Safe Eye Makeup Tips

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Safety at the Makeup Aisle

As fall approaches, makeup use often increases. Department store and drugstore makeup aisles will be filled with a tempting array of makeup colors and products for the eyes. Knowing how to apply and remove eye makeup properly will not only make your eyes beautiful, but will protect your vision and prevent serious infections and allergic reactions.

Here are some safe eye makeup tips:

Infection: It’s very important to remember that makeup, including eye makeup, expires. Eye makeup should be thrown away three months after it is purchased but immediately if you develop an eye infection when you are using it. Liquid or creamy makeup can harbor bacteria easily. Once you open and use mascara, cream eye shadow or face base, you should replace it within three months. If you have eye surgery, do not wear makeup around the eye until your ophthalmologist tells you it is safe to do so and then only use fresh, new makeup. Never share your makeup with anyone else. That is why using makeup testers in stores is never recommended, as it is a common route for infection. If you must test makeup products, make sure that you use a fresh applicator and that any product that may have come in contact with another person is removed from the sample.

Allergy: If you tend to be easily allergic when you try a new product, introduce only one new product at a time. If there is no reaction you can add another new product. If you try a new product line of makeup and add too many products at once, it’s hard to pinpoint which one is the offending product. If you notice that you become allergic to a product, you should find out what the ingredients are and bring that to your doctor’s attention.

Applying: When applying makeup, be sure your face and eyelids are clean before you begin. Never apply makeup over the oil glands of the upper or lower eyelid as these glands secrete oil that protects the surface of the eye. To avoid covering the oil glands or inadvertently applying makeup directly on the eye, always apply makeup outside the lash line, away from the eye. To prevent poking yourself in the eye with an applicator, never apply makeup while you are in a moving vehicle. If you tend to have dry eyes, makeup that flakes and gets into the tear film can increase your eyes’ irritation. In such cases, you should discontinue use of powder eye shadow and glitter makeup. Be especially careful of glittery eye makeup getting into the eye this is a common cause of corneal irritation and can cause redness of the eye. If particles get between the contact lens and corneal surface, they can scratch the cornea and may lead to infection. Occasionally a corneal abrasion can become infected, leading to a potentially blinding corneal ulcer.

Removing: At night, remove all eye makeup, especially mascara that can stick to the lashes. Use a clean cotton swab to brush along the base of the eyelashes to get the last resistant debris of eye makeup off. If you use an eye makeup remover, make sure you don’t get any in your eye. When you are done, rinse the remover off your eyelids completely to avoid possible irritation of the eye or lids.

If you think you have an eye infection or allergic reaction to your eye makeup, you should contact your ophthalmologist.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart™ campaign (