Most eye makeup is relatively safe when used properly. However, under certain circumstances, makeup can lead to infection or injury of the eye. In rare cases, women have been temporarily or permanently blinded by an infection resulting from the use of eye makeup.

The following tips can help prevent eye infections as well as injuries, such as corneal abrasion.

Some of these tips may seem obvious, but it can be easy to fall into bad habits such as forgetting to remove your makeup before bed or using products that are well past their prime.

Follow these tips to keep your eyes safe without having to sacrifice your style.

Take Care of Your Cosmetics

Keep them clean

The best way to prevent an eye infection from makeup is to keep your products and applicators clean. You should always keep your eye makeup tightly sealed between uses and be sure to sanitize your makeup brushes on a regular basis.

It is equally important to make sure you wash your hands before applying makeup to prevent the bacteria on your hands from entering your eyes.

Keep them cool

You should never store your cosmetics at temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When left in hot conditions for too long, the makeup becomes more susceptible to deterioration of the preservative intended to protect against microbial growth. In other words, if you have left your makeup in a hot car for an extended period of time, you should toss it. Additionally, a cabinet near a steamy shower might not be the best place to store your makeup either.

Keep them fresh

You should replace your eye makeup every three months. When you purchase new makeup, take a sharpie and write the date on the container. If your mascara happens to dry up before that three-month window is up, purchase new mascara.

Do not attempt to use saliva or water to moisten your dried-out mascara. When you add saliva, the bacteria from your mouth can grow in the mascara and lead to infection. When you add water, in addition to potentially introducing bacteria into the mascara, you also dilute the preservative intended to protect against microbial growth.

Don’t Share Eye Makeup

While sharing is usually the nice thing to do, when it comes to eye makeup, it’s best to keep it to yourself. Sharing eye makeup is a health hazard no matter how close you are with the other person.  Another person’s germs can be harmful to your health and your germs can be harmful to theirs.

The risk of contamination may be even greater with “testers” at retail stores, where numerous people are using the same sample product. Ideally, you should avoid using these testers altogether, but if you feel you must sample cosmetics at a store, be sure to apply them with a clean, single-use applicator, such as clean cotton swabs.

Be Aware of Unsafe Color Additives

Ensure color additives are FDA approved for the area around the eye

The color additives in cosmetics are strictly regulated in the United States. It’s important to note that a number color additives approved for cosmetic use in general are not approved for use in the area surrounding the eye. This is one of several reasons you should never use non-eye cosmetics in the area around your eye (i.e. use lip liner as eyeliner).

Stay away from permanent eyelash and eyebrow dyes

There are no color additives approved by the FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes or eyebrows. Furthermore, permanent eyelash and eyebrow dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries, including blindness.

Don’t Apply Makeup On The Go

It may be tempting to save some time by applying your makeup in the car or on a bus on the way to work. However, even if you’re not the one driving, you should never apply makeup while in a moving vehicle. If the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, goes over a bump, or hits another vehicle, you could easily injure your eye. Even a small scratch on the eye can lead to a serious infection.

Stay Away from Glitter to Avoid Dry Eyes

If you tend to have dry eyes, stay away from glittery/flaky makeup. The flakes can get into your tear film and increase your eyes’ irritation. Glitter eye makeup is a common cause of corneal irritation and infection, especially among individuals who wear contact lenses.

Remove Your Makeup Before Bed

While it may be tempting on late nights to skip this step, you should always remove eye makeup before bed, especially mascara which can stick to your eyelashes. You should brush a clean cotton swab along the base of your lashes to remove all makeup remnants. If you use eye makeup remover, avoid getting it in your eyes and be sure to rinse the remover from your eyelids.

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