Eye Health Central

How to protect your eyes and contact lenses when using makeup?

Makeup and your eye health

makeup eye health

You may use makeup to alter your appearance minimally or even drastically, to change your look and boost your confidence too, but when it comes to your eye health, when you apply and handle cosmetics you need to be careful, especially if you wear contact lenses. Here are 17 ways that can help you protect your eyes and contact lenses when using makeup.

1. Apply Contact Lenses First

Always put your contact lenses in before you start applying your makeup. This minimises the risk of makeup particles getting onto your lenses, which could cause you discomfort and potential irritation in your eyes. Additionally, applying contact lenses after makeup increases the risk of smudging your makeup.

2. Opt for Non-allergenic Makeup

Hypoallergenic makeup products are designed to minimise your risk of allergic reactions. They can be helpful for contact lens wearers, as they reduce the likelihood of allergens entering your eye and irritating them. Be on the lookout for products that are labeled 'hypoallergenic' or 'safe for sensitive eyes'.

3. Keep Your Tools Clean

Bacteria easily accumulates on makeup brushes, sponges and eyelash curlers, which can lead to contracting eye infections. It is important to clean your makeup tools regularly! Brushes used for eye makeup should ideally be cleaned after each use, but at the very least, once a week.

4. Careful with Eye Liner

Avoid your waterline! If you’re using eyeliner, you should avoid applying it to your waterline. The liner can block your oil glands that produce oils to keep your eyes moist, which leads to you having dry eyes. Also, particles can dislodge from the waterline and get trapped under your contact lenses, which will cause you great discomfort.

5. Use Water-Based Makeup

Go for water-based rather than oil-based makeup! Oil-based products are more likely to cause a film to form on your contact lenses and could blur your vision.

6. Avoid Powdered Eye Shadows

Powdered eye shadows can easily get into your eyes or onto your lenses, which would cause you discomfort and a potential infection. Cream eye shadows are the safer choice if you’re a contact lens wearer.

7. Replace Makeup Regularly

Remember: All makeup products have a shelf life, after which they can hold bacteria and cause eye infections. As a general rule of thumb, you should replace your mascara every 3 months, eyeliner and eye shadow every 6 to 12 months and foundation every 12 months.

8. Never Share Your Makeup

Sharing is not always caring. Sharing makeup products, especially eye makeup, can spread bacteria and viruses, leading to serious eye infections. Always use your own makeup and avoid trying samples in stores unless they’re from a fresh tester.

9. Remove Contact Lenses Before Removing Makeup

At the end of the day, always remove your contact lenses before you remove your makeup. This prevents makeup particles from getting trapped under your lenses and reduces the chance of irritating your eyes.

10. Use a Gentle Makeup Remover

Choose a gentle, oil-free makeup remover. Oil-based removers can leave a residue on your lenses, and removers that contain harsh chemicals can irritate your eyes. If residue does get onto your lenses, rinse them with your lens solution.

11. Don’t Sleep in Your Makeup

Sleeping in your makeup can cause particles to get into your eyes, leading to irritation, redness and possible infection. Make sure to remove all your makeup before going to bed, even if you’re not wearing contact lenses.

12. Know When to Stop

If you experience persistent eye discomfort, redness or blurry vision every time after applying a certain makeup product, stop using it and consult your eye care professional. It's crucial to listen to your body and prioritise your health over aesthetics.

Protecting your eyes and contact lenses when using makeup involves a careful selection of products, eye hygiene and consistent practices. By following the above steps, you can ensure that your love of makeup doesn't interfere with the health of your eyes or the comfort of your contact lenses.

13. Avoid Glitter and Pearl Makeup

Glitter and pearl makeup may add a bit of sparkle to your look, but they can cause you issues if you wear contact lenses. These types of makeup have a much higher likelihood of shedding particles into your eye, which can stick to your lenses and cause irritation or even scratches to the cornea. If you must use them, apply them cautiously and consider choosing brands that offer glitter specifically designed to be safer for use around the eyes.

14. Do Not Use Expired Makeup

Just like food, makeup also has an expiration date. Using expired products can lead to infections and allergic reactions, as they might have changed chemically and physically, and could also contain harmful bacteria. Check the expiration date on the packaging!

15. Be Extra Cautious with False Eyelashes and Eyelash Glue

False eyelashes may look good but they can also elevate your risk of eye irritation and allergic reactions, especially from the glue. If you wear contact lenses, be extra careful when applying and removing your fake lashes. You must avoid getting the adhesive on your lenses and always remove your lenses before taking off your lashes at the end of the day.

16. Regular Eye Exams

Regular eye exams can help detect any issues caused by your makeup use early, which helps with speedy treatment and avoiding complications. Make sure to tell your optometrist about any eye symptoms you’ve had and ask for additional makeup tips specific to your eye health and lens type.

17. Eye Hygiene

Lastly, proper eye hygiene is key here. Make sure to wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses or applying makeup. Keep your contact lens case clean and replace it every three months. Use a contact lens solution to clean your lenses. 

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 12 Jun 2023, Last modified: 20 May 2024