Can I Wear Makeup with Contacts? 8 Common Questions About Makeup & Contact Lenses

According to the CDC, 45 million Americans wear contact lenses, and the average age of contact lenses wearers is 31 years. Meanwhile, numbers from Statista indicate that 41% of Americans between the ages of 30 and 59 wear makeup every day.

While there is no way to correlate these separate data sets, it’s probably accurate to say that many contact lens wearers also wear makeup.

Some of you may be wondering about the safety of wearing makeup while also wearing contact lenses. You may also have other questions about wearing makeup while wearing contact lenses. is here to help clear up the confusion. In this post, we answer eight common questions about wearing makeup while wearing contact lenses. 

  1. Can I wear makeup if I wear contact lenses?

Yes, you can. You can apply makeup to your eye area even if you wear contact lenses. Wearing contact lenses doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing makeup. You just have to make sure that you are doing it safely and carefully.

When wearing makeup while also wearing contact lenses, always follow these safety protocols:

  • Always wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water before inserting your contact lenses and applying makeup.
  • Always completely dry your hands before handling your contact lenses and makeup products.
  • Always ensure that your contact lenses are disinfected before wearing them.
  • Always keep your makeup brushes and other makeup accessories clean to prevent eye infections.
  • Never use other people’s makeup or makeup accessories.
  • Never insert contact lenses or apply makeup while in a moving vehicle. A bumpy ride can cause you to drop your contact lenses or cause you to poke yourself in the eye with your makeup brush or pencil.
  1. Should I insert contact lenses before or after applying makeup?

Always insert your contact lenses before putting on makeup. Under no circumstances should you apply makeup first and then insert your contact lenses.

What is the difference, you ask?

The difference is that tiny particles of makeup will transfer to your fingers whenever you apply makeup, and this isn’t something you can avoid. If you handle your contact lenses after applying makeup, the makeup residue on your fingers will contaminate your contact lenses. 

Foreign substances contaminating your contact lenses can lead to irreversible lens damage. You’ll have to dispose of your contact lenses, which is unnecessary and wasteful. Furthermore, wearing contaminated contact lenses can result in severe eye infections. 

  1. Why do my contact lenses get blurry when I wear makeup?

Makeup and cosmetic products contain a wide variety of ingredients, including alcohol, fragrance, and oils. These ingredients, particularly the oils, can seep into your eyes and get on your contact lenses.

Soft contact lenses contain a significant amount of water, and water and oil don’t mix. When oil gets on your contact lenses, your contact lenses get cloudy, which leads to blurry vision.

When buying makeup, especially eye makeup, it’s best to look for oil-free products. This way, you don’t have to worry about oils contaminating your contact lenses.

  1. Can I wear mascara if I wear contact lenses?

Yes. You can wear mascara even if you wear contact lenses. However, there are certain caveats. If you want to wear mascara, avoid fiber mascaras. Fiber mascaras can form clumps that can get into your eyes and contaminate your lenses. The tiny particles of these types of mascara can also easily fall into your eyes and ruin your contact lenses.

The best type of mascara for contact lens wearers are liquid, hypoallergenic, and oil-free mascaras that don’t contain any fine solid particles that can easily contaminate your contact lenses.

  1. Can I apply eyeliner on my waterline?

First, you have to understand that there is no such thing as the eye waterline. The term waterline is not a proper medical term for any part of the eye. It’s a term only used in the beauty industry and describes the line of skin between your eyelashes and eye.

The waterline touches your eye because it is very close to the eye. If you wear contact lenses, avoid applying eyeliner to the waterline as the eyeliner can easily get on your contact lenses. It’s common for non-contact lens wearers to apply eyeliner to their waterline, but doing so can cause eye irritation and redness for contact lens wearers.  

  1. How often should I replace my makeup?

Your makeup can harbor foreign substances like bacteria, fungi, mold, and yeast. These substances can get into your eyes and cause potentially serious eye infections. As such, you should regularly dispose of and replace your makeup. The shelf life of products varies, and it can be confusing to keep track of it all. To make it easier, just keep the following list in mind:

  • Mascara – every three months
  • Eyeliner – every three months
  • Cream or liquid eyeshadow – every three to six months
  • Lipsticks, lip-gloss, and other lip products – every six months
  • Foundation – every year
  • Powder eyeshadow – every two years

These replacement schedules are not concrete. Don’t hesitate to throw out any makeup ahead of its recommended replacement schedule if you notice any changes in its consistency, quality, or smell. By regularly replacing your makeup, you can hel[p avoid eye issues such as redness, dry eyes, eye pain, and eye infections.

  1. When should I replace my makeup brushes and other makeup applicators?

Your makeup brushes and applicators come in direct contact with your skin. Over time, bacteria and fungi can accumulate on your brushes and applicators. These bacteria and fungi can easily transfer to your eyes, which is why you should make it a point to replace your makeup brushes and applicators every so often. 

Experts recommend replacing your makeup brushes every three months and sponges every two months to minimize bacterial growth and prevent skin or eye infections. However, you can replace your brushes sooner than three months if you notice any bad smell or see that they have shed a significant portion of their bristles.

In addition to regular replacement, you should also thoroughly clean your brushes, sponges, and other applicators. Doing so further minimizes bacterial growth and keeps them in prime condition. No matter how much you clean your brushes, sponges, and other applicators, though, you can’t completely prevent bacteria from growing, which is why regular replacement is still the best solution.

  1. What is the best makeup for contact lens wearers?

There are countless makeup brands available, and none of them can be considered the best for any contact lens wearer. However, if you wear contact lenses, it’s worth it to invest in makeup that is:

  • Hypoallergenic

Hypoallergenic makeup is any product that the manufacturer labels as less likely to cause allergies. If you wear contact lenses, have sensitive eyes, or are prone to allergies, buying hypoallergenic makeup should be a priority.

However, just because a cosmetic product is tagged as hypoallergenic doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed not to cause any allergies. There is no such thing as non-allergenic makeup, so hypoallergenic makeup can still induce an allergic reaction in some people. 

Furthermore, the FDA doesn’t regulate cosmetics and products labeled as hypoallergenic. As such, it falls on you to do your due diligence before buying any makeup. Read the ingredients list to see if the makeup contains anything that will cause allergies or skin and eye issues for you.  

  • Oil-free

Oil-free makeup is any makeup that doesn’t contain olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, or other plant and mineral oils. When you use makeup with any oil, you run the risk of the oil seeping into your eyes and contaminating your contact lenses.

Contact lenses contain a large amount of water. If oil gets on your contact lenses, the oil will cloud the lens, blur your vision, and potentially cause an infection.

  • Fragrance-free

Makeup that contains fragrances will likely have alcohol. While alcohol is not technically bad for the skin, it’s still a harsh chemical. Furthermore, the scent from makeup can easily get into your eyes and cause a burning or stinging sensation.

The fragrance or alcohol from makeup can also damage and dry out your contact lenses, which is why you should just opt for fragrance-free makeup.

  • Cream-based or liquid-based

Compared to powder-based makeup, cream-based or liquid-based makeup is the better choice for contact lens wearers.

The fine particles in powder-based makeup can easily transfer to your eyes and get on your contact lenses. These fine makeup particles can damage your contact lenses and cause eye infections. Using cream-based or liquid-based makeup doesn’t contain fine powder particles, so you won’t have to worry about particles getting into your eyes and contaminating your contact lenses.


This article aims to educate contact lens wearers about improving safety and comfort when it comes to wearing makeup while wearing contact lenses. Follow the advice in this post, and you can enjoy the benefits of both makeup and contact lenses.