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Eye Makeup and Dry Eyes: The Inside Scoop

makeup and dry eyes

When you have dry eyes, all you want is to make your eyes feel more comfortable. You may talk to your doctor about prescription eye drops, special ointments, or even surgery to close your tear ducts.

But did you know that your makeup habits may be making your dry eyes worse? Before seeking treatment, you might want to first consider changing your makeup habits. Items that come in close contact with your eyes, such as mascara and eyeliner, may contaminate your tears and make your symptoms worse.

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What is dry eye?

Dry eye is a condition in which your eyes are unable to produce the proper tears to keep the eye moist. Your tears may be evaporating too fast, leaving your eyes dry and scratchy. Or your tears may not have the correct balance of oil, water, and mucus to be effective.

There are many reasons why dry eyes occur. Sometimes it’s because your body is aging. Other times it’s because of an underlying medical condition like rheumatoid arthritis or a thyroid problem.

No matter what causes dry eyes, using makeup can make them worse. You should know which products to avoid and how to properly apply makeup to preserve tears.

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Choosing the right makeup product

Certain makeup products can irritate your eyes and thin out your tear film. Here are some tips for choosing the best product if you have dry eyes:

  • Avoid old mascara that crumbles when it dries.
  • Use thickening mascara since it’s less likely to flake after it dries.
  • Consider using an eyelash curler instead of mascara.
  • Avoid makeup removers that have oil or parabens.
  • Avoid powder-based and liquid-based products, including eye shadows and foundations.
  • Use cream-based products instead.

Why some products can make your dry eyes worse

Many eye makeup products come in contact with the membrane covering your eyeball. This is also called your tear film.

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Studies suggest that where you apply eye makeup can make a difference. One experiment involved measuring the volume of glitter particles in subjects’ tears when using eyeliner. Those who applied the liner along the lash line experienced a higher volume of particles in their tear film than those who applied it outside the lash line. The researchers suggested that the movement of makeup particles into the tear film could make eye irritation and dry eyes worse.

For instance, if you use mascara that crumbles when it dries, you’ll get particles in your tear film. If you apply powder close to the bottom of your eye, you increase your risk of particles moving up into your eye. Powder eye shadows can also expose your eyes to even more loose particles.

The bottom line is that eye makeup can thin out your tear film. This causes tears to evaporate more quickly. In fact, some people get dry eyes because of eye makeup.

How to use makeup when you have dry eyes

Although eye makeup can cause problems with dry eyes, there are ways to apply it to minimize particle transfer. Here are some tips:

  • Insert lubricating eye drops about 30 minutes before applying makeup.
  • Use separate applicators for each type of makeup.
  • Always apply eye makeup outside of your eyelashes.
  • Apply mascara to just the tip of the eyelashes.
  • Keep mascara use to a minimum.
  • Use makeup on other areas of your face instead of the eyes.

You should also take care when removing makeup, and use healthy makeup practices. This includes the following:

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  • Always take off eye makeup before you go to sleep.
  • Try a little baby shampoo on cotton or a cloth to remove makeup.
  • Decrease bacteria from eye pencils by sharpening them before each use.
  • Wash makeup brushes on a regular basis.
  • Don’t use makeup when you have an eye infection.

Takeaway

The best way to be sure eye makeup doesn’t irritate your eyes is to avoid wearing any. If you have chronic dry eyes, you may not be able to apply eye makeup. Applying mascara and eyeliner to the inner part of the eyelash can also affect your tears and irritate your eyes.

Make the decision about eye makeup that’s right for you. If you have severe or chronic dry eye, eye makeup is probably not for you. However, with the right hygiene, application, and products, you may be able to keep wearing it.

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