For many women, putting on makeup in the morning is just another step in the process of getting ready for the day – a little (or a lot) of mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, maybe colored contacts, and maybe even false lashes if you have a big event for that day. And even though going through this routine helps to enhance your natural eyes and create a beautiful look, some makeup practices, and the makeup itself, can be damaging to your eyes.

What to Know About Makeup and Eye Health

Three of the most harmful cosmetics that are used in or around the eyes are eyeliner, mascara, false lashes, and eyelash extensions. We’ll take a close look at why they can be harmful to your eyes and what you can do to be safe while applying them. If you have an allergic reaction to the makeup you’re using, visit our Alexandria eye doctor as soon as possible. Dr. Sina Sabet and his team will ensure quick treatment to reduce any pain and discomfort as quickly as possible.


We’ll start by talking about mascara, which is made of oils and waxes to add length and color to eyelashes. Ingredients in mascara include chemical compounds like iron oxide and titanium dioxide which are used to prevent clumping and smudging, or more natural ingredients like eucalyptus oil and beeswax. Mascara is generally safe unless there is an allergic reaction to the ingredients, or there is an accident while applying it, such as blinking or the wand actually touching the eye.

When it comes to applying mascara, it’s important to do it gently, in slow, even swipes across the lashes. Be careful to not come too close to the roots of the lashes.


One of the most highly used cosmetics, eyeliner adds definition to the eye’s shape and gives it a bold look. Eyeliners are typically made with film formers, thickening agents, and pigments, but there are a variety of types of eyeliner, including liquids, that are made with different ingredients. Because eyeliner is applied much closer to the actual eye, and sometimes long the waterline, there is a higher risk of having an accident or of plugging up the lacrimal gland.

What is the Lacrimal Gland, or Waterline?

You may have heard the term waterline, which the portion of skin just below the lashes on the upper lid and just above the lashes on the lower lid. The medical term for this area is the lacrimal gland and is where tears are produced. The waterline is an area where eyeliner is commonly applied because it adds depth to the eye. But however good it looks, makeup should never be applied to this area.

Dr. Alison Ng from the Center for Contact Lens Research at Waterloo conducted a study that looked at how many eyeliner particles landed on the tear film (the outer layer of the eye) after eyeliner was applied to this area rather than above the lash line. Dr Ng and her team found that between 15 and 30 percent more particles landed on the tear film when applied to the waterline. These particles can affect the film, resulting in discomfort and sensitivity, especially for those who wear contact lenses.

If applying eyeliner is a part of your morning routine, be sure to only apply it above the lash line on the top lid or below the lash line on the bottom lid. This will ensure that your eyes remain moist throughout the day.

False Eyelashes and Lash Extensions

The biggest problem with false lashes is with the adhesive, or glue that is used to adhere the false lashes to your natural lashes. Not only can the user experience an allergic reaction to the glue, but they can also impact the health of the natural lashes, causing damage to the roots, potentially resulting in them falling out. If false lashes are worn for an extended period of time, there is also an increased risk of infection, as they are prone to germs. Even when used correctly, both false eyelashes and extensions can cause allergic reactions, irritations and infections, injury to the eye, damage to the hair follicle, and a thinning of the natural lashes.

Colored Contacts

The unfortunate part about colored contact lenses is that many people wear them without needing corrective eyewear, but simply for aesthetic purposes. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you need a prescription in order to wear them. If you are interested in getting colored contacts, visit your local eye doctor to ensure they are a correct fit for the shape of your eye. When contacts aren’t fitted properly, it can cause infections, inflammation, trauma, and it can even cause damage to the cornea and eyelids.

Tips to Safely Put on Makeup From Dr. Sina J. Sabet in Alexandria

  • Don’t mix and match: Use eyeliner only on your eyes and not as lip liner to avoid introducing bacteria from your mouth or lips to your eyes.
  • Throw it away: Makeup shouldn’t be used after three months, this includes eyeliners, mascaras, as well as eye shadows. This will reduce the risk of infection.
  • Never share makeup: Bacteria on a mascara wand can be spread to another person when sharing makeup.
  • Retail samples: When getting a sample of makeup, ask that they use a product that hasn’t been used before. They often only use sample applicators, which may still spread bacteria if it’s already in the bottle.
  • If there is an infection: Throw out any makeup that you were using at the same and start over with fresh products. If the infection continues, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor for a thorough eye exam.
  • One product at a time: If you have sensitive skin or eyes, introduce only one product at a time. This will make it easier to eliminate the problem makeup if an infection were to occur.
  • Remove makeup at night: Give your eyes and the surrounding tissue time to breathe. Use a clean cotton swab to move all makeup, including eyeliner, mascara, and shadow.

Makeup is a girl’s best friend – but be sure to keep your eyes safe when applying it. If any infections occur, visit the ophthalmologist Dr. Sina J. Sabet in Alexandria today.