Protecting Your Eyelids from Irritation is essential. Makeup and other cosmetic products are extremely prevalent in American society. One poll has estimated that four out of five women in the US wear makeup every single day, and nearly half of American women feel dependent on it. While people may think a lot about how makeup will affect their career or their social life, not that much thought is given to the effects that it may be having on our health. Really, when we use makeup we are applying chemicals and anything else that might be in these products, onto one of the most sensitive areas of our body, our delicate facial skin.
When buying cosmetics, read the labels to check for ingredients that have been implicated in health problems. Here are some of the more common ones:
● Sulfates, such as sodium laureth sulfates, which are reactive compounds that can damage or irritate the skin and eyes
● Phthalates, which are hormone mimetics and can disrupt endocrine signaling
● Parabens, which mimic estrogen and can disrupt meibomian gland function
● BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), an artificial antioxidant which also is an endocrine disruptor
● Phenoxyethanol, a rose-scented preservative which can cause skin irritation and be toxic in high enough levels
● Kohl, a traditional mineral-based substance which may contain lead
● Formalin, a compound similar to formaldehyde which is toxic to cells
● Urea compounds, which may release formaldehyde as they decompose
Some trace components or untested chemicals can be difficult to identify or know the effects of. Some makeups contain small amounts of heavy metals, which can be toxic when they accumulate from repeated use. Many preservatives, anti-caking agents, or stabilizers in cosmetics can cause irritation to the skin, and can even be carcinogenic when used for lengths of time.2
Makeup use is a common way to spread infectious agents to your skin or eyes. After makeup containers have been opened and used, the risk of them becoming contaminated increases as they age. Bacteria especially are great at hitching rides on cosmetic brushes and may populate opened containers. Other pathogens such as viruses or fungi, or Demodex mites, may be spread if contaminated makeup or applicators are used by more than one person. These critters can lead to a multitude of ocular disorders such as inflammation, dry eye, and even vision issues. Accidentally poking the surface of your eye with a mascara wand is an especially great way to give yourself a serious eye infection.
Covering Up Your Glands
There are several types of glands inside and along the edges of your eyelids. These glands secrete various fluids that are important for maintaining the health and cleanliness of the surface of your eyes. The lachrymal glands produce moisturizing and cleansing tears, and the meibomian glands produce the protective lipid layer that prevents your eyes from losing moisture too quickly. If makeup, such as mascara or eyeliner, is spread over the top of these glands it can cause them to clog or produce insufficient fluid. This can cause inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) and dry eye disease. Thick makeup that covers the pores of your skin can also lead to breakouts of acne.
Signs that your makeup is making you sick
Irritation or infection from cosmetic use can cause a wide array of eye and skin conditions. Be mindful of flare-ups of skin issues, irritation, or eye inflammation that occurs along with makeup use. The most common conditions that arise from cosmetic usage are skin disorders, either allergic contact dermatitis or irritant contact dermatitis. Essentially, this is when your skin becomes inflamed due to irritation from substances within the makeup, causing it to turn red, itch, and flake. Redness, swelling, itching, burning, or stinging in the eyes or eyelids are indicators that there is an infection that may have been delivered through makeup application. Even if a disorder was not directly caused by cosmetics, you should discontinue makeup use until the symptoms have fully resolved.3
Tips for Healthy Makeup Use
There are several steps you can take to avoid eye and skin problems while wearing makeup:
—Avoid products that contain ingredients that are known health hazards. Stay away from makeup that contains glitter as well. Glitter can flake into your eyes and irritate or damage them.
—Use makeup that is fresh and moist. Makeup that is old or dry was being used when you developed an eye infection, or was used by another person has a much higher chance of being contaminated.
—Be careful while applying makeup; take your time, and don’t attempt to put it on while in a moving vehicle. Poking or scraping your eyeball with a makeup brush can cause corneal damage and transfer pathogens to your eye.
—Clean your makeup brushes regularly.
—Add a drop of lipid-based artificial tears before applying eyeshadow to help keep it from accumulating in the corners of your eyes.
—Don’t apply makeup inside your eyelash line as this can clog the glands in your eyelids. Always wash your hands before putting makeup on.
—Take all of your makeup off at the end of the day. Sleeping with eye makeup on can cause eye infections, cause your eyelashes to stick together, clog glands and pores, and trigger irritation and inflammatory responses.
—Fully clean your face every day. A daily face washing routine is important for keeping irritants, harmful chemicals, and infectious agents such as eyelash mites and bacteria off the surface of your skin and from getting into your eyes. A gentle facial cleanser such as Cliradex Light is ideal for this. Cliradex contain 4-terpineol, a natural compound that has beneficial mite-killing properties. It is also safe enough to use on your delicate facial skin long-term.
Be smart about your cosmetics use, and take these few daily steps to keep your eyes and skin both healthy and beautiful!