Makeup and Eye Health

Healthy Eyes Are Beautiful Eyes

Beauty is timeless, but unfortunately, beauty products are not. For many women, putting on makeup can be a part of their daily routine, but when makeup is not used properly, cosmetics can cause infections, allergic reactions and even injuries. Our eye specialists also see patients coming into our optometrists with eyeliner and mascara residue stuck to contact lenses or trapped in tear films and tear ducts.


Some of the most common causes of eye infection come from dirty sponges and old cosmetics: mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow. In fact, according to a Reuters news article published in 2010, 89 per cent of British women are using cosmetics well past the use-by date.

More than two thirds of women (68 percent) said they only replace makeup and skincare when they run out, however long that might take. This could be risky. Cosmetics such as foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara include a “period after opening” indicator, denoted by an open pot with the number of months of safe use written inside. Products used after the expiry date carry a risk of irritation and infection due to contamination from air and bacteria. We wouldn’t hesitate about chucking out mouldy or bacteria-ridden food, the same standards should apply makeup and eye health.

In addition, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (72 percent) said they never wash their makeup sponges or brushes, even though they should do so at least once a week, and 81 percent of British women also regularly (at least once a week) go to sleep without removing makeup.

Not good eye health practices.

Don’t panic and don’t swear off eye makeup. Our opticians at John O’Connor Optometrist have put together these best practices so your eyes can look fabulous while staying healthy.

Tips to keep your eyes healthy and beautiful:

  1. Throw out old makeup after three months. Infection-causing bacteria grows quickly, especially on liquid eye makeup.

  2. If you do develop an eye infection, immediately get rid of all your eye makeup.

  3. For your eyes only. Never share eye makeup. You wouldn’t share a toothbrush, so why would you share mascara or eyeliner?

  4. Do not mix and match cosmetics. Even though your eyeliner might look good on your lips, you could introduce bacteria back into your eye.

  5. Throw away old eyeliner pencils. Liner tips become stiff over time and require more pressure to apply. Eyeliner pencils that are not properly sharpened and rough wood casings can scratch the cornea. Any corneal injury causes pain and requires immediate attention.

  6. Avoid flaky mascara or glitter shadows, particularly if you tend to have dry eyes. They can cause irritation and potentially tear the film of the eyes.

  7. makeup and eye healthRemove eye makeup, especially mascara, before sleeping: it can lead to clogged tear ducts, infections and irritation. Brush a clean cotton swab along your eyelashes to remove all mascara flakes.

  8. Keep eyeliner away from the inner lid margin. It should be applied along the eyelid, outside the lash line, to avoid blocking the oil glands of the upper or lower eyelid. These glands secrete oil that protects the eye’s surface.

  9. Wash brushes and sponges. Makeup brushes gather bacteria and dirt over time which you may be spreading onto your eyelashes, eyelid margins, tear film and possibly onto your cornea. Eyelash curlers can also build up bacteria.

  10. Never apply makeup while in a moving vehicle.

  11. Do not separate your mascara-clumped lashes with sharp items.

  12. 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 use only fresh, new makeup.

As long as you exercise caution, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy makeup. Remember you can always come to us with any eye health concerns you have or any other questions about makeup and eye health. Call 09 522 1283 to speak to our Newmarket optometrists. To speak to an optometrist in Henderson call 09 836 1731.