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The Safe Way to Use Eye Makeup

Posted on September 8th, 2017

Using makeup to accentuate your features on a day-to-day basis, for special occasions, or for the purposes of art and self-expression can be fun. However, adopting safe-use habits for your beauty products is important to maintain excellent eye health. FYidoctors reviews how to properly use, care for, and dispose of cosmetics to make sure you’re not putting those precious peepers at risk.

The tissues that your eyes are comprised of are delicate and highly sensitive to aggravators such as wind, sun, dust, dirt, or any foreign object. This includes the dyes, adhesives, and other ingredients in makeup products that sit near the eye. Some of these additives can trigger inflammation, irritation, and infection if misused. In very rare cases, eye infections caused by beauty products can lead to vision loss or blindness.

Best handling practices

Although you may often find yourself rushing out the door with just a few moments to spare to apply your makeup, but it’s important to practice safe application habits. Before starting, wash your hands and nails well. Always apply mascara and eyeliner away from your waterline to avoid blocking the oil glands on eyelids. Never use saliva to moisten dry or caked makeup, it is laden with bacteria.

Before bed, be sure to remove all makeup. Use cotton swabs or pre-moistened wipes to gently remove any traces from along the base of your lids and lashes.

Adhere to all products’ recommended replacement schedule. Each item has a different shelf life, so make sure to read the label. A useful tip is to keep a date log of when each item in your makeup bag was opened, and its expiry date. Here are some general guidelines for when to replace your makeup:



Powders (including blushes, bronzers, and shadows)

Two years

Cream shadows and blushes

12-18 months

Oil-free foundation

One year

Cream compact foundation

18 months


12-18 months

Lipstick and lip liner

One year

Lip gloss

18-24 months

Pencil eyeliner

Two years

Liquid or gel eyeliner

Three months


Three months

Listen to your body

Every person has a different sensitivity to makeup products. A good rule of thumb is to stop using and toss out any eye cosmetics that cause irritation, which can take the form of redness and itchiness. It is not recommended to use any makeup until your eyes have cleared. For those with allergies or sensitive skin, try out any new product on a patch of skin on your forearm. If your body doesn’t react negatively to it, try the product on one eye first, and then wait to see if any irritation occurs before applying it to the other side.

Never share makeup. Doing so can put your eyes at risk of infection spreading from person to person.

Ingredients to watch out for

Disturbing research in the US has found that common ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, which include carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Here are chemicals that could potentially be in your makeup to watch out for.

  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives these endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer.
  • Coal tar dyes: P-phenylenediamine and colours listed as "CI" followed by a five-digit number may have the potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)-related ingredients: Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. This ingredient can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer.
  • Dibutyl phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products, this ingredient is a suspected potential endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant.
  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15 are used in a variety of cosmetics. They slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
  • Parabens: Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives, this ingredient is a suspected endocrine disrupter and may interfere with male reproductive functions.

If you have any further questions about safe eye makeup practices, visit your local Visique optometrist.