In honor of Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, I want to offer some tips to my female patients regarding make-up application and removal. I am not talking about tips on how to get the perfect winged eyeliner or smoky eye (but if someone can teach me, that will be greatly appreciated). I am referring to how to put make-up on and remove it to avoid getting dry and red eyes.
One of the common causes of dry eye is meibomian gland dysfunction. The eyelid margin (also known as the waterline) is lined with meibomian glands that secrete oil to lubricate the eye. However, if there is chronic blockage of the gland, it can become inflamed and no longer produce the oil we need to keep our eyes feeling moisturized.
© 2016 American Academy of Ophthalmology
Often, I see my female patients wearing eyeliner on their lower eyelid, specifically, on the eyelid margin over the meibomian glands. If you do this, do you notice that the eyeliner never stays on? It is because your eyelid margin is trying to pump oil through your eyeliner to lubricate your eye with each blink. That oil then moves your eyeliner onto your eyes, irritates it, causing redness. Overtime, the eyeliner can clog those glands and decrease oil production, known as meibomian gland dysfunction, causing dry eyes. Clogging those glands can also cause styes to form. When applying eyeliner to the lower lid, apply to the base of the eyelashes and avoid lining the waterline.
Eyeliner isn’t the only make-up that can clog your meibomian glands: eyeshadow, powder and foundation often make their way onto the eyelid margin. Therefore, remove your make-up before going to bed each night. When removing your make-up, do not forget to clean the eyelid margin. You can use oil-free make-up remover, pre-moistened lid scrubs or make your own mixture with a 1:1 ratio of water and baby shampoo. Use a cotton swab to gently wipe your make-up off.
If you wear contact lenses, make-up can leave deposits on the lenses, making contact lenses uncomfortable as the day goes on and as the lenses get older. It is best to insert your contact lenses in your eyes before putting make-up on. Remember to rub your contact lenses clean each evening, replace the solution in the case daily, inspect your lenses before inserting them into your eyes and dispose your contact lenses as recommended by your doctor. (These rules apply to all contact lens wearers, not just make-up wearers.)
On days your eyes are red and irritated, avoid wearing make-up. You might contaminate your make-up and/or your make-up may be making your eyes worse. Clean your brushes often and replace your mascara and eyeliner every few months. Some more reminders: do not share your make-up, do not use glittery cosmetics and make-up that has dried out, as either can get particles into your eye and scratch it, and do not apply your make-up while driving or riding in the car.
Most importantly, for my last make-up tip, live by this quote:
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others.
For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness.
And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
- Audrey Hepburn