Beauty doesn’t come cheap, but sometimes the costs are quite a bit higher than they should be. An awful lot of the products we use to keep ourselves looking our best might not always have us feeling our best – case in point, makeup. Makeup can easily irritate the eyes and even clear the way for potentially serious infection.
One of the first pieces of advice most makeup users often receive is to always make sure to remove the daily application. And it’s invaluable advice, but there’s a catch.
Makeup remover is necessary, but comes with a couple of caveats. Wind up with the wrong product or the wrong application and you could easily wind up doing more damage to your eyes than you would by just leaving products on your face. We’ll get into some basic guidelines for healthy makeup use and also help you select a makeup remover that won’t leave you in the lurch.
While most people who use makeup will never experience any problems with it, there are a few eye damaging risks to be aware of. One of the more serious injuries is a corneal abrasion, which occurs when a fingernail or application device scrapes across the front of the eye. The resulting injury can become infected and, in a worst case scenario, can even cause loss of sight in the eye.
While nearly all cosmetics do contain preservatives to prevent the growth of bacteria, they’re not infallible. Bacteria can and will grow in various products, but there are few fairly simple precautions that can prevent it. Consistently swapping out products reduces the odds of growth and, while you may be tempted to share certain products, keeping your cosmetics exclusive means that you’re not risking having a friend leave you a little microbial gift.
As you might guess, other external sources of contamination should be avoided – sneezing into an open container is a fairly obvious example, but plenty of people don’t think twice about applying lipstick after eating, a seriously poor decision.
And those preservatives we mentioned earlier? They can be a problem too. Most products will use parabens, a relatively innocuous class of chemicals that shouldn’t be a problem for the vast majority of users. Some people, however, do have paraben allergies. If you notice yourself with itchy, inflamed skin, or red patches after applying makeup, you may be dealing with a reaction.
Some other products may also contain different preservatives, such as nickel, Rosin, and lanolin. These are, again, largely safe, but can still cause problems for small percentages of the population.
And while these worries might not have any direct bearing on the importance of removing makeup before bed, a few others do…
Sleep generally offers a chance for our entire bodies to rebuild and recover from an active day. Makeup can complicate at least part of that procedure – all the pollution, sweat, and grime that builds up over a day is captured by makeup. Failing to remove it before sleep means that you’re exposing your skin to an overnight load of potentially nasty materials.
Some dermatologists even claim that free radicals collected by makeup can break down collagen, leading to premature wrinkles. Other reasons are more prosaic. Sleeping with makeup on greatly increases your risk of acne, as leftover cosmetics can clog pores, creating perfect environments for pimple-producing bacteria.
And yes, your eyes suffer as well. While the points we’ve covered so far might seem to apply mostly to foundations, primers, and similar products, mascara and eyeliner can still cause their share of issues. Makeup rubbed off by pillows, blankets, or just an inadvertent swipe of the hand can wind up in the eye, where they’ll cause considerable irritation. Even if they stay put on the eyelid and surrounding skin, they can still clog tiny follicles there.
As with the rest of the face, these areas can become infected, producing bumps known as styes. While styes occasionally resolve without any intervention, a serious case may send you running to a doctor’s office for an expensive treatment.
Choosing the Right Makeup Remover
Unfortunately, the solution to the above risks can also put your eyes in danger. A wide range of commercially available removers can irritate and damage eyes, which rather defeats the purpose of using them, if you ask us.
When selecting a remover, avoid foaming options. These likely contain an agent known as sodium lauryl sulfate. You’ll often find it in hand soaps, but it has no place being used next to your eyes – sodium lauryl sulfate can dry out the skin around your eyes, irritating them and paving the way to infection.
Also watch out for anything that contains ingredients known to clog pores. Petroleum jelly is one of the worst, most common offenders. In general, you’ll probably want to avoid anything containing unnecessary fragrances or preservatives. The cosmetic industry is big on dressing products up, but when we’re talking about eye safety, stripped down is the way to go.
Some of the more popular options for makeup removers are relatively gentle oils. Some people even prefer to stick to simply swabbing olive oil, though we can’t say that we’ve tried it ourselves. If you are after a more eye-attuned remover, you will find plenty of resources online. Check around and you’ll find plenty of options and advice, and trust us when we say your eyes will thank you.