No matter what you’re packing in your makeup kit, bloodshot and puffy eyes are never beautiful. Eyes are particularly vulnerable to infection and some beauty procedures even put your vision at risk.
While there are literally thousands of YouTube tutorials dedicated to nailing perfect winged eyeliner, when it comes to your eyes, the best beauty advice is dispensed by an optometrist.
Optometrists see first-hand the damage caused by common cosmetic mistakes. Here are my top beauty tips, backed by science:
Watch where you put that eyeliner
Optometrists call the fragile skin around the eyes ‘periocular skin’ and they have a strong opinion about where on it you should apply your eyeliner. There has even been a small study to set the record straight about the dangers of what beauticians refer to as ‘waterlining’ or ‘tightlining - applying eyeliner inside your lower lash line – a make-up technique said to give the impression of dramatic, smoky eyes.
The study quantified the migration of a conventional cosmetic eye pencil in two different locations: behind the lash line and inside the lash line (the waterline).
The results showed the glitter particles of the pencil eyeliner migrated more readily and contaminated the tear film when applied inside the waterline.
This has implications for contact lens wearers and patients with dry eye syndrome or sensitive eyes. Is that smoky eye look really worth it if they end up red and itchy?
Chuck it out
How many people actually abide by the expiry dates for cosmetics?
A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found 97.9 % (43/44) of participants reported using or previously using make-up after the expiration date, with mascara being the most frequently mentioned product.
Yet, the microbiological analysis of 40 mascara samples revealed the presence of bacteria and fungi which can cause nasty bacterial eye infections.
By law, cosmetic manufactures don’t have to put a use-by date on their products. However, you can check a product’s official expiry date by running the batch code through checkfresh.com or apps like Check Your Cosmetics.
Generally, the use-by date for liquid or gel eyeliner and mascara is 3 months. Pencil eye liner lasts about 2 years.
Need a reminder? Of course, there is an app for that, too.
Eyelash extensions – just one of the cosmetic procedures propelled back into fashion by the Kardashians – come with a risk to your eyes.
Namely, infections of the cornea and eyelid, the permanent or temporary loss of eyelashes, eyelid swelling and allergic reactions.
Optometry Australia first raised this issue to its members back in 2010 and since then there has been a steady increase in the number of cases associated with allergic reactions to the glue used to adhere extensions to existing lashes, the loss of natural eyelashes, conjunctivitis and even corneal damage due to tweezer injury.
Repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause tractional alopecia, where the natural lash falls out due to excessive tension and weight placed on the hair shaft. This can damage the hair follicle, which can slow down or cease any further production of natural lashes.
If people must take the risk, they need to ensure that their beauty therapist has been trained in this procedure, that the equipment used has been sterilised and that the environment where the procedure will take place is clean. They should ask their therapist what glue they will use and avoid places that only use formaldehyde-based adhesives as these are often linked to allergic reactions.
If there is any discomfort after the procedure, any noticeable inflammation of the eyelid, grittiness, blurred vision or loss of the natural eyelashes, you should see your optometrist immediately.
Novelty contact lenses
Buying novelty lenses online or over the counter can lead to eye infections, damage, and even permanent blindness.
The surface of the eye is extremely delicate and wearing non-prescribed novelty contact lenses, particularly those from a dubious source, could cause eye damage ranging from mild infections to sight-threatening conditions such as corneal scarring and even blindness.
Contact lenses are not ‘one size fits all’. If people want to enhance their Halloween look with fancy dress lenses, or perhaps change the colour of their eyes for a big event, it is important to make sure the lenses are prescribed by an optometrist who will measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how the eye responds to contact lens wear using a microscope.
The optometrist will then instruct them on appropriate insertion and removal techniques and correct contact lens care to minimise the risk of irreversible eye damage.
This advice is backed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Optometry Australia.
Get your eyes tested
Itchy and sore eyes aren’t pretty. If they persist for more than a few days, see an optometrist.
You may think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting an optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination is the only way to really be sure.
Not only may it lead to improved everyday vision – and quality of life – it could detect that something more serious is going on, and prevent loss of vision.
If you can squeeze in the time to see a beautician, you can manage an appointment with an optometrist.
Find an optometrist in your local area here.