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Is Makeup Bad For Our Eyes?

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People have been using makeup to enhance their unique, natural features for thousands of years.

Over the millennia, the priority with these beauty products hasn’t always been health, which might have something to do with the disturbing amount of lead-based powders in the history of makeup. You don’t have to worry about lead in your eyeshadow these days, but that doesn’t mean all modern makeup is good for you — or for your eyes.

Makeup And Our Eyes

Some of the riskiest cosmetics for our eyes are waterline eyeliner (eyeliner that goes on the rim of the eyelid rather than outside the eyelashes), false eyelashes or eyelash extensions, and color contact lenses. All of these increase our chance of developing an eye infection because bacteria can build up on them and transfer to your eyes. This is a danger with mascara as well, as the mascara wand is contaminated from the very first use.

Another thing to be careful of is scratching. An accidental jab from an eyeliner pencil or mascara wand can actually leave scratches on the cornea. Makeup that is flaky, dry, and powdery can also fall into the eye and cause irritation, redness, and swelling.

What You Can Do To Protect Your Eyes

So does all this mean we have to give up eye makeup entirely? Of course not! We just need to be careful around our eyes. Here are a few things you can do to keep your eyes healthy while looking your best:

  • Keep an eye on the expiration dates of your makeup, particularly mascara and eye liner. Old makeup is much more likely to cause infection than new makeup, so keep yours up-to-date!
  • Make sure to use clean brushes to apply your makeup.
  • Avoid putting eyeliner on your waterline. Even if you have a steady hand and never poke yourself in the eye applying it, that’s a lot of foreign material you’re putting right next to your tear film!
  • Never share makeup or applicators. No matter how close you are with your friends, you don’t want bacteria from their mascara wands in your eyes!
  • Only buy color contacts from legitimate vendors that require a prescription. You need this for the unique size and shape of your eyes, even if you don’t wear corrective lenses.

Come To Us For Help

Before you step in front of the mirror to put on your makeup tomorrow morning, make sure your beauty routine isn’t coming at the possible expense of your eye health. If you have any questions about the products you’re using, feel free to bring them along to your next appointment so we can take a look! And if you’ve been experiencing any swelling, redness, or other unpleasant eye symptoms, don’t wait to come see us!

We have the most beautiful patients!

Top image by Flickr user Jeff Luyten used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Written by Vision Care Center

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Find us just south of the Sheridan & Glen intersection, on the same side of the road as Marco’s Pizza and across the street from Walgreens.

To contact our Vision Therapy department, please call 309.670.2020 ext. 2, then choose Option #2 to be directed to VT.

  • 4727 N Sheridan Road
  • Peoria, IL 61614


You can find our office on North Cummings Lane, right next door to Rock Valley Physical Therapy. We offer plenty of parking in front of our clinic with accessible parking stalls.

To contact our Vision Therapy department, please call 309.670.2020 ext. 2, then choose Option #2 to be directed to VT.

  • 1009 North Cummings Lane
  • Washington, IL 61571
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