Eye Health and Ailments

When makeup goes bad, it goes really, really bad:

Open your eyes to the risks of wearing old eye makeup.

If you’re anything like me, once you find the mascara/ eye shadow/ eyeliner/ brow pencil that makes you look great you hold onto it for dear life. You never know when your favorites will be discontinued, leaving you to head off on the hunt again – sometimes in vain. Thinking it was past time to downsize my collection, I really looked hard at my bathroom cabinet today. And what I found was a messy mishmash of old eye makeup I’ve been holding on to for years, sometimes decades. And it got me thinking – can old makeup do harm to your eyes? After a little research, here’s what I found:

What price for beauty?

When you’re in hot pursuit of the perfect look, you don’t stop to think that all those pencils, sticks, wands and powders in your makeup bag of tricks could potentially become breeding grounds for bacteria, fungi or all manner of icky creepy crawlies. But the truth is, they’re often dirtier than the naked eye can see – and that’s bad news for your eye health. Products past their use-by date or unclean brushes can be particularly harmful for your sensitive eye area. Your average mascara wand is the perfect habitat for a little known bacterium called pseudomonas aeruginosa, known to cause corneal infections, red, sore eyes and painful sties. Even eye creams should be treated with caution, especially if you wear contact lenses. Bacteria can jump from extra residue onto your lenses, causing them to go bad and potentially leading to infections and thinning lashes.

Yahoo Beauty imageCan your mascara cause cancer?

Did you know some eyeliners and eye shadows contain lead, a carcinogenic neurotoxin that can affect your nervous system and cause high blood pressure, allergies, behavioural abnormalities and even decreased rates of fertility? Other chemicals commonly found in cosmetics Mercury and parabens — a chemical preservative used in many cosmetics — are also hazardous to your health. The latter is even supposed to inhibit bacteria growth, but is also a suspected trigger to cancer cell growth. One thing’s for certain. I’ll never look at my eye shadow in the same way again!

What can you do?

It’s pretty unlikely I’m going to go cold turkey from makeup. But my research did uncover some key things I can do to minimize the risk of infection and injury.

Throw away eye makeup after three months. After this time, you run a greater risk of bacteria being transferred into your eyes and a serious eye infection.
Avoid harmful ingredients. Check your makeup labels carefully – key ingredients to avoid are lead, parabens, mercury, talc, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), urea, sulfates and phthalates.
Don’t add eyeliner inside the water line. It can block glands from secreting the oil that protects the cornea and introduce bacteria directly into your eye. Take special care if you have dry eye, sensitive eyes or wear contact lenses.
Step away from the glitter. Every little while glitter eye shadow makes a comeback, and the flaking sparkles cause an epidemic of redness and irritation. They’re also a common cause of corneal irritation and infection. Just say no.
Never put eye makeup on in the car.All it takes is a sudden break, bump or bingle to poke or scratch your eye, which can sometimes cause serious corneal abrasion that needs immediate opthamological attention.
.See your doctor straight away if you experience: eye pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, swelling, discharge. Don’t mess with your eyes – your sight is too precious.