Are These Eye Makeup Mistakes Harming Your Eyes?



We don’t have to convince you that your eyes are precious and should be handled with care. And yet, we all are probably guilty of committing some no-nos. Curious about the most common eye makeup mistakes people make, we reached out to two eye doctors for the DL and girl, they did not hold back. From mishaps that lead to mild irritations to mistakes that could really harm the health of your eyes, these habits just aren’t worth the risk.

1. Tightlining

We hate to be the bearers of bad news just when this trend started making a comeback, but it’s gonna be a hard pass from the eye doctors we interviewed. (If you’re unsure what tightlining is, it’s simply applying eyeliner directly to your waterline or the eyelid margin between your eye and lashes.)

“Special organs known as the meibomian glands reside right at the waterlines of each eye,” explains Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo, a board-certified ophthalmologist and founder of twenty/twenty beauty. “These glands produce oil that prevents the moisture in your eyes from evaporating, and many ingredients in makeup can lead to the death of your meibomian glands. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, and you’re left with dry, scratchy eyes and blurry vision.”

Even if your glands don’t die, blocking these glands can easily result in dry eye syndrome and styes, “the latter of which may require antibiotics or an in-office procedure to be drained,” notes Dr. Margaret E. Moore, a board-certified optometrist based in Connecticut.

And FYI, we did double-check with both doctors and this advice holds true even if the product itself says something like “safe for the waterline.”

2. Using Glitter as Eyeshadow

Craft glitter is beautiful, but it belongs on construction paper and crafts – not your sensitive eye area. Products that contain shimmer or glitter and are approved for eye usage have been tested vigorously for eye safety, whereas craft glitter – and even glitter found in lipsticks, highlighters, and other cosmetics – have not been tested for this area.

“A single glitter particle could be large, stiff, and sharp enough that it could potentially cause a small corneal abrasion,” says Dr. Moore. “The cornea is one of the most sensitive tissues in the body. An abrasion or ulcer, [which is] an infected abrasion, can be very painful and can potentially cause permanent scarring in some cases.”

3. Not Removing All Your Eye Makeup at Night

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Repeat after us: What goes on must come off at the end of the day. Everything – including that stubborn waterproof mascara – needs to be washed away before you hop into bed.

“Harmful microbes build up around the eye if you don’t cleanse the area daily, which could cause nasty infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye) and staph,” warns Dr. Hilal-Campo. “Not only that, but mascara can also permanently stain the lining of your upper and lower eyelids, which is incredibly unhealthy and can be painful.”

You may need a specific product, such as a cleansing oil or balm, or micellar water, that effectively removes all traces of eye makeup. When cleansing, do make sure to be gentle.

4. Applying Retinol Products That Aren’t Approved for Use Near Eyes

You may have wondered to yourself, “why do I need a retinol eye cream when I’ve got a regular retinol cream I already dropped a bunch of cash on?” That’s an excellent question, and there’s an excellent answer. Both are formulated differently, and eye creams are tested specifically for safety around the eyes.

“Look for retinol creams that are specially formulated for use near the eye, [which typically] include encapsulated or buffered retinol,” Dr. Moore advises. She adds, “Always do a small patch test first to ensure your skin tolerates the product well. Another alternative is to use a product with bakuchiol instead of retinol. Early studies have demonstrated that bakuchiol produces effects similar to retinol while causing less irritation.”

5. Getting Lash Extensions on a Regular Basis

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They’re nice for a special occasion, but the eye pros we spoke to say lash extensions can potentially be a hazard to your eyes and shouldn’t be worn all the time. Not to mention, they can be damaging to your lashes themselves.

“The chemicals used during the lash extension process, including formaldehyde, are incredibly toxic to the eye area, and can also kill those essential meibomian glands,” notes Dr. Hilal-Campo. “Allergies to these ingredients are also common, and can cause uncomfortable inflammation, swelling, and irritation.”

She adds that poorly placed lashes can cause significant damages to the ocular surface, as well, including scratched corneas. Also, it can be difficult to adequately clean the lashes – and some people forego doing so in attempts to preserve them – which can lead to infections. An unclean environment can also lead to infections.

If you want dramatic lashes, opt for a volumizing, length-enhancing mascara or use (clean!) faux lashes applied with just-washed hands.

For more common beauty mistakes, check out the big skin care no-nos you need to ditch.