Your makeup may be making you sick

Your makeup may be making you sick

A lot can be revealed about someone through their eyes. In fact, many people like to accent their eyes with makeup as a sign of beauty, to hide normal aging or even as a form of art.

But did you know there are potential health dangers looming in your makeup bag?

Dr. Chris Albanis, an ophthalmologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill, notes several ocular problems that can develop as a result of cosmetics, including: pink eye, bacterial and fungal conjunctivitis, scratched corneas, allergic reactions and corneal infections.

“Many people don’t realize that the makeup they use every day can become a haven for germs,” explains Dr. Albanis. “Bacteria thrives in cosmetics that are either old or sit out in the open. When you unknowingly apply makeup that may be contaminated with bacteria, you run the risk of spreading that bacteria on your skin, eyes, and eyelids, leading to potential illness or infections.”

Dr. Albanis says ocular problems can also be triggered by inappropriate makeup application that causes scratches to the eye and various preservatives or ingredients that may spark an allergic reaction.

He offers the following tips to protect your eyes and health when applying your makeup:

  • Wash your hands and face. Prior to applying makeup, be sure to wash your hands and clean your face, including eyelids and eyelashes.
  • Follow instructions. Read the product’s instructions on how to best apply the makeup, how frequently to use it, how to best remove it and what temperature to store it in.
  • Don’t share. Keep your makeup to yourself, and don’t allow others to borrow your products or application tools to avoid cross-contamination and serious infections.
  • Store makeup away. Do not leave makeup out in the open where others can touch it or where substances from the air can come in contact with it when not in use. The best place to store makeup is in a cool, dry area.
  • Throw out old makeup. Because bacteria multiplies over time, routinely change out your eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara. Most eye cosmetics should not be used after three months of use. Dried mascara should be thrown out immediately.
  • Discard makeup after an infection. If you experience an infection in or around your eyes, replace all your eye makeup to prevent recurrence.
  • Remove makeup at night. Before going to sleep, make sure you properly remove all your makeup. Sleeping with eye makeup on can cause dryness, irritation and possible infection.

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About the Author

Julie Nakis
Julie Nakis

Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.