Your Eyes and Cosmetics

Your Eyes and Cosmetics

Your Eyes and Cosmetics

Your Eyes and Cosmetics

Your Eyes and Cosmetics

March 8, 2021

Let us start this off with one simple question, do you read the ingredient label when choosing a cosmetic? If you answered no, just know you are not alone! Studies show that 71% of us do not read ingredient labels when it comes to cosmetics. Why is this important you ask? Well continue reading and we will tell you why!


First and foremost:  

Preservatives are used in makeup to prevent bacterial growth and fungal contamination, but they are harmful to the eyes. Now since there must be preservatives unless it is single-use makeup, it is all about getting healthy preservative options. Formaldehyde-donating preservatives like parabens and phenoxyethanol are the most common and do extensive damage to our meibomian glands while also being toxic to the ocular surface and adnexal cells.

Some other ingredients in cosmetics that can cause irritation and allergies are metals, bulking agents, emulsifiers, resins, and even pigments – pink, purple and blue pigments are more likely to cause irritations. Cosmetics can obstruct the meibomian gland orifices, limit meibum delivery to the lid margin and subsequent delivery onto the tear film, desiccate the tear film, and increase inflammation. Retinol is a well-known cosmetic ingredient, but it is also among the top 10 ocular surface offending ingredients.


Now let us talk about eye makeup specifically: 

Placement matters! A common makeup technique is water lining/tight lining, if you are unfamiliar with this technique it is where you apply eyeliner inside the lash margin along the waterline, this can be very damaging to our meibomian glands. Did you know there is no difference in regulations between children’s and adult cosmetics and in 2019 asbestos was found in children’s makeup? The more colorful the more offensive the makeup is to the ocular surface. Colorful makeup can disrupt hormones, contaminate tear film, irritate the cornea and conjunctive, stress the ocular surface, cause meibomian gland dysfunction and contribute to gland loss, and create tear film instability which can cause or exacerbate dry eye disease.

Waterproof eye makeup can also contribute to gland dysfunction and loss. Eye makeup removers can also have major irritants as well. It does not matter if the remover is oil based, oil free, or micellar – it can migrate under the eyelid even on closed eyes for up to 5 minutes which can disrupt the tear film and ocular surface. We do not recommend using coconut oil as a make-up remover as it can block our meibomian glands. Remember: anything you put around your eye will get into your eye.


To conclude, here are some tips and things to remember:


  • Keep it clean, always remove makeup nightly and clean your brushes/applicators regularly.

  • Replace eye makeup every 3 months.

  • Avoid tight lining/water lining technique.

  • Tap makeup applicators/brushes over the sink before application to avoid loose particles.

  • Choose products with safer ingredients, you can use the following websites/apps to check ingredients:, Think Dirty Makeup App, Ingredio Beta App, Ingred App.

  • Some eye safe makeup brands are: 100% Pure, BeautyCounter, Eyes Are the Story (my personal favorite), Heka Clean, Lily Lolo, Omiana and We Love Eyes (which we sell here in the office!)                                                                                                                                                                     

    To learn more about the effects of cosmetics on your eyes, contact East Main Vision Clinic in Puyallup, WA at 253-780-0700 to book an appointment. 

East Main Vision Clinic