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Protect Those Eyes: Keep a Healthy Makeup Bag

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Protect Those Eyes by Keeping a Healthy Makeup Bag Alena Ozerova/PhotoSpin

Eye makeup is a staple for many women. It can work wonders to enhance your facial features. Take the smokey eye, for instance. You can use two shades of eyeshadow to perfectly match your outfit.

You name it, eye makeup has evolved to do it.

However, the eyes are sensitive and even the smallest amount of makeup product can cause an infection.

Don’t worry, we’ve got ya covered.

Continue reading to learn about issues that arise from wearing eye makeup, strategies and tips for contact lens wearers, and prevention methods to keep your makeup collection — and your eyes — bacteria-free.

One of the most serious injuries that can be caused by applying eye makeup is a scratched cornea. This can lead to corneal abrasion and can result in an infected cornea.

The cornea is the clear front surface of your eye and is located directly in front of the iris, which is the colored part of your eye. The cornea has several layers that help protect the eye.

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, can result from expired makeup or makeup that has not been properly sealed. Always be sure to check expiration dates and tightly close the lid on your eyeshadows, eyeliners, mascara tubes, concealers and powders.

Most makeup contains preservatives that prevent bacteria from forming. However, stop using any makeup that starts to irritate your eyes to avoid the possibility of pink eye.

If you are aware that you have a specific allergy, to latex or fragrance, for instance, always check for possible allergens when purchasing makeup.

An allergic reaction is marked by redness, irritation, swelling and infection of the eye. If you experience this after you purchase your makeup, contact an eye doctor to find out what your eyes are sensitive to, and get proper care.

Do not continue to use that product.

Contact lens wearers may be more susceptible to problems related to eye makeup. As a lens wearer myself, I often have a complicated relationship with my eye makeup.

Contact lenses can get contaminated if even the smallest amount of product comes in contact with them. To avoid irritation, insert your contacts before applying makeup, and avoid heavy makeup close to the eye.

Apply eyeliner on the outside of the lash line. The less makeup comes in contact directly with your eye, the better.

Sharpen your eyeliner pencil to avoid painful scratches against the eyelids and or eyes.

Once I started using eyeliner pencils, I soon became aware that I needed to make sure my pencils were sharpened to a certain level of precision every time I applied them. I have to sharpen mine almost daily.

Replace your eye makeup every three to four months to avoid bacterial infections and expired products. And of course, be sure to replace all products after an eye infection to keep bacteria from spreading.

The number one tip for avoiding the spread of bacteria is to never share your eye makeup products or the applicator brushes.

It’s difficult to tell when products, such as eyeshadow palettes, expire. Products like mascara make expiration more evident. Mascara may start to clump or form an odor when it expires.

The editors of POPSUGAR and BellaSugar teamed up on a quick video about how to check for expiration dates to ensure a healthy makeup bag.

BellaSugar has a list of when makeup products typically expire.

Some products such as powder eyeshadow have little symbols on the back that have a number indicating the products shelf life in months or years.

For example, mascara has a shelf life of about three months, liquid eyeliner is okay for a few months (ideally two), and pencil eyeliner is good for about a year — you do get rid of some bacteria when you sharpen the pencil.

So there you have it — tips on how to detect when makeup is causing issues, as well as resources to learn more about how to keep a healthy makeup bag.

No one should suffer from an outbreak of bacteria from a cute little bottle of mascara or eyeshadow palette. Stay healthy, stay safe, stay beautiful.


Can makeup cause vision problems. Vision Source. 2014.

Corneal abrasion. Mount Sinai Hospital EBSCO Publishing. 2015.

Everything you need to know about makeup expiration dates (video). Huff Post Style.
Makeup ingredients you might want to avoid. Huffington Post. 2013.

Add a Comment1 Comments


This is a great reminder! I'm going to go through my makeup bag right away....

April 17, 2015 - 6:57am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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