Generally speaking, the eyes have it, especially when it comes to makeup. Whether a seasoned smoky eyed specialist or an intermittent mascara maven, most of us regularly use eye makeup to put some pep into our peepers. But make sure you dot your “eyes” and cross your T’s when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy. Not only can cosmetic products trigger allergic reactions or prompt infections, but in some instances, they can even damage the cornea. Exercise caution and follow a few tips to keep your eyes healthy and safe.
- Wash your hands before doing anything near your eyes.
- Over time creamy or liquid eye makeup, and moist dark tubes of mascara, are excellent places for thriving bacteria which can cause an infection. It’s best to throw away eye makeup after three months, or immediately if you develop any kind of infection.
- If you are prone to allergies, test one eye makeup product at a time and add or layer another one if no reaction.
- Don’t share eye makeup and only use fresh applicators when testing eye products at a beauty counter.
- Avoid lining the inner rim of your eyelids, also known as the waterline. While the effect is dramatic, a recent study found that eyeliner particles entered the tear film at a far greater frequency than with other lining methods, making your eye more susceptible to infection. 
- Do not separate mascara-clumped lashes with sharp items such as pins or toothpicks.
- Don’t use craft glitter around your eyes, as it’s larger and sharper than cosmetic glitter. One fleck can scratch and potentially damage your cornea or underlid. If you have dry eyes, avoid metallic/glitter powder altogether, as the flakes can further increase irritation.
- Stay away from false eyelashes; gluing/pulling them off can harm your natural lashes. Allergic reactions to the glue is not uncommon, and the residue can also serve as a breeding ground for germs that cause infections.
- Remove all makeup before you go to bed. Over time your eye makeup may clog the tiny hair follicles and oil glands on your eyelids, causing inflammation or styes.
- Only use makeup for its intended use. While it seems simple enough to use eyeliner on your lips, you can transfer bacteria when you take the pencil back to your eyes.
- Old eyeliners should be thrown away (see three-month rule). Besides bacteria, older tips require more pressure which can increase the risk of injury to your cornea.
- While technically not a cosmetic, non-prescription colored contacts can be very dangerous because they do not account for the fact that not all eyeballs are the same size. Poorly fitted contacts can cause severe complications, such as inflammation, infection, trauma, and even damage to your cornea and eyelids. Only buy contacts from retailers who require a prescription.