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Mascara and The Eyes


Eye cosmetics, especially mascara, are commonly used to enhance perceived attractiveness and beauty; however, the eye lashes themselves serve a much greater purpose than just accentuating ones’ ‘good looks’! They act as a filter for the eyes, and one of their primary functions is to protect the eyes from small particles; such as dust, debris or sand.


Cosmetic products can be a breeding ground for bacteria; and poor makeup hygiene practices can be problematic to the eyes. Although most eye irritation caused by makeup is temporary and not critical. If makeup is not used appropriately, it can lead to several eye problems; such as redness, irritation, blurry vision, allergic reactions and even bacterial infections such as styes, or conjunctivitis.


Eye makeup, especially mascara, can provide a moist environment for infection-causing bacteria to grow rapidly. It is advisable to store liquid eye products in a cool dry place, in sanitary conditions.


Cosmetics should be disposed and replaced according to manufacturer recommendations, which is usually after three months of use for eyeliner and mascara. It is recommended to check the expiration date of your makeup products and take a note of it.


After eye procedures, such as laser eye surgery or any other vision corrective procedures, most ophthalmologists and optometrists recommended to avoid eye makeup for the first few weeks and up to 1 month for waterproof eye products as its harder to remove.


Meibomian glands produce the outermost oily layer of the tear film. They help to secrete oil to keep your eyes lubricated. Makeup can block these oil glands, causing the tear film to evaporate too quickly. This can lead to further issues and irritation or conditions like dry eye disease. Dry eye disease is one of the most commonly encountered ophthalmic conditions in clinical practice, and is recognised to have significant effects on vision, ocular comfort, and quality of life. Makeup particles may also migrate into the tear film, causing inflammation or eye conditions, such as blepharitis.


Author: Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades’ experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries.


Please call 0800 197 8808 for friendly advice and information.