Wake-Up Call For Eye Damage Caused By Make-Up

In the race to look the best at times we tend to forget the hazards of using eye make-up products like eye liner, mascara, fake lashes and end up with infection & inflammation. 

Eye Damage

This week, Dr Amy Hong walks us on simple mistakes we tend to make while using various eye products and can end up in the hospital.

No. 1: Sharing eye cosmetics, especially eyeliner and mascara:

“Our skin (including eyelids) harbors bacteria and viruses, as do tears, which are bodily fluids. When the eye makeup applicator tip meets skin and tears, the bacteria and viruses residing there attach to the applicator. Once the applicator is reinserted into the tube, the makeup inside will be contaminated.”   

No. 2: Not replacing eye makeup regularly (shoot for every three months):

“You typically won’t find expiration dates on eye makeup like you do on eye drops, and this can be problematic. Bacteria grow and chemicals in the makeup break down, which can lead to eye infections and irritation. It’s always a good idea to change out all makeup products regularly.”   

No. 3: Going to sleep without removing eye makeup:

“Sleeping in your eye makeup is one of the most common mistakes women make! When you apply mascara and eyeliner, you’re essentially placing a thick paste on your eyelashes and lids. If you don’t remove the makeup at night, the skin doesn’t breathe or shed like it’s supposed to, and dead tissue builds up. This can lead to blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margins).” ·      

  “In addition, the oil glands behind the eyelashes can also get clogged. If you end up with eye styes or chalazions (inflamed bumps on the eyelids), clogged oil glands are to blame.”  

No. 4: Buying and wearing fashion or colored contacts you didn’t purchase from an eye doctor: 

Eye Damage

“Contact lenses come in different shapes and sizes and need to be fitted properly. Only an eye doctor is qualified to perform a contact lens fitting. If the lens is too tight, it can cut off circulation to the eye, and if it’s too loose, it can slide around the eye and cause abrasions.” “Eye doctors also educate patients on proper wear and care of the lenses and how often they should be swapped out. When you buy decorative or colored contact lenses over-the-counter or online, proper fit, quality, sterility, expiration and acceptable longevity of wear go out the window.” 

 No. 5: Wearing cheap, fashion sunglasses:

“Sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection can help you avoid wrinkles around the eyes, sun damage to the lens and retina, aging of the eyes and cataract formation.” 

No. 6: Skipping eye protection at the tanning salon:

“Again, you should limit UV light exposure as much as possible – and tanning bed lamps are just as bad – if not worse – as the sun. On rare occasions, eye irritation from spray tan chemicals could lead to an eye infection. If the chemicals do get in your eyes, irrigate eyes with a sterile eye wash right away, then moisturize eyes with artificial tears.”   

No. 7: Wearing eyelash extensions (bacteria central!):

“Do you want dandruff, nasty eye infections and red, irritated bumps on your eyelids? If you don’t, then stop wearing eyelash extensions.”

“While your eyelash extensions may look great fresh out of the salon, in a couple of weeks, most people end up with dead skin trapped at the base of their lashes, between the skin and the glue. The main problem here is people are afraid to clean their eyelids and lashes well, because they fear the extensions will fall out.”  

Eye Damage

“If you don’t clean your eyelids well, you can end up with blepharitis and dandruff scruff on the surface of the eye, which can cause inflammation. Trust me, what I see under the microscope is a disgusting mess. Plus, oil glands can clog and result in eye styes, chalazions, inflammation and eye infections.”

“If you MUST wear eyelash extensions, I recommend you find an accredited lash salon with licensed technicians who pay attention to detail. Some do a great job at separating lashes out and using minimal lash adhesive. Then be sure to GENTLY scrub your eyelids clean daily.”  

What to do when beauty habits DO cause eye health problems:

“Chemicals on or near the eyes  can cause dry eye symptoms and may even cause a stinging sensation. 

  • Don’t neglect these symptoms. Instead, use artificial tears to moisturize the eyes. Simply instill the drop, close your eyes and dab the excess tears away – that way you won’t ruin your makeup. ·   
  • “If your eyes or eyelids turn red, or you experience eye pain, see an eye doctor right away. In the end, it doesn’t matter how good you look if you can’t see.”

Contributed by: Dr. Amy Hong, Ophthalmologist, Key-Whitman Eye Center


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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