• How To Use Cosmetics Safely Around Your Eyes

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    Reviewed By: Rebecca J Taylor, MD
    May. 03, 2019

    Makeup and cosmetic treatments can be safely used around the eyes if you follow a few basic safety tips. If you have any questions about your cosmetic routine or whether having any particular eye conditions means you should change your habits, talk to your doctor.

    Be gentle with your eyelashes and the area around your eyes. The skin around your eyes is more delicate and sensitive than some other parts of the face. Eyelashes are important for keeping dust and dirt out of your eyes. They also keep your eyes from drying out by blocking air movement over your tear film.

    Eye Makeup Safety

    • Only use cosmetics that are designed for use around the eyes. Avoid products that contain untested or harsh chemicals.
    • Throw away eye makeup after three months and get new products. Infection-causing bacteria grow easily in creamy or liquid eye makeup.
    • If you develop an eye infection, like pink eye, immediately toss all of your eye makeup and don't use eye makeup until the infection is gone.
    • Never share eye makeup, even with family or close friends.
    • When sampling makeup in stores use only fresh applicators and samples that have not been contaminated by multiple users. The safest choice is to avoid store samples altogether.
    • Introduce only one new eye makeup or care product at a time, especially if you tend to have allergic reactions easily. Don't add another new product until you know you're not reacting to the first one.
    • If you notice an allergic reaction to makeup:
      • Find out what the ingredients are so you can watch out for them in other products.
      • Let your doctor know. Your doctor may know about products that are prone to causing reactions, and about gentler alternatives.
    • Before applying makeup, be sure your face and eyelids are very clean.
    • Always apply makeup outside the lash line, away from the eye, to avoid blocking the oil glands of the upper or lower eyelid. These glands secrete oil that protects the eye’s surface.
    • Never apply makeup while in a moving vehicle.
    • If your lashes are clumped together by mascara or another product, do not use anything sharp to separate the lashes. You can easily poke or scratch your eye this way.
    • Remove all eye makeup at night before sleeping, especially mascara that can stick to the lashes.
    • If you've recently had eye surgery, do not wear makeup around the eye until your ophthalmologist tells you it is safe to do so. When you start wearing makeup again, get fresh, new makeup to avoid any possible infections.

    A few kinds of cosmetic treatments or products raise special concerns and require extra caution:

    Glitter Eye Makeup Safety

    Be careful with metallic, glitter, sparkle powder or other makeup can flake off. Flakes can fall into the eye, get into the tear film and irritate your eyes. Glitter eye makeup is a common cause of corneal irritation or infection, especially for people who wear contact lenses. Larger glitter or inclusions in makeup can scratch the eye, much like getting sand or dirt in your eye.

    Eyelash Extensions and Eyelash Styling

    Eyelash extensions can be done safely, if applied by a professional. There's enough to consider with eyelash extensions that we produced a whole article about how to get eyelash extensions safely.

    If you're curling or styling your eyelashes with heat, be careful not to burn yourself or damage your eyelashes.


    Latisse is a prescription eyelash enhancer. It's applied to the lash line to promote the growth of longer, thicker eyelashes. There are some possible side-effects to watch out for, which is why it's only available by prescription.

    How to Remove Makeup From Around the Eyes

    • Vaseline is a very effective makeup remover. It's lubricating, soothing to skin and helps makeup slide off without unnecessary tugging and pulling.
    • Baby shampoo is an inexpensive and ophthalmologist-recommended product for washing eyelids and the area around the eyes. These 'tear-free' soaps are often recommended to people prone to styles, chalazia and blepharitis for washing their eyes.
    • Whatever eye makeup remover you use, avoid getting it in your eyes.
    • Thoroughly rinse any remover off your eyelids.
    • Brush a clean cotton swab along the base of the eyelashes to remove all makeup remnants.
    • Be especially careful with exfoliating scrubs and don't use them around your eyes. Cleansers with scrubbing beads or gritty additions can scratch and irritate your eyes.