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Eye makeup 911


September 2012

It’s a morning ritual for many women: standing in front of the mirror applying your eye makeup. But when is the last time you replenished your supplies? You may think your eye makeup is your friend, but it can turn into your foe without proper care. Dr. Daniel Ferguson, a corneal specialist and partner at Eye Care Specialists, and Jhousy Leon, owner of Blush Beauty, shared their expertise on when eye makeup can be harmful and what you should look for the next time you are at the makeup counter.

M: What types of precautions should women take when it comes to using eye makeup?

DF: "Eye makeup-related dangers can often be avoided by following simple common sense precautions. One analogy I like to use is that you most likely wouldn’t want to shake someone’s hand after watching them sneeze into it, so why would you want to take their mascara wand and wipe the same bacteria around your eye?

M: Are there certain types of ingredients in eye makeup that people should avoid?

JL: "Most eye makeup products contain ingredients like dimethicone and propylene glycol, which may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions on a person-to-person basis. Every individual is different."

M: What types of eye problems can arise as the result of using eye makeup, and what are the warning signs?

DF: "The most common problems arising from eye makeup include allergic reactions, viral or bacterial conjunctivitis and corneal abrasions. These problems can all have similar symptoms, such as pink or redness of the whites of the eyes and an increase in tear production (in the body’s attempt to soothe the eyes). Allergic reactions will also often include irritation and itchiness. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis (commonly called "pink eye") is a swelling or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids. Conjunctivitis may have a yellow or green discharge and can cause the eyelids to stick together or ooze. Infections and abrasions of the cornea are a serious concern, often marked by pain and sensitivity to light. If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your eye care specialist to determine a specific course of treatment."

M: What type of eye makeup should people purchase?

JL: "As it goes for anything you put into your body, the more natural and the more protective factors included, the better. Most of our brands, if not all of them, are hypoallergenic or organic. I would look for eye makeup that is mineral based or powder based, otherwise specifically hypoallergenic."


M: How often should people get rid of their eye makeup and purchase new makeup?

JL: "Experts suggest makeup should be disposed of every six months to one year. However, I strongly disagree. I believe makeup should change every three to four months. A warm, moist climate breeds bacteria; therefore, our air is contributing a lot of it regardless of where your makeup might be stored. This is especially important for mascara, as studies show each time the wand reaches the air, it is exposed to an abundance of material that is then stored in the container — which is why mascara is the first to spoil. It is also vital the tools used to apply your makeup are thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. However, if you were to have any type of eye infection, all your eye makeup needs to be thrown away and all new makeup purchased before applying post-infection."

Happy Eyes

Dr. Daniel Ferguson of Eye Care Specialists offers the following safe storage, use and replacement tips for eye makeup:

• Always wash your hands prior to applying makeup.

• If you do try makeup at a store or salon, insist the person applying it uses newly opened products or disposable applicators. Consider using disposable applicators at home, as well.

• Never drive and put on makeup. Not only does this make driving a danger, hitting a bump in the road and scratching your eyeball can cause serious eye injury.

• Don’t sleep in your makeup. You are creating an environment that invites infection.

• Keep makeup containers closed tight when not in use.

• Keep makeup out of the sun and heat (especially hot cars). Bright hot conditions can degrade the preservatives used to fight bacteria.

• If you do carry makeup in a purse, consider placing it in Ziplock storage bags that offer a clean environment that can be frequently replaced.

• Never add liquid to a product (to extend its use or change its consistency), unless the label tells you to do so. This can introduce germs that can grow out of control.

• Throw away any makeup if the color changes or it starts to smell. This might be due to degradation of preservatives, making it unable to fight bacteria.

• Stop using any product that causes an allergic reaction or eye infection, such as "pink eye." Throw away any makeup you were using when you first found the problem.

• If you are having eye surgery, follow your doctor’s instructions for not wearing eye makeup before and/or after your operation. Discard partially used makeup to avoid bacterial contamination.

• Prior to use, clean pencil eyeliners and sharpeners by removing any residue and then wiping them down or placing them in a small paper cup filled with rubbing alcohol. Allow the pencil to dry before using on skin. When sharpening the pencil, make sure you have smooth edges so wood pieces do not scratch your skinor eye.

• Avoid placing eye liner inside the lash line. It is best to apply along the outer edge of your lashes, away from the mucous membrane.

• Never share eye makeup with anyone. Another person’s bacteria can be hazardous to you.



This story ran in the September 2012 issue of: