Skip to main content

Keep an Eye on Your Makeup Routine

Dec 07, 2015

Eyelids and eyelashes may be the perfect canvases for lavish makeup, especially with all the sparkle of holiday parties coming up. But did you know that their real function is protection? Together, they help lubricate your eyes and keep foreign particles out—as much as possible. But the fact is, eye makeup can migrate into your eyes, and (ugh) dead skin cells and bacteria can gather on your eyelids and lashes and wreak havoc with eye health. Think pink eye, infections, sties and herpes, for example. Not pretty.

Moran Eye Center ophthalmologist, Alison Crum, MD, shares some practical advice:

Eyelashes naturally have bacteria on them. As soon as you use a makeup brush on the eyelashes or eyelids, the brush is contaminated. Over time, the contaminated brush leads to a buildup of bacteria in the cosmetics container. This multiplies the chance for an eye infection or an allergic reaction every time you use the product.

What to Do?

Keep your brushes and eyelash curler clean. Deep clean with mild soap, thoroughly rinse and air dry every week. It's also a good idea to do a quick spot-clean with rubbing alcohol every day.

Never, ever share makeup—that's a quick route to spreading bacteria.

Replace eye makeup every three months. If you do get an eye infection, be sure to replace all the makeup you were using—even if it's new.

Sharpen your eyeliner pencil to keep it more precise and to remove any buildup on the pencil tip.

Don't spit into eye cosmetics. The bacteria in your mouth can grow in the cosmetic and cause an infection later on.

Store makeup in a dry place at room temperature—not in a steamy bathroom or a hot car, as extreme temperatures can break down preservatives in makeup (preservatives intended to prevent bacterial growth).

Never apply makeup in a moving vehicle. Obviously. (You can scratch your cornea, or worse.)

Finally, take it all off. Every night, no matter what, remove your eye makeup. Dr. Crum recommends then cleaning eyelashes and lids with eyelid "scrubs," found at most drugstores. Eyelid scrubs help assure that you are getting rid of debris, oils, build-up of tissue/oils around the lashes and bacteria around the eyelids.

So go ahead and do the retro cat-eye look or play with some shimmery eyeshadows. Just keep it clean.

Read more on why you should replace your mascara.

Also, are eyelash extensions safe?