While mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow can greatly enhance the appearance of the eyes, they can also lead to irritation, redness and infection through poor make-up hygiene and bad habits.
Eye issues that can occur from using make-up can include allergic reactions, conjunctivitis and scratched corneas, according to Ruahan Naude, CEO at Dynamic Vision, who notes that scratched corneas are the most troublesome problems associated with make-up use.
“Accidentally sticking an eyeliner pencil or mascara brush into your eye can cause an abrasion on the cornea. These can be very painful and cause redness and tearing, as well as lead to a bacterial infection of the cornea. Always apply make-up carefully in front of a mirror.”
He also explains that there are oil glands at the edges of the eyelids which create the oily component of tears which lubricate the eyes. Make-up can block these glands, causing an inflammatory condition called posterior meibomitis. Therefore, make-up should not be applied on the waterline, which is the flat inner rim of the eye inside the lash line.
Allergic reactions to ingredients or chemicals in make-up products are not uncommon. Naude advises women to first test eye make-up products on their inner forearms before applying to their eyes. A patch test can be done by applying the product to the forearm and then covering it with a plaster for the day to see if there is a reaction. Those who are prone to allergic reactions should choose formulas that are hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist-tested.
Conjunctivitis (pinkeye) can arise from using make-up products that are past their expiry dates or haven’t been properly sealed. Bacteria can form in the product, causing infection.
Naude advocates the less-is-more approach to eye make-up. “Thick, cakey layers of eye shadow and mascara have more chance of flaking and falling into your eyes. Make-up residue can block oil glands, as well as cause irritation to the cornea. Always wash off your eye make-up before you go to bed to give your eyes a breather,” he says.
Dynamic Vision Optometrists offers these tips for avoiding make-up related eye issues:
· Use a gentle eye make-up remover to remove your make-up before going to bed.
· Throw away mascara and liquid eyeliners if they appear cakey or have a weird odour. Typically, these products have a three to six-month lifespan.
· Do not use make-up products when you have an eye infection. Discard of any products that you have used during an infection.
· Never share eye make-up products with other people as this promotes the transfer of bacteria that can cause infection.
· Do not apply eye make-up while in a moving vehicle. One bump in the road could lead to an accidental stab of an eyeliner pencil into your eye.
· If you are prone to skin allergies, use hypoallergenic products and always do a patch test before applying to your eyelids or lashes.
· Avoid applying eyeliner on the inside of your lash line. Instead, apply eyeliner just above your lashes.
· If you wear contact lenses, insert them before applying make-up.
· Avoid applying heavy make-up close to your eyes to reduce the chance of it flaking into them.
· Discontinue using any product that you suspect could be irritating your eyes. Red eyes, pain, itchiness and vision changes are signs that your eyes could be unhappy.
· See your eye care provider if you experience any unwanted or uncomfortable symptoms.