How Safe is your Eye Makeup Routine?


Eye make-up and cosmetics can enhance your appearance. Adding a little mascara, eye liner and eye shadow is easy and fun. However, this cosmetic enhancement may end up being harmful to eyes if applied carelessly. Issues can range from allergic reactions, to eye infections, to serious injuries. Though extreme, the most serious eye issues caused by make-up application could involve injury to the cornea, which is the front part of the eye’s surface.

Dr. Mirwat Sami is a Houston area Board Certified Oculoplastic Surgeon and explains that, “Corneal injuries usually cause pain and always necessitate quick medical attention. Other eye make-up application issues can be caused by bacteria growing inside the cosmetic containers or on the surface of make-up applicators. If precautions are not taken when applying make-up, bacteria can be transferred directly to your eyes.” Dr. Sami offers tips on how to look good without compromising eye health.

  1. Keep eyeliner pencils sharpened so that the rough wood casing won’t scratch the eye or eyelid. As the pencil becomes old, the liner tip becomes stiff, requiring more pressure to apply. When this happens, replace the pencil with a new one.
  2. Don’t mix and match cosmetics. Use what’s intended for your eyes on your eyes only. Sometimes we use the one specific product on different parts of our face, so don’t use the same pencil for both lips and eyes, or your lipstick as your eye shadow, as that can introduce bacteria.
  3. Throw away eye makeup after three months. Infection-causing bacteria grow easily in creamy or liquid eye makeup. If you develop an eye infection, immediately toss all of your eye makeup.
  4. Never share eye makeup, and 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.)
  5. If you tend to be allergic, introduce only one new eye makeup or care product at a time. If there is no reaction, add another new product, and so on. If you notice an allergic reaction, find out what the ingredients are and let your doctor know. Avoid products that contain untested or harmful chemicals.
  6. 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.
  7. Never use saliva to thin old or clumped makeup or to wet a mascara wand. Your saliva contains bacteria from your mouth.
  8. Do not separate your mascara-clumped lashes with sharp items.
  9. If you tend to have dry eyes, avoid metallic/glitter, powder or other makeup that flakes. Flakes can get into the tear film and increase your eyes’ irritation. Glitter eye makeup is a common cause of corneal irritation or infection, especially in contact lens users.
  10. Remove all eye makeup at night before sleeping, especially mascara that can stick to the lashes. Brush a clean cotton swab along the base of the eyelashes to remove all makeup remnants. If you use eye makeup remover, avoid getting it in your eyes and thoroughly rinse remover off your eyelids.
  11. If you have eye surgery, do not wear makeup around the eye until your ophthalmologist tells you it is safe to do so, and then use only fresh, new makeup.
  12. When at a store cosmetics counter, be sure the cosmetics demonstrator uses fresh applicators and does not let a used sample product come into direct contact with you.
  13. If you use an eyelash curler, make sure the rubber is soft, not stiff and cracking.
  14. Always use the curler before applying mascara. Persons allergic to nickel should not use an eyelash curler, as the metal frame contains nickle.


Dr. Mirwat Sami is one of a handful of physicians across the country uniquely qualified to treat both medical and cosmetic problems of the face around the eyes. Her specialized training in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery help Dr. Sami provide her patients with unique and individualized treatment for their facial concerns.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.