Makeup & Eye Health

New Era Eyecare
Feb 27 · 4 min read

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy”.

— Yves Saint Laurent

Throughout humankind, makeup has played a key role in societies spanning as far back as the ancient Egyptians using ash to line their eyes in 10000 B.C.E. Cosmetics have been around as long as we can remember, so it’s safe to say they’re not going anywhere; however, that doesn’t mean we can say all cosmetics are safe for use. Like many things, all cosmetics are not made the same. In the 1400s, Italians used arsenic in their face powders. Unfortunately, even though we have a greater understanding of chemicals and ingredients that are harmful to us, many companies still formulate products that can cause eye health concerns. We’re going to deep dive into everything you need to know about makeup and your eye health.

Eye Health Issues Makeup Can Cause

By now most of us know that makeup can have some not-so-great ingredients in it, so let’s discuss some common eye problems that can arise from using harmful, old, infected or dirty makeup.

  • Conjunctivitis (or Pink Eye) — bacteria can grow on makeup, which can in turn cause pink eye or other eye infections.
  • Scratched Cornea — you can scrape the transparent layer at the front of the eye if you are not careful or if products become harder than they are supposed to be over time.
  • Allergic Reactions — redness, irritation, itchiness, tearing up, swelling can be caused from any ingredient that does not agree with us, but older and cheaper makeup tends to have more irritants.
  • Losing Lashes — Old makeup can cause your lashes to get weak and fall out over time. Lashes are meant to catch dust and debris around our eye region. Losing lashes means your eyes have no first
    line of defense from the outside world.

Tips to Avoid Eye Issues w Makeup

  • Don’t share makeup, brushes, sponges or anything of the sort. The only time you should be sharing makeup tools is after they have been thoroughly washed and disinfected. You don’t know how clean or
    unclean another person’s face is. Perhaps their puppy licked their face all morning and now these germs are permanently in your foundation powder.
  • Eyelash lice is increasingly becoming a problem us optometrists are dealing with. Most of the time,eyelash lice is public lice that transferred to one’s eyes after touching their genitalia. The last thing you want is to share eyelash lice with your friend because they asked to borrow your mascara.
  • Glitter eyeshadow and loose glitter can be quite dangerous. Often times glitter is rough and has sharp edges. As you can imagine, glitter can lead to scratched corneas. Glitter can also cause micro tears on your eyelids, opening you up to possible infections.
  • Remove your makeup at night. Bacteria clings to makeup rather easily. The last thing you want is grime, pollution and bacteria to mix with your makeup and fester on your face all night. Wash your face. We recommend Clinique’s Take The Day Away Cleansing Balm to remove all traces of face and eye makeup without stripping your skin of too much moisture. This is also a good time to remind you to swap out your pillow case every 3 to 4 days.
  • Latisse is the only FDA approved lash growing product. All other products such as Milk Makeup’s KUSH Growhouse Lash + Brow Serum and Peter Thomas Roth’s Lashes to Die For serum are not FDA approved and can cause irritation in our around your eye or even cause permanent eye damage.
  • Liquid lipsticks can double as eyeliner, but only if the brand has designed their lipsticks to do so. For example, Jeffree Star Cosmetics’ velour liquid lipsticks are vegan, non-toxic and eye safe.
  • Just recovered from an eye infection? Toss your makeup or at the very least disinfect it with 70%+isopropyl alcohol.
  • Do not tug at your eyes when removing makeup. Not only will this prevent premature aging, but it will also keep you from accidentally opening your eye while stretching at your skin and getting cleansing agents/surfactants in your eyes. If this occurs, rinse your eye thoroughly for at least 3 minutes. If you still feel a burning sensation in your eyes after rinsing, contact your optometrist immediately.

When to Throw Out Makeup

We’ve put together an easy-to-digest chart for when you should be throwing away old makeup or replacing it.

  • Mascara — 4 to 6 months
  • Brow Pencils — 18 months
  • Cream Eyeshadows — 8 to 12 months
  • Liquid and Gel Eyeliner — 4 to 6 months
  • Pencil Eyeliner — 6 to 8 months

These time periods are a general rule of thumb. All makeup products have a “period after opening” symbol. It typically looks like a small open container and will state how many months a product is safe to use after opening.

We hope these makeup tips will help keep your eyes safe from harm. Remember, when it doubt, throw it out! If you’re concerned about the damage makeup may have done to your eye health, schedule an appointment with us today, here:

New Era Eyecare

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The Highest Quality of Eye Care. Our optometrists provide comprehensive eye care to patients of all ages. Schedule an appointment at

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