MakeUp Safe for Eyes:

Eye Appeal: Make Sure Your Makeup Is Safe

by Orlin Sorensen

Cosmetic ads may promise plump, sexy lashes that will spiral you into superstardom, but one wrong mascara-wand move could mean you end up looking like Cyclops. We at Vision for Life like to look as fabulous as the next gal (or guy), but we also like to play it safe when it comes to eye health. So read our list of makeup tips, and remember-though you may look pretty in pink, nobody looks good in pinkeye.

Be the Queen of Hygiene

  • Wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics. Bacteria on your hands could be transferred to your eyes, causing an infection.
  • Make sure that any instrument (for example, brushes, wands, eyelash curlers) you place near the eye area is clean.
  • Keep makeup containers clean. Don't allow cosmetics to become contaminated with dirt, hair, or dust.
  • Get fresh -- Don't use old eye cosmetics. Replace cosmetics every six months
  • to avoid excess contamination with bacteria.
  • Never use an old applicator in a fresh cosmetic product. The applicator will transfer bacteria to the new product.
  • After any eye infection, such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye), buy fresh eye makeup.
  • Don't add saliva or water to moisten dried-up mascara-throw it away! The bacteria from your mouth may grow in the mascara and cause infection. Adding water may introduce bacteria and will dilute the preservative that is intended to protect against microbial growth.
  • Discard makeup if the color changes or it develops an odor.
  • Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be
  • Yes, when he wrote that, Shakespeare was talking about money, but then again, he'd never heard of Maybelline. Don't share or swap eye cosmetics-not even with your sister. Each person has different skin bacteria and another person's bacteria may be hazardous to you.
  • Don't use multiperson "testers" at the cosmetics counter. Only sample cosmetics using single-use applicators, such as clean cotton swabs, that are thrown away after each use.

Apply Caution

  • If you knew that applying makeup in the car or on the bus could result in blindness, wouldn't you get up earlier? It may seem like you're saving time, but if you hit a bump, come to a sudden stop, or are hit by another vehicle, you risk injuring your eye. A mascara wand or eye pencil (or even a fingernail) can abrade the cornea, causing an infection that could lead to a potentially blinding corneal ulcer.
  • Only use eye makeup that is approved for that use; for example, don't use a lip liner as an eyeliner or blush as eye shadow. You could expose your eyes to contamination or to color additives that are not approved for use near the eye.
  • Avoid color additives such as so-called permanent eyelash tints and kohl. Although kohl is a traditional eye enhancer in some parts of the world, it contains lead and is not approved for cosmetic use in the United States.
  • Apply eyeliner outside the lash line (away from the eye) to avoid direct contact of the cosmetic with the eye.
  • Keep eyeliner pencils sharpened so that the rough wood casing won't scratch the eye or eyelid.
  • If you use an eyelash curler, make sure the rubber is not stiff or cracking. Curl your lashes before applying mascara, so that it won't flake off into your eyes.

In General

  • Eyelids are very sensitive and can be especially prone to allergic reactions caused by certain cosmetics. Try new makeup by applying a bit of it on your arm for a few days to check for an allergic reaction before you put it on your face.
  • Although eye-makeup removers are designed for use in the eye area, avoid getting them directly in your eye, where they can cause irritation.
  • If you suffer from allergies, you may need to try different products until you find one that is safe. However, if you continue to have problems after switching products, the cause may be blepharitis, a chronic inflammation of the eyelids, rather than an allergy: Consult your eye doctor.
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