Does Mascara Cause Dry Eyes?

Does Mascara Cause Dry Eyes?

Does Mascara Cause Dry Eyes?

Does Mascara Cause Dry Eyes?

Does Mascara Cause Dry Eyes?

June 7, 2023

Dry eye can significantly impact the quality of your life due to the discomfort that it causes. It develops due to the inability of your tears to lubricate your ocular surface sufficiently. The condition usually occurs in two primary forms—evaporative dry eyes and insufficient tears.

Additionally, external factors unrelated to these two can aggravate or cause it to develop. One of these is your makeup, specifically mascara. Knowing how the tear film works can help you understand how such a thing as mascara can affect dry eyes.

The Tear Film


The tear film covers your eye surface, nourishes the different structures, and helps provide clear vision. Its three main layers work together, each with a unique purpose.  

Inner Mucin Layer


The lowermost layer of the tear film is made of mucus or mucin produced by the conjunctival goblet cells. The primary role of this layer is to help spread out the other layers evenly across the eye’s surface. It also helps stabilize the tear film and provides antiadhesive properties between the eye surface and conjunctiva. 

Aqueous Layer


The middle layer of the tear film is the most abundant, the source of the volume of the tears. It is the aqueous or watery layer produced by the lacrimal glands. It is responsible for your tears when you cry, nourishes the cornea and ocular surface. Insufficient tears and dry eyes are effects of limited production of the aqueous layer, called aqueous deficiency.  

Outer Lipid Layer


The outer layer of the tear film is the lipid layer, made up of a unique oil called the meibum. It protects the two lower layers from evaporation and is produced by the meibomian glands. The lack of this layer leads to evaporative dry eye, the most common form of the condition. 

How Can Mascara Cause Dry Eye?


Dry eye usually occurs due to issues with the tear film; other factors only aggravate the condition. You could have the condition in its mild form, but then it can be triggered making the condition worse.

Makeup is one of the things that can make dry eye worse. It is applied so closely to the eye; it can aggravate dry eye. Particulates from makeup or mascara can crumble and fall onto the surface of the eye, mixing with tear film reducing its ability to lubricate properly.  Also, harsh chemicals are frequently added to makeup, including alcohol which produces a drying effect, in turn, throwing off the delicate balance of tear film layers.

What Should You Do?


Decrease your risk of increasing dry eye symptoms by being selective about your makeup products and mascara. Look carefully for:

  • Eye-friendly mascara brands specifically designed for sensitive eyes. 

  • Thickening mascara - it does not flake after drying. 

  • An eyelash curler in place of mascara. 

Don’t forget to toss old mascara because it crumbles after drying up. To learn more about the impact of mascara on dry eyes, call East Main Vision Clinic in Puyallup, Washington at (253) 780-0700​​​​​​​ today.


East Main Vision Clinic