Top 12 Makeup Tips for Contact Lens Wearers


Contact lenses are a convenient and comfortable alternative to bulky reading glasses. But when makeup and contact lenses meet, you might run into some problems.

Makeup has a funny habit of getting in your eyes sometimes. It might even get on, around, or under your contact lens.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these problems. Read on for some helpful makeup tips for contact lens wearers.

1. Put Your Lenses In First

Always insert your contact lenses first before you start applying any makeup, especially if you have vision problems.

When you put your lenses in first, you are able to see clearly to apply your makeup and get the results you want.

2. Wash Your Hands

This should go without saying, but it is best to be reminded. It is extremely important to start off any makeup routine with impeccably clean hands because anything left on your fingers can easily transfer onto your lenses.

You also want to make doubly sure that your hands are 100% dry before applying makeup. Tap water contains contaminants, including a particularly dangerous parasite called Acanthamoeba. This microscopic pathogen can cause rare but severe eye infections.

3. Use Hypoallergenic, Ophthalmologist-Tested Makeup


Hypoallergenic makeup products are products that manufacturers claim are less likely to cause irritation than other cosmetic products.

As a foreign object, a contact lens can irritate or dry out your eyes, even if they are healthy. You would not want to make matters worse by applying makeup around your eye area that may cause further irritation.

However, it’s worth noting that there are no federal standards that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic.” The term can mean whatever a brand wants it to mean.

The next time you shop for makeup, look for products that are labeled not just “hypoallergenic” but also “opthalmologist-tested” or “safe for contact lens wearers.”

4. Go Easy With Eyeliner

Eyeliner is generally okay to use if you wear contact lenses. Just steer clear of your waterline.

The waterline (a beauty term, not a medical one) is the line of skin between the eyelashes and the eye. It is lined with glands that excrete oils into the tear film. Blocking those glands with eyeliner can cause painful little lumps (styes) to appear and uncomfortable dry eyes.

If you must wear eyeliner, look for pencils instead of gels or creams, which can dry and flake.

5. Use Oil-Free Makeup Remover

There’s tons of makeup removers on the market, but experts advise sticking to oil-free ones. Contact lenses contain a significant amount of water, and oil and water don’t mix.

Instead, opt for water-based removers like micellar water, which contains micelles that naturally lift dirt, oil, and makeup without rubbing.

6. Swap Powders for Creams and Liquids


If there is one tip to take away from this list, it is to avoid powder-based products at all costs. Fallout is extremely common with powder-based shadows, and it can be irritating to contact lens wearers.

It’s best to use liquid- or cream-based products instead as these have little to no fallout.

7. Use Fresh Mascara

When mascara dries out, it gets flaky. Those flakes can fall and get into your eyes. They can even become trapped underneath your lenses, causing discomfort and irritation.

To avoid clumpy mascara, make sure to replace your mascara every six months.

It’s also best to avoid fiber mascaras or “lash-extending” mascaras as those produce tiny flakes that can get into your eyes.

Steer clear of waterproof mascara as well because they can stain soft contact lenses.

8. Use Soft Brushes

As mentioned earlier, contact lenses can still irritate or dry out your eyes, even if they are healthy.

A great way to avoid further irritation is to apply makeup products using soft brushes and applicators, like sponges and Q-tips.

9. Sanitize Your Makeup


Another way to avoid discomfort and irritation as a makeup-loving contact lens wearer is to make sure that any makeup products and tools you use are as clean as possible.

The last thing you want to do is put a dirty eyeshadow brush or eyeliner around your eyes. Even if you don’t share your makeup, clean it as best and as often as you can.

Practice healthy makeup habits as well, like keeping your makeup containers tightly closed when not in use and replacing products regularly.

10. Be Wary of False Eyelashes

False lashes, more commonly known as falsies, are an easy and effective way to temporarily add definition to your natural lashes.

However, the glues used to apply them typically contain ingredients that can cause irritation. Individual lashes could also come off and get stuck under your contact lens.

If you wear contact lenses and have ultra-sensitive eyes, it might be best to skip falsies altogether.

If you don’t have sensitive eyes and want to wear falsies, insert your contact lenses first with clean hands before applying falsies. Take them off every day and clean them after each wear.

11. Remove Your Lenses Before Removing Makeup

To avoid contamination, always remove your contact lenses first before removing your makeup.

Follow these steps:

  1. With clean hands, take out your contact lenses. Throw them away if they are daily replacement lenses. Otherwise, put them in your contact lens case.
  2. Pour a water-based makeup remover onto a cotton pad.
  3. Gently wipe the makeup off of your eyes and face.

12. Consider Daily Replacement Contact Lenses


If you regularly wear makeup, talk to your eye doctor about trying a daily replacement lens. This type of lens is designed so that you wear a fresh pair of contact lenses every day, minimizing the risk of irritating surface deposit buildup.

FAQs About Wearing Makeup While Wearing Contact Lenses

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

Makeup products contain ingredients, like alcohol, fragrance, and oils, that can get onto your contact lenses. Oils are especially problematic because soft contact lenses contain a significant amount of water, and water and oil don’t mix. To avoid this, look for oil-free makeup products when buying makeup.

  • How often should I replace my makeup?

The shelf life of makeup products varies, but these are generally safe estimates for when you need to replace them:

Mascara – every three months
Eyeliner – every three months
Cream or liquid eyeshadow – every three to six months
Powder eyeshadow – every two years
Lipstick, lipgloss, and other lip products – every six months
Foundation and concealer – every year

Do not hesitate to throw out a product ahead of its suggested replacement schedule if it looks, smells, or feels unusual.

  • How often should I replace my makeup brushes and other beauty tools?

If you clean your brushes, sponges, and other applicators regularly and store them properly, they should easily last several years. But if they start to shed or leave tiny hairs behind on your skin, feel dry or scratchy, or become irreparably damaged or misshapen, then it’s time to replace them.

  • What is the best eye makeup for contact lens wearers?

No specific brand of eye makeup can be considered the best for contact lens wearers. But if makeup is part of your daily routine, then it’s worth it to invest in products that are hypoallergenic, oil-free, and fragrance-free. Consider swapping powder-based makeup for cream- or liquid-based ones as well.

Bottom Line

Contact lenses can get easily contaminated with debris from eye shadows, mascara, and other eye makeup products. But you don’t have to sacrifice your stunning look for perfect vision. By following the tips we’ve shared above, you can avoid problems related to wearing makeup and contact lenses.

Safety always comes first. If you experience any discomfort or irritation, with clean hands, immediately remove your contact lenses. Then, use saline solution or preservative-free tears to rinse your eye. If you must put a lens back in, use a fresh one. You could also just wear glasses for the day. If the discomfort or irritation persists, consult your eye doctor.

Naturally, do not apply eye makeup or put in contact lenses at all if your eyes are swollen, red or infected.