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Eye makeup and makeup used around the eyes may be causing us to experience dry eye symptoms more than we should. Makeup, such as fake eyelashes, mascara, eyeliner and even foundation, are the biggest culprits. This is because makeup particles can enter the tears of the eye. The tear film consists of three layers before reaching the cornea – an oily layer on the outside, watery layer in the middle and the inner layer of mucus, and each layer have its own purpose.

The oil layer is the outermost surface of the tear film. Its main purpose is to seal the tear film, smooth the tear surface and reduce evaporation of our natural tears. The main culprit of using makeup is it can thin out the oily layer and accurate evaporation of tear production.

The middle watery layer, otherwise known as ‘aqueous’ layer, makes up most of our tears. This part of the tear film cleanses and washes away particles or irritants. It is mostly comprised of water, but also contains enzymes, minerals, proteins and chemicals.

The mucus layer allows our eyes to remain moist and provides the cornea with necessary nourishment, as well as maintains the stability, spread and coherence of the tear film. This layer consists of secreted mucins, electrolytes, and water. Without a stable mucus layer, tears would not stick to the surface of the eye and overall vision would be impaired. The more layers that are exposed to makeup infections, the more serious it can be.

Conjunctivitis from poor makeup hygiene

All three layers work together to help maintain our overall eye health and provides us from infection. And if for whatever reason, one part of the tear film isn’t functioning properly, this can start to cause dry eye symptoms. If we don’t blink enough, dry spots can develop on our tear layers and this can leave our eyes vulnerable to foreign particles and infections.

Our eyes are extremely delicate and sensitive organs, and we can sometimes forget this. It is essential to practice makeup hygiene and develop techniques to minimise particles from entering.

Add our tips to your makeup routine:

  • Always remove makeup before bed, otherwise, our eye makeup can clog oil-producing glands and give us infections
  • Consider removing eyelash extensions from your makeup kit and replace with growth serums or thickening mascara as the glue found in fake eyelashes can damage your eyelids and tear production
  • Avoid waterproof mascara as it is harder to remove and therefore can clog eye glands
  • Use a gel-based makeup remover that is oil and paraben-free and avoid minerals oil, sodium lauryl sulphate and diazolidnyl urea to avoid eye irritation
  • Wash makeup applicators once a week if used daily and don’t use the same applicator on different parts of the face to avoid infections
  • Replace powder-based shadows and foundations with creams, as powders have a higher risk of irritating our tear film
  • Apply eyeliner to the outside of the lash line instead of inside of the lash line and never apply eye makeup over the oil glands to prevent particles invading tear production
  • Ditch arsenic, lead, nickel, beryllium, cadmium, carmine, and thallium ingredients in makeup and opt for hypoallergenic brands to avoid excess irritation
  • After developing eye infections, throw away makeup that was applied to that area and replace it
  • Use eye drops 20-30 minutes before putting on makeup

If dry eye is left untreated, the damage can lead to corneal damage and vision loss. It is important to keep your eyes lubricated if you are at risk from getting DED and to make sure to visit your eye doctor regularly.

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