In the Eye of the Beholder: 5 Eye Makeup Safety Tips

  • BY Lainie Petersen

Women have been using eye cosmetics for generations and for good reason: A pretty pair of eyes has been known to sweep many a suitor off his (or her) feet. The flip-side of this is that  makeup is notorious for causing irritation and infection and there are few things more unattractive than peepers that are red, swollen and oozing green muck.


If you are going to prettify your peepers, put a little thought into the makeup you use and how you use it:


1. Pore Over Packaging

Your eyes are sensitive organs: Easy to irritate and easy to damage. Contaminants in eye makeup, such as bacteria or foreign substances cause a world of pain. Use your common sense when shopping and make sure a product’s packaging is intact and sealed.

(If there is a “sell-by” date on the package read it, abide by it.)

Tip: Be extra cautious while shopping in the “bargain bins” at drug stores and boutiques, as some of the makeup in there can be pretty old, even if well-sealed and in its original packaging. Also, check out the FDA’s Import Alert of contaminated cosmetics.


2. Be Selfish

Never, never share makeup with a friend. No matter how much she begs. No matter how long she pleads.

(Don’t share even if there the cutest guy in the world is at the bar and she really needs an extra coat of mascara.)

Sharing makeup is just asking for trouble. It’s how infections get spread. Don’t do it.

Tip: If you are the “need to be needed” sort, keep a package of unused, trial-size cosmetics in your purse so that you can dole them out to grateful friends and strangers in the ladies’ room. Just keep your own stuff for yourself.


3. Don’t Be a Hoarder

If you love a mascara, set it free after four months.


(You can always buy another.)

Eye makeup doesn’t improve with age, so don’t stockpile or hang onto a product for months or years. Mascara and eyeliner should be dumped 4-6 months after opening. Toss other cosmetics after a year.

Tip: If you hate the idea of tossing a beloved shade because it’s no longer being manufactured, don’t fret. There are companies that will custom blend shades for you. Just send ’em a sample of what you already have and they’ll match it.


4. Get a Clean Slate

Got an eye infection? Lucky you. Now you get to go shopping for all new eye makeup!

(Yep, that’s ALL new. No time for getting sentimental.)

Never, ever keep eye makeup around after an eye infection. It all needs to head for the trash. If you use it again, you risk reinfecting yourself.

Tip: Shop wisely if you are on a modest budget. Department store brands often feature “gift with purchase” offers that may include generous samples of shadow, liner, mascara, and eye makeup remover. For the price of one or two items, you’ll end up with a nice “starter wardrobe” of eye makeup.


5. Block Those Rays

Don’t forget the importance of protection against UV rays when choosing your eye makeup. Some makeup (such as mineral eye shadow) provides this protection, but some products don’t, so it is up to you to protect your eyes, and the skin around them, from the sun.

How to do it? Look for eye care products (such as moisturizers) that include a sunblock. You should also make sure that your glasses and sunglasses have a UV coating.

Tip: Try layering UV products around your eyes for serious protection: Start with a moisturizer that contains sunscreen, then add mineral eyeshadow. Complete your look with a pair of UV-coated sunglasses or regular specs.