Dry eyes making you give up your favorite eye make-up?

 As a woman, I understand the need for make-up and eye make-up especially. But for dry eye sufferers eye make-up: mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow, can be very irritating.  I have many patients who only wear their eye make-up for special occasions because daily use is too uncomfortable. 

Problems arise if the make-up is applied too thickly or in the wrong place.

While the oils in the skin and the eyes are cousins they are not compatible. If eyeliner is put on the eyelid margin then it can act as a bridge that that allows the skin oils to contaminate the tear oil. Mascara that finds its way down to the base of the lashes can also form a bridge for contamination. When the oils from the skin get into the tears, it produces a disruption of normal tear function causing the tears to break down too quickly resulting in the symptoms of dryness.

Problems can also occur with faulty eye make-up removal.


Some women don’t actually remove their make-up they just let it “wear off” with the help of a rinse from regular tap water.
Others use Vaseline, baby oil or other make-up removers that have a thick oily base. This does not mix well with the natural oils in the tear film.

Light make-up can easily be removed by using a gentle soap such as baby shampoo or a hypoallergenic cleanser such as Novatis Lid care or Clinque eye cleanser. Simply shampoo the eye lids with the finger tips. Do this morning and night.
If heavier make-up is used, then after using a commercial make up remover be sure to shampoo the lids to remove any residue from the cleaner. 

What are some safety tips to using eye cosmetics?

  • Apply eyeliner outside the lash line (away from the eye) to avoid direct contact of the cosmetic with the eye. There also will be less chance that the liner will flake off into the eye.
  • Avoid waterproof mascara- I know it is tempting to try especially if your eyes water a lot, but it impossible to remove from your eyelashes!
  • Avoid colored mascara- black is the least irritating.  
  • Try hypoallergenic make-up
  • Replace cosmetics every six months (more often if you wear contact lenses) to avoid excess contamination with skin bacteria.
  • Never use an old applicator in a fresh cosmetic product. The applicator will transfer bacteria to the new cosmetic.
  • After any eye infection, such as conjunctivitis, buy fresh eye makeup.
  • Even though eye makeup removers are designed for use around the eye, they can irritate the eye. Apply them carefully to the eyelid and avoid getting them in your eye.
  • Never use saliva to thin old or clumped makeup or to wet a mascara wand. Your saliva contains bacteria from your mouth.
  • If you use an eyelash curler, make sure the rubber is soft, not stiff and cracking. Always use the curler before applying mascara.
  • Do not share your eye cosmetics with others. Each person has different skin bacteria. If you contaminate your cosmetics with another person’s bacteria, you may get an infection.
  • Check with your eye doctor if you think you have a cosmetic-related eye problem.

While it seems such an innocent part of the daily routine, faulty application and removal of eye make-up can be a contributor to the symptoms of dry, gritty, burning eyes that many women experience on a daily basis. Often they suffer in silence unaware that there are many easy strategies and home treatments available for dry eye.

A new product available by prescription only is Latisse. It is the only FDA approved eyelash enhancer promising longer, fuller, thicker eyelashes.  Sounds too good to be true?-The verdict is still out on this product for dry eye sufferers.  I am intrigued by the concept and I am very familiar with the results because I have been using a similar medication for years to treat my glaucoma patients.  There is a risk for dry eyes though with the eyedrop form of this medication, Lumigan.  Because Latisse is only applied to the lashes and little is absorbed into the eyes, I think the risk for dryness should be very low.  And longer, fuller, darker lashes without eye make-up would be great for dry eye sufferers!

I will let you know how it works!

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