Skip to main content


Laguna Beach: Call 949-494-1892

Home » Dry Eye » How To Use Eye Makeup Safely Without Dry Eye Irritation

How To Use Eye Makeup Safely Without Dry Eye Irritation

How To Use Eye Makeup Safely Without Dry Eye Irritation 640×350Some of our patients say they’ve been wearing more eye makeup since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, to draw more attention to their eyes —  the only area of their face visible above their face mask.

While this practice may accentuate your eyes beautifully, it can also lead to uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye syndrome like red, itchy, watery or burning eyes.

Here are a few of our top tips for safely applying makeup that won’t aggravate your sensitive eye area.

1. Use only eye-safe products.

If a product isn’t meant to be applied to your eyes, keep it far away from the delicate tissues that make up your eye area. Don’t assume that all black makeup pencils are eyeliners, or that tinted brow gels are basically eyelash mascara. Read packaging labels carefully and only use products that have been determined to be eye-safe by the FDA or manufacturers. Also, to avoid cross contamination, keep a set of brushes and applicators that you only use for eye makeup and no other areas of your face.

2. Sharing is caring… except when it comes to eye makeup.

No, not even with your sister or “bff.” Certain bacteria have been associated with the development of dry eye syndrome, and sharing eye makeup is an excellent way to introduce harmful microbes like bacteria and fungus to your eyes (or others’ eyes). This includes brushes and eyelash curlers as well.

3. Hygiene is the top priority.

As mentioned above, bacteria is a no-no for keeping your eyes healthy and happy. Unfortunately, some eye makeup products are the perfect breeding ground for some types of bacteria. That’s why keeping your eye makeup products clean is key. You can do this by sanitizing your brushes after each use or sharpening your eyeliner before you use it. Also, wash your hands and face before applying any makeup.

4. Keep the makeup on the outside of your eyes.

Even eye-safe makeup can clog the tiny glands (called meibomian glands) that line the inner rims of your upper and lower eyelids. Meibomian glands secrete nourishing oils that keep your eyes feeling comfortable and healthy. Applying makeup too close to the eye’s surface also significantly increases the risk of makeup particles ending up in your tear film and causing your tears to evaporate too quickly.

5. Replace your makeup regularly.

If you’ve had the same tube of mascara or eyeshadow for more than 3 months, it may be time for a replacement. You should always replace your eye makeup and applicators following an eye infection or if they start changing color or texture.

6. Remove your eye makeup thoroughly.

Clean eyes are happy eyes. Although it’s tempting to just roll into bed after a long day or night, try to make it a habit to remove every bit of makeup before going to bed. Going to sleep with eye makeup significantly increases your chance of developing blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids. Use an oil-free makeup remover or an eyelid wipe to wash the day away.

Eyes Giving You Trouble? We Can Help

Whether it’s an occasional irritation or a chronic problem, dry eye syndrome is no fun. The good news is that the condition is often easily treatable, so you can find relief without giving up your favorite eye makeup looks.

If your eyes have been feeling irritated, dry or uncomfortable, we can help. To schedule your dry eye consultation, contact i2iOptometry Dry Eye Center in Laguna Beach today!

i2iOptometry Dry Eye Center serves patients from Laguna Beach, Irvine, Tustin , Costa Mesa, and throughout California .

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Michael D. Cook

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic lack of ocular hydration that can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. When your tear quality or quantity is compromised, you may experience symptoms like eye redness, dryness, burning, stinging, stringy eye mucus, light sensitivity or watery eyes.

Q: Can dry eye syndrome be cured?

  • A: Although there isn’t yet a permanent cure for the condition, there are several ways to manage and treat dry eyes for long-lasting relief. Your dry eye optometrist will thoroughly examine your eyes to determine what’s causing your symptoms and prescribe the appropriate treatment plan.