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Breakup to Makeup: Is Your Old Makeup Causing Eye Infections?

Many people use makeup to convey their style and mood. Funky. Dramatic. Casual. Professional. Romantic.

The average American woman spends $8 a day on facial cosmetics. That can add up to $300,000 over a lifetime. It’s a significant investment in enhancing your beauty.

But, there’s a hidden danger with makeup. Poor application and old makeup cause infections, injury, and allergic reactions. The result is scary instead of appealing.

It’s easy to avoid problems when you follow makeup best practices. Keep reading for details on enhancing your appearance without irritating your eyes.

First, let’s look at issues caused by improper use of eye makeup.

Eye Infections

Conjunctivitis (aka Pink Eye) is the most common eye infection. It makes your eyes red, itchy, and watery. It’s caused by bacterial and viral infections or an allergic reaction.


A bacterial infection causes redness, swelling, and extra discharge from your eyes. It can be contagious. It’s caused by contact with some form of bacteria.

Makeup contains preservatives to stop bacteria growth. But, if the product isn’t sealed right, bacteria gets inside. 

Makeup used past the end date is also prone to bacteria and fungi. You risk infection when you use old makeup.


People often get viral eye infections after an upper respiratory infection. Along with irritated eyes, swelling often occurs near the ears.

A viral infection is very contagious. The viral particles can remain on objects for weeks before infecting another person. 

If you experience any of these symptoms schedule an eye exam right away.

Scratched Cornea

It’s easy to hurt your cornea while putting on mascara and eyeliner. Use extra care not to touch your eyeball with the applicator.

Avoid applying makeup in a moving vehicle where the potential for poking your eye is high.

A scratched cornea can lead to a corneal abrasion. Scratching your eye with old makeup containing bacteria can cause a serious infection.

Allergic Reactions

Always check the product label if you have allergies. Makeup formulas change often. It’s a good idea to check every time you buy a product.

Chemicals, fragrances, and preservatives in makeup cause allergic reactions in some users. Nickel and iron oxide are common irritants found in cosmetics.

An allergen makes your eye to water, turn red, swell, or become infected.

Don’t assume a hypoallergenic product is allergen-free. If your eyes are sensitive try one new cosmetic at a time. This helps determine which product causes the reaction.

Use Caution with Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses, you may be more susceptible to eye makeup problems. Small particles can contaminate your lenses. Oil or makeup on or under a lens can become an infection fast.

It’s best to put in your contacts before applying makeup. If you insert contacts after applying makeup, make sure your hands don’t have oil or makeup on them.

Avoid products with glitter and sparkles that can flake off. The particles could get trapped underneath the contact lens.

Next, let’s dig into ways you can prevent eye problems caused by makeup.

How to Prevent Eye Problems

Yes, you can wear makeup and protect your eyes at the same time. Follow these steps to reduce the risk of makeup-induced eye problems.

Not Sharing is Caring

When it comes to makeup it’s best not to share. It’s common to share makeup when a group of friends is primping for a night out together. But shared cosmetics spread bacteria and infection.

Get single-use applicators and individual mascaras for a makeup session with friends.

Throw Away Old Makeup

Every eye makeup product has an expiration date.

Mascara is good for 3 months. Creamy eyeshadow can last 6 months. Liquid and gel eyeliner expire after 4 months.

Bacteria and fungi grow in old makeup. Avoid bacterial infections by keeping your makeup up-to-date.

Replace products if the texture or smell changes. Toss eye makeup if it clumps, crumbles or changes color.

The best plan is to replace eye makeup every 3 to 4 months.

Check the Ingredients

Always look at the ingredients. This is vital if you’re prone to allergies. 

A sensitivity can trigger a serious infection. The only way to stop an allergic reaction is to avoid ingredients that cause problems.

Avoid any makeup that contains untested or harmful chemicals or ingredients

Wash Your Face 

Washing your face before you apply makeup prevents eye infections. Make sure your eyelids and lashes are clean. It’s a small but effective step. 

Never go to bed with makeup on. Remove all your makeup before your head hits the pillow. It prevents stray mascara or makeup from irritating your eyes while you sleep. 

If you use makeup remover, rinse your eyes with water to keep the remover out of your eyes.

Use a Soft Touch 

A soft touch works when applying casual or dramatic eye makeup. Always be gentle when applying eye makeup. The skin around the eyes is sensitive. 

Slow and steady application and removal protect your eyes from irritants.

Try not to apply eye makeup when you’re driving or riding in a vehicle. A sudden stop could result in trauma to your eyes.

Eyeliner Tips

Avoid putting eyeliner on the inside of your lash line. It makes you susceptible to scratches on your eye and eyelids. 

Always sharpen your eyeliner pencil. A precise point makes it easy to apply without risk to your eyeballs.

Replace All Your Makeup After an Infection

It’s tempting to keep that expensive mascara, but it’s dangerous. Get rid of all your eye makeup after an infection. It’s the only way to avoid spreading bacteria.

Keep Your Eyes Safe and Healthy

It’s easy to reduce the risk of eye infection throwing out your old makeup. Follow all the steps above to keep your eyes safe when wearing makeup.

If you have concerns related to your eyes and makeup use, don’t hesitate to get treatment.

Contact Cedar Park Vision for an appointment today. We’re here to keep your eyes healthy and beautiful.


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