Mar 5th 2024

Expired Makeup Products And What They Can Do To Your Eyes

Expired Makeup Products And What They Can Do To Your Eyes

We all have that one makeup product we loved a little too much and a little too long past its expiration date. Although it’s expired, we just can’t seem to get rid of it because it still works just fine, so what’s the harm? Just like we shouldn’t eat expired foods, we also shouldn’t use expired makeup products. Why? Because there are certain risks and side effects to using expired makeup products that can seriously damage your health.

Many women end up with eye infections from cosmetics, and in some rare cases, they have been temporarily or permanently blinded by an eye cosmetic.

Which Makeup Products Can Damage Your Eyes?

According to research, mascara is the one product you should fear most. Even though it is a pity to throw away a half-used mascara– you should. Using mascara that is over three months old can increase the risk of pink eye and other inflammatory conditions. We already know that our eyes are the most susceptible area to infections. In the roots where our lashes grow, there are thousands of pores, glands, and tear ducts that have bacteria on them. If you wear contact lenses you can also transmit fungus (which can grow on your lenses). When we use a mascara brush, we automatically contaminate it. Over time, the infected brush leads to a buildup of bacteria in the cosmetics container. This increases the chance of an eye infection or an allergic reaction with each use of the product.

Eye shadow is similar to mascara, the longer we have eye shadow, the more likely we are to get an eye infection. To be sure, try keeping your eye shadow for no longer than six months. You may start to think of how many eyeshadows you’ve had in your collection for years, and it can seem wasteful to throw it away so soon, but a great solution to this is to buy small or travel-size eyeshadow kits instead. Eyeliner is another product extremely similar to mascara. And even though eyeliner tends to last longer before expiring, it still runs the risk of germ contamination if you use it past its expiration. To prevent the development of any sort of eye irritation or infection, it's best to just stop using any old eyeliners. The same principles apply to lash growth serums or any product placed on the eye. Not only can particles of makeup land in the eyes and cause redness and irritation, but more serious infections that threaten sight can result if the surface of the eye is scratched with an infected brush or makeup pencil.

How To Protect Our Eyes From Makeup

Keep track of how long you’ve been using certain products like mascara and eyeliners and look out for the small makeup container symbol on the packaging, which will state how long a product is good for until it expires. This is useful because cosmetic companies are not required to print expiration dates on makeup.

Another important note– Never share your makeup. Cross-contamination happens when two or more people use the same brushes or eyeliners. The biggest risk with sharing makeup is passing on an infection like viral conjunctivitis or pink eye. Exposure to even a small amount of virus can lead to a very uncomfortable infection.

Never apply your mascara before putting in your contact lenses as bacteria from your makeup can get in your eye, which is then covered with a contact lens, thus making the bacteria grow more rapidly. It is also much easier to see where you’re applying your mascara if you put on your contacts first before picking up the mascara wand.

The Dangers Of False Eyelash Glue?

Have you ever wondered whether false eyelashes can pose health risks to your eyes? The answer to that is yes, they sure can. While fake eyelashes and eyelash extensions become more popular, so do the risks associated with this particular trend.

Most eyelashes are either held to the eye with glue, whether temporary or permanent until the lash naturally falls off or the glue weakens., This can cause irritation or allergic reactions to the eye Glue can sometimes contain formaldehyde, which specifically can result in burning, stinging, swelling, and a rash upon contact or even up to a week later. The lashes are also usually glued at places that are typically not very hygienic. Bacteria and fungus can get trapped under the glue and lead to infection, which causes swelling, redness, and a lot of pain around your eyes. The lashes themselves can even irritate the cornea, and when the glue thickens, it can fall off and scratch the cornea. These false eyelashes, especially extended ones, can also seriously damage your natural eyelashes. In most cases, lash extensions will weaken and shorten the natural lashes. Despite lash technicians assuring you that they won’t cause damage, it is best to not seek advice from those who are not medical professionals. In many cases, the weight of the glue and the false lashes can slowly damage the hair follicle, making it difficult to grow back your natural eyelashes.

Temporary false eyelashes can also cause similar complications, and when they are pulled off at the end of the night, many of the real eyelashes come off with them too. Even if they don’t, the pressure from the artificial lash strips will slowly weaken the hair follicle over time. Eyelashes are necessary to keep dirt and bacteria away from the eye, and when they become sparse or damaged, your eye is at risk for infection. Additionally, these false eyelashes can trap the same dirt and bacteria that natural eyelashes are intended to protect your eyes from.

Eye Makeup & Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses and makeup can be quite bothersome because makeup can stick to the lenses. If you want to wear makeup together with contacts, you should know that you need to put in your contacts before applying makeup. This way you will avoid getting any makeup residue between the contact lenses and your eye. This will in turn prevent the development of the bacteria in your eye. Additionally, be sure not to apply makeup in the waterline of your eyes, as this will especially disturb the placement of your lenses and put you at high risk of scratching the cornea.

Eyeliner and mascara are another problem for those wearing contacts. Eyeliner shouldn’t be applied along your inner lash line or eyelid, instead, it should be applied above the lashes. Mascara is usually put on from the base of the lashes up, but if you wear lenses, it should be put on from the midpoint and extended to the tips. Try to use water-resistant or long-wear mascara and eyeliner to prevent flaking and smudging, and refrain from wearing false eyelashes as the glue can irritate your eyes. Your lashes will thank you in the long run.

When removing the makeup, you should start with removing your lenses first and then taking off your eye makeup. When choosing make-up products, look for hypoallergenic products and replace your makeup regularly to keep it fresh and hygienic. Always search for dermatologist-recommended makeup remover products, and be sure to choose something gentle and never rub your eyes excessively. A good makeup remover will remove the makeup in one swipe onto a cotton pad. Please note that if your eyes are swollen, red, or irritated, then don’t put in lenses or apply any makeup.

Safety Tips

Tips offered by the FDA for the proper use of eye cosmetics:

Although many of us learn how to use makeup by watching our loved ones apply makeup in the mirror, we are not always taught about the health risks associated with improper application and use of makeup. Therefore, we have compiled a list below of a few tips from the FDA on the proper use of eye cosmetics.

Immediately stop using eye products that cause irritation. If irritation persists, see a healthcare provider.

If you experience any irritation, itching, burning, or discomfort while wearing makeup, be sure to remove it immediately. Especially if you are wearing contacts.In this case, you should remove the contact lens first, soak your contact lenses in the appropriate solution, and then remove the rest of your eye makeup. There are plenty of websites and apps where you can track the safety levels of cosmetic products so you can avoid making a bad purchase. If irritation of any sort still occurs, seek a healthcare professional immediately.

Wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics. If you don't, the bacteria on your hands could cause an infection. Before applying makeup, it is always best to not only wash your face but to wash your hands. If you use a beauty sponge, before starting your makeup routine it is a good idea to thoroughly clean the sponge with soapy water and then your hands as well. Even though it may be easy to apply your makeup with your fingers, whether it’s eyeshadow or undereye concealer, always ensure you are doing so with clean brushes and hands. If your makeup is stored in the bathroom, the humidity caused by the shower can be an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, so be sure to refrain from keeping your products in moist environments which may further the spread of harmful germs.

Make sure that any cosmetic tool you place near the eye is clean.

If you’re a regular makeup wearer, then you’re probably familiar with the myriad of tools available on the market to help you get that perfect application. While we’ve come a long way since eyelash curlers and sponge-tip eyeshadow applicators, it is still important to switch out our tools with fresh ones often. For example, if you use an eyelash curler, only use it before you use mascara and still be sure to sanitize the curling pad and metal rims to remove the buildup of oils, skin products, or residual makeup. You can buy replacement pads at any major cosmetic store or online. Additionally, it is also important to thoroughly wash your brushes to avoid the risks of acne or eye infections. Simply use a gentle cleanser with warm water, lather the bristles, and thoroughly rinse before laying them out to dry. It is recommended to do this every two weeks minimum, especially if you use these tools daily. Additionally, don't allow cosmetics to become covered with dust or infected with dirt or soil. Wipe off the container with a damp cloth if you can see dust or dirt to avoid getting your hands dirty.

Don't use old containers of eye cosmetics. If you haven't used the product for several months, it's better to throw it out and buy a new one.

It is best to always refrain from using old cosmetic products. While many of us still have celebrity eyeshadow palettes lying around since the wave of 2016 YouTube influencers, although they may be hard to part with considering the cost, it is best to throw them away. A perfectly blended eyeshadow and smudged eyeliner look are never worth the damage to your eyes, and it is best to avoid purchasing palettes or products that will take you more than 3-6 months to use up. A good way to avoid this is to find the shades you like and purchase single eyeshadows and travel-size mascara/eyeliner. It’s cheaper, takes up less space, and is safer for your eyes.

Never mix saliva in your cosmetics. The bacteria in your mouth is sure to grow in the cosmetic and later use may cause an eye infection.

This tip may come as a surprise to many, but many people have built a habit of using their saliva to smudge their liner, remove a fleck of unwanted mascara, or blend out their eyeshadow. While none of us wants to walk around with smudged mascara– unless that’s your look, of course, there are much simpler ways to achieve the same result. For example, keep Q-tips handy at all times along with a bit of liquid makeup remover. If you make a mistake, soak the Q-tip in some makeup remover and swipe away the unwanted makeup. Or, if you are trying to remove a fleck of mascara, always wait 60 seconds until it is dry, take a dry Q-tip, and swipe it right off. Voila!

Don't share your cosmetics. Another person's bacteria in your cosmetic can be harmful to you.

As we mentioned before, it is crucial to never share eye cosmetics in general. Many of us have seen the movie scenes where one girl saves another with a wand of mascara or a swipe of shared lipgloss in the bathroom– however, this is never a good idea. If a friend or stranger sees you applying mascara and asks to share, it may be awkward to say no, but it is better to decline than to take the risk. A great way to handle a situation like this is to state that you never share cosmetics because there are some nightmare stories out there about nasty eye infections or styes caused by shared makeup products. Or, you can always carry some new samples of unused mascara tubes. Professional makeup artists often also carry several dozen clean disposable mascara wands in their toolkits. However, if you do this, then be sure to not stick a used mascara wand in the tube, as this will automatically contaminate it and defeat the purpose.

Don't store cosmetics at temperatures above 85°F (29°C). Cosmetics held for long periods in hot cars, for example, are more at risk of weakening the preservative.

Never store your makeup bag in a car, or leave it in places that are humid and/or hot. Always keep your eye makeup products in a cool, dark environment to avoid the growth of bacteria. There are certain preservatives in makeup products that will disintegrate even sooner when kept in places which are above 85°F (29°C). Always check the label for more information, and dispose of any products you are not sure about.

Avoid using eye cosmetics if you have an eye infection or the skin around the eye is red. Wait until the area is healed.

Whether you are facing an illness, eye infection, or experiencing symptoms of burning, itching eyes, it is always best to refrain from using eye cosmetics until your eyes are back to health. By applying makeup to infected or irritated eyes, not only are you contaminating your products so the problem will occur repeatedly, the products will combine with the existing bacteria and promote further growth resulting in more severe conditions. If you have a stye, infection, or any sort of irritation, refrain from using any makeup and speak with an eye care professional if problems persist.

Take extra care in using eye cosmetics if you have any allergies.

If you experience seasonal allergies, it may be even more difficult to wear contact lenses due to watery and/or irritated eyes. Therefore, if you must wear makeup try using a water-resistant mascara and opt for glasses instead. Please note that when choosing water-resistant products it is crucial to have a gentle yet effective eye makeup remover instead, to avoid any rubbing of the eyes. Allergies can impose a big challenge on contact lens wearers especially those who wear both contacts and makeup combined. Therefore, try to avoid one or the other and check out our other article on Contacts & Seasonal Allergies for more tips and tricks.

When applying or removing eye cosmetics, be careful not to scratch the eyeball or some other sensitive area of the eye.

As mentioned before, there are countless makeup remover brands on the market. You can usually never go wrong with choosing a dermatologist-recommended product, but it is best to avoid using makeup wipes, as they often require more rubbing and pulling of the delicate skin around the eyes. Often, this causes the residue and microscopic debris of the makeup products to fall into the eye and cause irritation. Therefore, it is best to soak makeup remover on a cotton pad or clean reusable one, lay it over your closed eye for 5-10 seconds, and slowly wipe off the unwanted makeup. You may have to repeat the process a few times until there is no residual residue on the eye and/or cotton pad.

At The End Of The Day

Although applying makeup can cause certain eye risks, this article is not meant to discourage you from your creative expression, but rather inform you on what common mistakes to avoid to keep your eyes nice, white, and healthy. After all, a smokey makeup look may go from sultry to scary with red or irritated eyes. Now that you have all of the information you need about makeup wear and contacts, try implementing a few of these tips at a time into your routine and throw out those expired tubes of mascara sitting in your drawer… Your eyes will thank you later!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can using expired makeup products really harm my eyes?

Yes, expired makeup products can pose various risks to your eye health. Bacteria, fungi, and other harmful pathogens can thrive in expired products, potentially leading to eye infections and irritations.

What are the common signs that a makeup product has expired and should be discarded?

Look for changes in texture, color, or odor, as well as separation of ingredients. If your makeup product exhibits any of these signs, it's time to dispose of it.

How can mascara and eyeliners that have expired affect my eyes?

Expired mascara and eyeliners can become breeding grounds for bacteria, potentially leading to eye infections such as conjunctivitis or styes. Additionally, they can cause eye irritation due to changes in consistency.

Are there any specific makeup products that are more likely to cause eye problems when past their expiration date?

Eye makeup products like mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadows are more likely to cause eye problems when expired because they come into direct contact with your eyes.

Can I extend the shelf life of my makeup products?

To prolong the shelf life, store makeup products in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Additionally, wash your hands before using products and avoid introducing bacteria.

What's the best way to clean makeup brushes and applicators to prevent eye infections?

Regularly clean your makeup brushes and applicators with mild soap and warm water. Allow them to air dry completely to prevent bacterial growth.

What should I do if I experience eye irritation or infection from using expired makeup?

Discontinue use of the product immediately, remove any remaining makeup, and wash your eyes with clean water. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult an eye care professional.

Is it safe to share makeup products with others, or can this lead to eye problems?

Sharing makeup products, especially eye makeup, is not advisable as it can introduce bacteria and increase the risk of infections for both individuals. It's best to use your own makeup to maintain eye health

Understanding the risks associated with expired makeup products and practicing good hygiene can help protect your vision and overall eye health. Always prioritize safety when it comes to your eye makeup routine

See Clearly
Nick Zelver
Nick Zelver

Nick Zelver is the Editor at WebEyeCare. With a professional journey beginning at Optimax Eyewear in Tel Aviv, Nick excelled as the Director of Online Sales Channels, where he spearheaded the development of strategic sales channels and branding initiatives, fostering significant growth in online sales. His notable achievements in the field are underpinned by a rigorous academic foundation, having earned an entrance scholarship to Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).

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