Thousands of years ago ancient Egyptians were using makeup. The Egyptians believed that beauty was a sign of holiness. Makeup was an important part of their daily lives which in many respects is similar to today. There were two forms of eye makeup that were eye paint and black kohl. The cosmetics today are manufactured in a much cleaner environment.
If you want to bring out the appearance of your eyes then eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara can do a great job. But, there are potential harms and risks to doing so. Most of the problems are related to mascara.
Potential Problems with Eye Makeup
- Store your makeup in a cool and dry environment.
- Do not leave your cosmetics in a hot car.
- Check for expiration dates on the makeup.
- Do not apply makeup in the car or while riding in a moving vehicle. Just like texting while driving, you are at a significantly increased risk of an accident. I have seen several corneal abrasions from doing either trying to put their makeup on while driving or riding in a car.
- Don’t mix and match makeup. Only use makeup around the eyes made for the eyes. Using makeup on the lips and then applying around the eyes has the potential of causing an eye infection.
- Never share cosmetics with others. You don’t know what bacteria or fungus may be in that person’s makeup. Demodex is a mite that lives on the surface of the skin, especially around the eyelashes. You don’t know if your friend uses proper hygiene and keeps the makeup in a proper manner. You would not share a toothbrush with a friend, therefore, don’t share makeup either.
- Always make sure your hands are clean before applying makeup.
- Brushes and applicators need to be clean. Wash and clean your brushes and applicators frequently and replace on a routine basis. There are bacteria on everyone’s skin all the time. Every time you apply your makeup and touch the skin, bacteria will now be on that brush or applicator. If it is moist or wet, you have now created an environment for the bacteria to grow.
- Avoid makeup that contains glitter, is iridescent, or shiny around the eyes. The glitter particles can get in the eye and cause corneal abrasions or irritate the eye.
- Do not wear eye makeup if your eyes are irritated, red, or inflamed.
Many people are allergic or have eye irritation with some brands of cosmetics. If you are having irritation, try other brands especially those that are hypoallergenic.
If you wear contact lenses, you need to take extra care in applying your makeup to not get any in your eye, store your makeup properly, and routinely replace your makeup to decrease the chance of a serious eye infection such as a corneal ulcer.
You need to be very careful about applying eyeliner to the eyelid. It is not a good idea to place the eyeliner on the edge of the eyelid so that it is touching the eye and get the makeup in your eye. I have seen many people who have makeup encapsulated in the conjunctival tissue inside the eyelids. Many of these people begin to complain of eye irritation over the years of collecting more and more makeup inside their lids. Mascara is also a major source of this collected makeup inside the lids causing irritation.
Mascara is the product that you need to be the most careful with. Since it is moist and is inside a closed container, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria. As stated before, every time you apply it to your body the applicator with is contaminated with the bacteria on your skin. You should discard the mascara every two months or so just to decrease your chance of an eye infection. If your mascara is dry, do not wet it especially with saliva. This will greatly increase the chance of bacteria growing in the makeup.
Eye Makeup Causes Increased Risk of Eye Disease
The more you touch the eye the more likely it is that you will get an infection or injury. Applying a heavy amount of makeup around the eyelashes and edge of the eyelid can plug or block the Meibomian glands in your eyelids. There are twenty-five or so Meibomian glands in your eyelids with a small opening or pore on the edge of the lid. These glands secrete the outer oily or lipid layer of your tear film. If they become plugged or block, you will develop dry eye disease. In fact, the wearing of contact lenses is one of the risk factors for developing dry eye syndrome. If the Meibomian glands stay plugged long enough they stop working and slowly die and go away. Sometimes when they become blocked, people develop styes or chalazions in their eyelids.
Another condition of the eyelids is called blepharitis. This is an infection and/or inflammation of the eyelids especially around the eyelashes. The lashes develop crusting or mattering most likely caused by a Staph infection. This can lead to dry eye disease and chronic irritation.
Cleaning the Eyelids and Removing the Makeup
Leaving the makeup on overnight will only make matters worse. You need to properly remove your makeup every night. You are allowing any bacteria or fungus to grow while the makeup stays on your eyelids. It is best to remove your makeup with a product that will kill bacteria that may be present. There are several products on the market that contain antiseptic chemicals that are not harmful to the eye that can kill the bacteria. Some of the products will also kill the Demodex that may be present. A couple of the better products are Occusoft wipes (the light blue package no the dark blue package) and Blephadex wipes. You can use these products to remove your makeup and leave the product on the skin to kill any organisms present. This will lower the chance of bacteria in your makeup and decrease the chance of an eye infection.
Certainly, most people do fine with their makeup but I do see many problems in my practice related to makeup. If you follow these simple steps and be careful, you should not have any problems with wearing makeup.