Makeup, especially eye makeup, can be hazardous to apply and wear. In spite of those risks, most women wear eye makeup every day. If you are among those that use mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, or other products to enhance the beauty of your eyes, there are safe ways to do so.
Most people do not think of makeup as a threat to their vision. After all, it isn’t like mascara has a warning label on it the way cigarettes do or toys with parts that are too small for some children do. There are, however, significant risks that come with its application and wear. These concerns can put your vision at risk. Some of them seem intuitive, but others may come as a surprise to you.
MakeUp Risks to Your Eyes
- Bacterial infections. Bacteria can build up in your makeup and can flourish in expired makeup. Even though most makeup products contain preservatives that deter the growth of bacteria it can still grow on the surface and when the preservatives reach the end of their shelf life. Bacteria like dark and moist places, which describes many of your eye makeup products. An older product means that the bacteria have had more time to multiply. Also, when you have an eye infection and use makeup you are transferring that bacteria to the applicator and into the product itself. The bacteria from your hands may transfer onto your applicators and can also be hazardous to your eye health. When you sleep with your makeup on you are encouraging bacteria buildup on your eyes. Bacterial infections can be very dangerous and frequently need to be treated by an eye doctor. (Source).
- Transmittable disease. The most common of these is conjunctivitis or pink eye. In many cases, this is highly contagious (viral and bacterial forms). Other eye diseases that are passed from person to person include chlamydia and gonococcal; both are sexually transmitted diseases which cause a form of conjunctivitis. Eye herpes is also contagious. These can lead to vision loss in some cases.
- Injury. This can include a scratched cornea, or corneal abrasion, which is perhaps the most serious makeup induced injury you can have. When you scrape your eye with a mascara brush or eyeliner pencil, or you get a cut from a piece of glitter in your eye, you should not assume that it is innocuous and you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Infection. Besides from bacteria building up in your makeup, you can get an infection in your eye if you injure it. This is a serious side effect of scratching your eye with a makeup applicator or getting sharp or abrasive bits of makeup into your eye. Eye infections can have serious consequences.
- Irritation. If you have sensitive eyes, or you get makeup in your eye, it can cause irritation. Many preservatives, stabilizers, and anti-caking agents can irritate your skin or eyeball and are linked to cancer.
- Contact Lens Issues. Wearing contact lenses increases your risk of eye makeup complications. Contacts may accumulate flakes of makeup or fibers from mascara and deposit them onto your eye’s surface, causing irritation. Dirty contacts can also cause eye infections. (Source).
- Allergic Reaction. Sometimes you know immediately that you have an allergy and sometimes it subtly develops over time. Makeup labeled “hypoallergenic” means that most people will not react so it tends to be safer. There are certain ingredients that do tend to cause issues for more people, so to be safe, avoid them when possible. These include: lead-based kohl, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), benzophenone, formaldehyde, homosalate, ethanolamine compounds, sulfates, phthalates, and talc.
How to Keep Your Vision Safe from MakeUp
The easiest way to keep your vision safe is to protect your eyes from hazards. Some hazards cannot be so easily avoided and accidents do happen, but there are plenty of safety precautions that can be taken. When it comes to eye makeup this is especially true. And in understanding the risks that exist, it becomes pretty easy to avoid them and with the possibility of serious impact to your eye health and your vision you should have plenty of incentive to follow these guidelines.
- Don’t share your eye makeup. Caring is sharing, it is true, but in this case, all you are doing is sharing bacteria and possibly demodex mites that can cause blepharitis and other serious eye issues. One of the best ways to avoid eye infections and diseases is to be the only one using your products and applicators.
- Throw out old makeup every 3-4 months and dried out mascara. Since makeup carries bacteria buildup and the older the makeup is the more the risk, it is wise to dispose and refresh frequently. Along these lines, do not buy expired or used makeup and be sure to get rid of makeup after you have an eye infection.
- Do not apply eyeliner or other makeup on the “wet edge” of your eyelids. This helps to avoid the risk of scratching your eye, it keeps makeup from crumbling or running into your eye, and it prevents you from blocking the tear ducts that are on the inside of the lids.
- Avoid glitter. Glitter is sharp and abrasive and can do serious damage to the eye and the underside of the eyelids. The same is true for any type of abrasive product, typically those that have shimmer.
- Keep your eyeliner pencil sharp. Sharp points are more accurate, leaving less chance that you have an accident when applying liner to the outside lids.
- When you are on the go, do not apply eye makeup, it is too easy to make a mistake while moving, or when a bump is hit, and stab or scrape your eye.
- Remove your makeup at the end of the day with a cleanser that is appropriate for that makeup and is gentle on your eye area.
- Curl your lashes before you apply mascara. This keeps the application angled away from the eye surface and reduces accidents.
- Keep cosmetics below 85 degrees to reduce the opportunity for bacteria to grow and to preserve the integrity of the product.
- Wash your hands before you apply makeup. This helps to keep any bacteria on your hands and under your fingernails from getting into your eyes.
- Clean applicators frequently to avoid bacterial buildup.
- Clean contact lenses well every day or use daily disposable lenses to keep makeup from building upon them that can damage your eyes.
- If you scratch your eye seek medical attention from an eye doctor. See an eye doctor regularly to make sure that your eyes are healthy. The doctor will notice any early warning signs of issues that might be related to your eye makeup so that they can be corrected before they impact your vision
- Read labels and avoid harmful, harsh, abrasive, or irritating ingredients. If you find yourself having a reaction, stop using that product.
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