BY KEITH BIGGS, OD
Healthy eyes are pretty eyes, but with the popularity of eyeliner, mascara, and eye shadow, eyes become susceptible to the migration of particles into the tear film layer of the eye. One in eight individuals suffers from dry eye disease, a disease causing vision to fluctuate throughout the day, become watery, or have a burning feeling or a feeling of sand in the eyes. Many patients do not understand the impact that makeup may have on the visual system. Studies have shown that application of eyeliner to the inside of the eyelashes may cause a severe decrease in tear film stability. On the inside of the lashes, a row of glands is present. These glands help to release oil onto the front surface of your eye to help keep tears from evaporating. This is a major factor in dry eye disease. Patients that place eyeliner to the inside of the lashes are essentially covering up the glands with makeup, thus reducing the ability of the glands to function properly. One study found 30% more particles in the eyes of patients who applied makeup to this area. In the U.S., we spend around $10 billion a year in cosmetics. While busy trying to look our best, we sometimes forget the impact that some of these products have, and the harm that they can cause.
Here are some tips for makeup use to keep eye makeup from contributing to dry eye disease.
Application—Always apply makeup outside of the lash line and apply mascara from the tips, rather than the roots of the lashes. This cannot be emphasized enough. Applying to the inside of the lash covers up the oil glands that help to stabilize eye lubrication. And always apply eye drops before applying makeup, as the drop can carry makeup particles into the eye.
Removal—Always remove makeup before bed. Sleeping with makeup on can lead to oil glands becoming clogged or even infected. Avoid mineral oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, and Diazolidinyl urea, and instead, use cleaners that are gel based and paraben free.
Makeup Hygiene—This is one that many patients do not think about, but the cleaning of applicators is critical to keep infections away. Cleaning brushes, and using different applicators for different parts of the face will help tremendously. Do not use the same pencil on your lips that you do your eyes. Another tip that patients forget is to sharpen the pencil before each application. This is to help remove the bacteria that accumulates on the outer portion of the pencil. Never share makeup, and dispose of makeup every 3-6 months. If you have any type of eye infection, do not use your makeup, as you may have contaminated it.
Makeup Type—Powders easily aggravate the eyes due to particles freely floating and falling. Instead, use cream shadows and foundations. As for mascara, it’s a good idea to use thickening mascara instead of waterproof mascara, as they are less likely to flake. Avoid makeup with cadmium, selenium, thallium, nickel, lead, carmine, beryllium, and arsenic.
If you suffer from dry eye, consider shifting the focus to other natural parts of beauty, such as cheeks and lips. This allows your eyes to stay as free from contaminants as possible.