Skip to main content

Call 201-295-2020 and schedule your eye exam

Ocular Vision Care

Dr. Rodolfo L. Rodriguez, O.D., P.A.
Home » Eye Health Information » Cosmetics and Eye Safety

Cosmetics and Eye Safety

Cleanliness is essential with anything that is used near the eyes. There are several measures that can be taken to prevent infections caused by cosmetics:

  • Wash hands before using makeup to prevent exposing your eyes and the makeup to germs.
  • Never apply eye cosmetics in a moving vehicle. Scratching the eye with a mascara applicator can lead to severe infections such corneal ulcers, loss of lashes, or even blindness
  • Make sure that you use only clean cosmetic tools. Never reuse an old applicator with a fresh cosmetic, as it may introduce germs to the new cosmetic.
  • Don’t share or swap eye makeup; it can lead to serious eye problems. The brush or applicator sponge can become contaminated causing infection.
  • Never moisten brushes or applicators with saliva; the mouth contains germs that can contaminate the cosmetic and cause eye infections.
  • Never add any liquid to a cosmetic product unless specified by the instructions. Don’t add water to cosmetics. Water may introduce germs and dilute the preservative that is intended to protect against microbial growth.
  • Remove make up prior to going to sleep. If mascara flakes into your eyes while sleeping it may cause scratches causing itching, redness or eye infection
  • Don’t use eye cosmetics if you have an eye infection or the skin around the eye is red or inflamed. Discard any cosmetic you were using when you first discovered any symptoms of infection. Wait until the infection is completely healed and ask your eyecare practioner before returning to cosmetic use.
  • Keep makeup containers tightly closed when not in use.
  • Keep makeup out of the sunlight to avoid destroying the preservatives.
  • Keep cosmetics away from high heat or cold that can affect the preservative. Cosmetics held for long periods in hot or cold cars are more susceptible to having the preservative deteriorate.
  • Never use a lip liner as eyeliner; use only cosmetics intended for the eyes
  • Do not switch mascara brushes from one tube to another
  • Keep containers clean. Don't allow cosmetics to become contaminated with dirt.
  • Makeup should be applied far away from the eye, below and above the lash margin; mascara should be applied only to the tip of the eyelashes.
  • Permanent eyelid tattooing, eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes can cause serious eye injuries.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding discarding cosmetics; usually two to four months after purchase. Buy fresh cosmetics periodically.
  • Discard any makeup if the color changes or an odor develops. Preservatives can degrade over time and may not be able to protect against infection.
  • Testers in retail stores and at cosmetics counters can spread germs. Avoid trying testers; but if you do, make sure that only fresh applicators are used.
  • If you are having eye surgery, ask your eyecare practitionerabout the use of cosmetics before and after eye surgery to avoid infection. Stop wearing makeup a few days before eye surgery and don’t resume using cosmetics until cleared by your eyedoctor. Water-based cosmetics are easier to remove and are generally gentler on an eye healing from surgery.
  • Keep eyeliner pencils sharpened to prevent injury from the rough wood casing.
  • When using an eyelash curler, inspect the rubber, it should not be stiff or cracked. Use the curler before applying mascara. People that have nickel allergies should be aware that the metal frame may contain nickel.
  • Some people are sensitive to water-proof mascara. They may have less sensitivity to a water-based product (one that washes off with water).
  • Makeup removers can cause irritation, avoiding getting them in the eyes.
  • Not only allergy suffers, but anyone can develop allergic reactions to fragrances or other ingredients in hair sprays and eye cosmetics.  Symptoms of eye allergies include itching, tearing, redness, or swelling of the eyelids.Pencil eyeliner and powder eye shadow may cause less irritation than liquid eyeliner and liquid eye shadow. Allergy sufferers should choose hypo-allergenic products.
  • Inspect the ingredients. It is a legal requirement in the US to list all ingredients in cosmetics. If the ingredients are not listed on the package or on a sheet available near the product, suspect that the product may be dangerous. Some cosmetics contain chemicals that can cause eye damage or heavy metals that can cause long term health problems, such as lead poisoning.
  • All-natural products, such as mineral-based eye shadow are usually safer.
  • People who wear contact lenses should take extra caution because they can develop serious corneal ulcers or corneal abrasions if they don’t follow proper contact lens hygiene or if they get dust particles under the contact lens. Contact lenses can be contaminated with residues, oils, or germs found in cosmetics. To avoid problems: always wash your hands before handling contact lenses; insert contact lenses before applying makeup and take them out prior to removing cosmetics.
  • Be particularly careful using cosmetics if you wear contact lenses, have allergies or suffer from skin conditions such as Rosacea, Psoriasis, or systemic diseases such as Diabetes or an eye conditions such as Blepharitis.

If you have questions about the safe use of eye cosmetics, consult your eye care practioner. Stop using eye products that causes irritation. If the irritation persists or you have any infection, see an optometric physician (eye doctor) immediately.