Keep Your Eyes Healthy with These Eye Makeup Dos and Don’ts

Keep Your Eyes Healthy with These Eye Makeup Dos and Don’ts

Whether glamming it up for a holiday party, or just tackling your everyday makeup routine, there’s no denying that eye makeup—including your favourite mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow—can add a little oomph to your look. While it can be fun to play with your look through makeup, doing so in the wrong way can also cause harm, so follow these eye makeup tips to keep your eyes safe, healthy, and infection-free.

1. DON’T use expired eye makeup

Makeup can be pricey, so the desire to stretch out the life of a mascara or liquid eyeliner makes sense. However, doing so can be an unsafe—and unsanitary—decision. Want to know the shelf life of a given product? Look near the ingredients list, where you’ll find either a batch number and expiry date, or an icon that looks like an open jar. On that icon, you’ll find a number followed by an “M” (for month) or a “Y” (meaning year). This indicates the company’s recommendation for how long you can continue to use a product after you’ve broken the seal. For example, a “6M” means that once you’ve opened the product, you should throw it away after six months.

2. DON’T use dried-out mascara after three months

According to a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, over 85% of women who wear mascara admit to using theirs well past its expiry date.

We already know that using expired makeup is not a good idea, and after just three months, a mascara tube becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. The same study revealed that 79% of samples of mascara tubes contained bacteria like staph infections, which can ultimately pose real harm to your eyes. To avoid catching an infection, follow these tips:

  • Replace your mascara every three to four months, or at least when you start to notice the product clumping on the wand. If it starts to have a strong smell, that’s also telling that it’s time to throw it out.
  • Don’t share your mascara with anyone (more on that below).
  • Replace an old tube of mascara with a new one after you’ve had any kind of eye infection.
  • If you find it hard to use a full tube of mascara in a three-month period, buy a mini-tube instead.

If you’re thinking about ditching the mascara altogether and getting eyelash extensions, make sure to read our interview with eyelash technician and expert Laura Shortt so you know what to look for.

3. DO take a break from wearing makeup after you’ve had LASIK

After having laser eye surgery or any type of vision correction procedure, most optometrists and eye surgeons recommend avoiding makeup for at least a few days. We’ve compiled a handy post-LASIK activity schedule which will tell you what a reasonable amount of time is to wait until you can apply eye makeup after you’ve had your procedure.

4. DON’T share your eye makeup (ever)

You know the drill. You’ve left your eyeliner at home and you feel absolutely bare without it. Don’t feel tempted to ask your colleague or friend to borrow theirs. Germs live and breed on your makeup: mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, and brushes. These germs are highly contagious and can be easily spread by sharing makeup or brushes.

5. DO clean your makeup brushes (often)

Cleaning your makeup brushes often (especially those that come into close contact with your eyes), helps wash away germs. Most makeup stores and pharmacies sell mild soaps designed to clean the bristles of your brushes.

Assortment of makeup brushes lying down on a table.


6. DON’T apply makeup while driving

This scenario may be familiar to you; adjusting the rear-view mirror so you can see your eyes as you apply makeup, making it harder to see the traffic around you. Aside from the obvious risks that come with distracted driving, applying makeup while you drive can also seriously harm your eyes.

If you’re in the middle of applying eye makeup and you need to stop abruptly, you risk, poking your eye with an eyeliner pencil, mascara wand, or other tool which can cause serious injury to your cornea (this is known as a corneal abrasion); applying makeup while in the passenger seat does not make you immune to this risk either. The safest thing you can do is to either make extra time to apply your makeup before you leave the house or do it once you arrive at your destination – in a parked car or bathroom.

Woman applying lip gloss in the car while looking in rearview mirror.


7. DON’T apply makeup to your waterline

Although it’s trendy to line the “waterline”—the inside part of your eyelids—with an eye pencil, this sensitive area that directly touches the cornea can put you at risk for contaminating your eyes. What’s more, particles from the eyeliner itself may flake off and travel into the tear film, especially if the eyeliner contains glitter.

8. DO wash your hands before applying makeup

Washing your hands frequently throughout the day keeps them clean and germ-free— a simple task that is good for overall health, and eye health. This is especially important during cold and flu seasons and before applying makeup, to avoid the spread of germs.

9. DO store your makeup properly

Keep oxygen out of your makeup containers, and store them in a cool, dry place for optimal shelf life. Always ensure that lids of jars are closed tightly because exposure to air can attract contaminants like dust. Bacteria grows particularly well in moist settings, so pay close attention to makeup products with cream or gel bases.

10. DO wash off your eye makeup before bed

All anyone wants to do after a night out is crawl into bed—even with a full face of makeup on. But makeup removal is an important step in your beauty routine and should never be skipped. The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends using fragrance-free cleaners to wash your face. This little step keeps bacteria from accumulating deep in your pores, causing skin conditions like acne or eye infections.

Closeup of woman holding makeup blotting sheet to her cheek.


11. DO take extra care if you wear contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses then you’re already even more susceptible to infection as it is. With contact lenses, makeup can travel from your eyelid onto your lash line and then into the actual eye. Makeup that has been infected with bacteria can then latch on to the contact lens itself. What’s more, when removing the lens, you might scratch your eye with residual makeup or it can linger in the eye, causing an infection.

Getting LASIK is a great way to avoid build-up on contact lenses. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to get dolled-up without having to wear glasses that cover up your glittery eye shadow.