significant side-effects. Our natural lashes can sustain damage, sometimes in the roots which can cause them to fall out. False lashes are also known to be breeding grounds for germs that can cause infection.

Color contact lenses

Another cosmetic trend is the application of colour contact lenses. Technically, contact lenses should not be used for cosmetic purposes as they are medical devices. 

The shape and size of our eyes are not all the same, and when we use cosmetic lenses that are not prescribed they can lead to complications. Non-prescriptive lenses can cause infection, irritation, inflammation and sometimes cause damage to the cornea. It’s also worth noting that these cosmetics lenses have been known to cause corneal ulcers and conjunctivitis. Our advice? Only use lenses prescribed by your local medical professional.


Eyeball Tattoos/Sclera Staining

We recently wrote an article on this dangerous new body modification trend, which you can read here. Cathedral Eye Clinic strongly discourages the procedure of Sclera Staining for cosmetic purposes. Where medically required, it must only be carried out by qualified doctors.

The FDA offers the following tips for the proper use of eye cosmetics:

  • Immediately stop using eye products that cause irritation. If irritation persists, see a healthcare provider.
  • Wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics. If you don’t, the bacteria on your hands could cause an infection.
  • Make sure that any cosmetic tool you place near the eye is clean.
  • Don’t allow cosmetics to become covered with dust or infected with dirt or soil. Wipe off the container with a damp cloth if you can see dust or dirt.
  • Don’t use old containers of eye cosmetics. If you haven’t used the product for several months, it’s better to throw it out and buy a new one.
  • Don’t spit into eye cosmetics. The bacteria in your mouth may grow in the cosmetic and later use may cause an eye infection.
  • Don’t share your cosmetics. Another person’s bacteria in your cosmetic can be harmful to you.
  • Don’t store cosmetics at temperatures above 85°F (29°C). Cosmetics held for long periods in hot cars, for example, are more at risk of weakening of the preservative.
  • Avoid using eye cosmetics if you have an eye infection or the skin around the eye is red. Wait until the area is healed.
  • Take extra care in using eye cosmetics if you have any allergies.
  • When applying or removing eye cosmetics, be careful not to scratch the eyeball or some other sensitive area of the eye.

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