There are literally thousands of beauty bloggers, vloggers, brands and influencers on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, SnapChat and more. Year-round, these beauty influencers literally give meaning to the word S-L-A-Y with tips, tricks and how-to videos highlighting the latest beauty trends. There are so many trends to keep up with (we won’t even try), but we would be remiss if we didn’t offer some tips for keeping your eyes – your most prized sense – not only on point, but safe! Here’s what you need to know for makeup with eye health in mind.
Tip #1: Say No to Trends That Put Your Eyes in Harm’s Way
Decorative and costume lenses popular around Halloween and other holidays are not safe. Period. They are not manufactured to the same standards as your vision correcting lenses and may contain potential harmful compounds. Without a proper fit by an eyecare professional, contacts can be very damaging. They may look fun, but it is just one day of the year and doesn’t warrant risking your eye health and vision. While decorative lenses are at the top of the “don’t do” list, gluing spikes and rhinestones at the lash line are not far behind. Let’s be real, the only reason these trends exist is to create a cool Instagram picture. Resist.
Tip #2: Wearing Make-Up While Wearing Contacts
Using makeup adds a layer of complexity to the process of wearing contacts and, frankly, an element of risk to eye health. Minimize the risk of irritating and infecting your eyes when wearing contacts and makeup by making sure your hands are thoroughly clean and dry before you start. Why dry hands? Because tap water isn’t sterile and may, in fact, contain bacteria that could wind up in and around your eyes. Consider putting in your contacts after you have applied your makeup. You want to make certain there isn’t any powder or eyeliner in your eye that could get trapped under your contact and risk scratching or otherwise irritating your eye.
Tip #3: Clean Brushes = Healthy Eyes
Make a habit of cleaning your brushes. While for eye health, there is heightened sensitivity around eye makeup brushes, the reality is ALL your brushes need to be kept clean. Why?
- Clean brushes do a better job of applying cosmetics, blending and finishing your look.
- Better for lose brush hairs to come out while washing them than have one fall into your eye when swirling on some bronzer or blending your foundation.
- Dirty brushes are really, truly gross. They contaminate all of your products which can lead to bad things for your skin and eyes. Just. Don’t.
Tip #4: Fresh Is Best for Eye Health
Maintain a schedule for replacing your makeup. All cosmetics have a shelf life, but once it is opened and in use, the clock is ticking MUCH faster (read Tip #3 about dirty brushes). It is important to pay close attention to the products you use around your eyes. Replace your mascara, eyeliners and eyeshadows AT LEAST every 3 months. And, if you get an eye infection, throw it all away and start with new (after the infection clears). A few other tips on this topic:
- Do not under any circumstances share eye makeup products with anyone. Ever.
- Avoid product testers at the beauty counter – even those that offer single-use applicators. Test the product on the inside of your arm.
- Don’t let anything but sealed, new, fresh product get anywhere near your eyes.
- If you must, use sterile solution instead of water to mix with shadows.
Tip #5: Picking Products
Flecks of eyeshadow in your eyes under the best of circumstances is a pain. Add contacts to the mix and a real mess of a problem is made. Hopefully the offending fleck simply stains the front of your contact and you simply wash your hands, dry them, remove your contact lens and rinse it with sterile solution before returning it back to your eyeball. Then resume your makeup application. Easy! However, if said fleck winds up under your lens, please do take care while performing the previously mentioned protocol so as not to further irritate your already watering eye. It should go without saying at this juncture that, while they are having a moment right now, please stay away from the chunky and metallic glitter products. Most eye health professionals recommend cream-based eye makeup to reduce the risk of dust and debris winding up in the eye. Oil-based creams can be very irritating if the produce does get into the eye, so look for water-based creams. And, look for hypo and non-allergenic brands.
Tip #6: Lash lessons
A few words about mascara. There has been an explosion of formulas in this makeup product category and, as such, for the contact lens wearer, there are a few to avoid. In particular, mascaras that have fibers in the product, ostensibly to add some heft and length to your lashes, aren’t a good idea. Same for any formulas that are clumpy – you don’t want anything clumpy near your eyes that might get stuck under a lens. Stick with the regular lengthening and volumizing formulas and only use waterproof mascara when you really need it – rather than as part of a regular makeup routine. Waterproof formulas can be very drying, which can make lashes more susceptible to breakage. And never put anything – water, oil, solution – into a mascara tube to try to thin it out or make it last longer. That is just contaminating the product and rendering it unsafe for your eyes. Treat yourself and buy a new tube.
False eyelashes and eyelash extensions are very much on trend, but the present a real challenge to contact lens wearers. The glue used to apply false lashes and extensions can be irritating. Plus, having longer than natural lashes messes with your blinking action – which is important for preventing dry eye symptoms.
Finally, let’s talk about eyeliner. While tight-lining seems to be the norm in application these days, it is important for contact lens wearers to keep the space between the lashes and the eye clean. The small glands located there have the important job of helping to keep the eye lubricated. A well-lubricated eye is a comfortable, healthy eye. Instead, rely on your mascara and a nice winged eyeliner to play up your eyes rather than gunking up your lash line.
Tip #7 What to look for on the ingredient list
Most cosmetic manufacturers use some form of preservative in their product to keep it fresh and shelf-stable for as long as possible. Unfortunately, some of the preservatives used can pose a risk to the eye and the tissue around it. So, take the time to read the ingredient list of any product your plan to buy. Avoid formaldehydes, parabens and benzalkonium chloride (BAK). BAK is known to be toxic to the cells on the surface of the eye, which is particularly risky for contact lens wearers. It goes by several names including quaternium-15 and guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride.
Tip #8 Remove your contacts before taking off your makeup
Eye makeup removers and tap water are not sterile solutions. So, wash and dry your hands and take out your contacts. Then go about removing your makeup. Tap water is safe to drink and wash with, but it can contain dangerous bacteria that can contaminate contacts. Do a thorough job of cleansing your eyelids and lashes, but take care not to get products into the eye. If the eye does become irritated from cleansers, don’t compound the problem by putting a contact on top of it. Wear your glasses and, if necessary, contact your eye doctor for advice.
The most important tip for beautiful eyes is to stay on top of your eye health by regularly seeing your eye doctor. Everyone, regardless of vision correction needs, should have an annual eye exam. For those with a vision prescription, talking with your eye doctor about your vision correction options on a regular basis, based upon your eyes, vision and lifestyle, is important as well. As discussed here, contacts are a great option, but for makeup fans, there are some significant challenges. Today, laser vision correction procedures like LASIK offer safe and effective ways for those who are good candidates to achieve terrific vision. Find out if you are a good candidate for LASIK and continue to put your best face forward without relying on glasses and contacts.
And if you are looking for some inspiration, here are a few of our favorite beauty bloggers to add to your collection: