How Safe is Your Eye Makeup Routine?

Your eye makeup routine could be damaging to your eyes.

Department stores and drugstore aisles are filled with a tempting selection of makeup colors and products intended for the eyes. While eye makeup and cosmetics can enhance your appearance, knowing how to apply and remove makeup properly will not only make your eyes look more beautiful, but will protect your vision as well. If applied and stored carelessly, makeup can cause minor infections, allergic reactions, and more serious injuries. Although rare, the most serious eye issues caused by makeup application can involve injuries to the cornea.

Eye cosmetics are generally safe to use, as long as you use them properly. Over time, bacteria and fungi can grow in cosmetic packaging and cases. If you continue to use these products to decorate your eyes, you could transfer these germs directly into your eyes. If you’re curious about your eye makeup routine and about whether or not it’s safe for your eyes, here are some expert tips and recommendations.

Avoid Dried-Out Mascara

When it comes to mascara, it’s best to replace it every two to four months, or sooner if it’s dried out. If your mascara tube is dried out, toss it in the trash immediately—never attempt to moisten it with saliva or water. In order to keep track of how long you’ve had your mascara, keep a permanent marker in your make-up kit and mark the date you open a new tube of mascara. This way, you won’t use it past its shelf-life and can effectively reduce your chances of contracting a nasty eye infection from your mascara wand. This method of tracking time can be used for other makeup products as well.

Check the Label

As with any cosmetic product sold to the public, eye cosmetics are required to have an ingredient declaration on the label. Any cosmetic products without an ingredient declaration on the label are illegal to purchase in the United States. If you wish to avoid certain ingredients due to allergies or general health concerns, check the ingredient declaration on the label of your cosmetics. If you’re curious about what ingredients are in your makeup, visit EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. You can search the database for over 68,000 products and find out which of your favorite cosmetics could be harmful to your health.


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Avoid Kohl Eyeliners

Although kohl eyeliners are incredibly popular, they may contain dangerous levels of lead and are unapproved for cosmetic use in the United States. The FDA cites three main reasons for detaining the imports of kohl: 1) for containing an unsafe color additive, 2) for labeling that describes the product falsely as “FDA Approved”, and 3) for lack of an ingredient declaration. Kohl consists of the salts of heavy metals, and has been linked to lead poisoning in children. While some eye makeup products may be labeled with the world “kohl”, this label is only indicating the shade, and not the ingredients.

Hold Still, Don’t Share, & Other Tips

It may seem like an efficient use of your time to apply your makeup in the car or while on the bus, but resist that temptation. With each bump in the road you risk scratching your cornea or otherwise damaging your eye. Even a slight scratch on the cornea can result in a serious infection. Don’t share or swap cosmetics, even with your best friend or relative. Another person’s germs may be hazardous to you, which is why you should also avoid sampling cosmetics at a store. If you must try on makeup at a store, ensure they’re applied with single-use applicators, such as clean cotton swabs or one-time use mascara wands.