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Eye Health & Makeup

by Ben Boyle on 26th January 2021

Makeup accounts for a large part of the beauty industry, with millions using it daily. But have you ever thought about how this could affect your eye health, and do you take steps to ensure your eyes aren’t damaged by the cosmetics you use?

Although care should be taken when choosing all makeup to ensure there are no allergic reactions, we are going to be talking specifically about makeup used around the eyes and how it should be applied safely to avoid injury, infections or general eye health problems from long term use.


Avoiding Infection


An eye infection is never nice, however wearing makeup close to the eyes does carry risks due to the introduction of foreign substances around the eye area. Makeup can easily enter the eye during application, or throughout the day, which may cause the eye to react and become infected. So here are a few basic tips and precautions you should take when applying and wearing your eye makeup.

Always follow the manufacturers recommendations for how long your makeup is worn, and also how long you keep an opened makeup product. Wearing makeup throughout the day for longer than recommended can cause a build up of bacteria which can easily be introduced to the eye. The same process can occur for opened cosmetic products, bacteria and some fungi can begin to grow in the opened container if they are used over a longer than recommended period. For example, a typical mascara product should be replaced every three months. To keep track of when products should be replaced it is a great idea to write the date you opened them on the container.


Cleaning Eye Makeup


Cleaning your makeup brushes and applicators is also a great habit to get into, even if they don’t appear to need cleaning they can have microscopic bacteria within them. Dermatologists recommend that you should clean each makeup brush at least every 7 – 10 days, and makeup applicators used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month. If you do develop an eye infection you should always discard & replace your eye makeup to prevent any possible reinfection occurring.

You should always take care not to share makeup where possible, one of the highest risk areas can be the use of in store tester products. Lots of different people have used the same product, which can lead to the introduction of bacteria to the product. Conjunctivitis can easily be transmitted this way. The route cause of many conjunctivitis infections is due to the application of makeup or applicators which have been infected. Using disposable makeup applicators can help reduce the risk of transmission, but the bacteria may still be present on the makeup and container itself if it hasn’t been cleaned properly.

Eye makeups do contain preservatives to reduce the risk of bacteria and fungi building up, however if they are stored incorrectly the preservatives can break down and become less effective. The optimum temperature for preserving makeup is 8-12 degrees, but this isn’t always possible without refrigeration. You should at least keep your makeup away from sunlight and sources of heat for the best preservation.


Applying With Care


When applying makeup, especially around the eyes you should take extra care. You should always try and take every precaution to ensure you are as steady as possible to avoid any makeup entering the eye. Mechanical injury to the eye can cause abrasions, which over time can cause a reduction in vision and long-lasting damage.

Never apply your makeup when you are moving or in a moving vehicle, as sudden movements could cause you to slip and result in an eye injury. To help further reduce the chance of eye injury, or an eye infection, it is a good idea to only wear eye makeup such as mascara on the outside of your eye lashes, not the inside. This not only reduces the chance of injuring your eye during application, but it also keeps the makeup (and any possible bacteria) further away from the eye, reducing the risk of infection.

Eye Close Up

Be Allergy Aware


Although it is quite rare, makeup and cosmetic products can cause allergic reactions. This goes for all makeup items, including those for eyes. An allergic reaction can present itself in many forms, from minor irritation to a full-blown allergic reaction. To best avoid or reduce the chances of an allergic reaction you should always use a new makeup item one at a time, while only applying a small amount to one area to see how your skin and eyes react. Using a new item on its own will allow you to identify which products may be causing a reaction. You should take extra precaution if you are prone to allergic reactions, and do not rely on labels stating the product is hyper-allergenic as these do not guarantee the product is totally free of allergens. It is usually the ingredients found in fragrances and preservatives which cause allergic reactions, as well as iron oxide and nickel which may make up part of the cosmetic itself.





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