Cosmetics & Your Eyes

For many of us, applying cosmetics is just part of the morning routine, but it’s easy to forget that eye makeup can cause unwanted problems.

It’s easy to hold onto a favourite eye liner for too long, but the growth of bacteria and hardening of cosmetics can introduce infection or cause irritation.

A broad rule of thumb is to dispose of eye makeup every three months, but we’ve looked at this a little more closely and these rules are good ones to follow:

Eye Makeup Shelf Life

  • Discard mascara every four to six months (best not to wait for it to smell “off” or to become clumpy)
  • Eye concealer is usually good for up to a year
  • Liquid eye liner shouldn’t be kept beyond six months
  • Pencil eye liner can last up to a year, and regular sharpening will help to shed bacteria
  • Eye shadow in powdered form can last up to one to two years, and will last longer if you use a clean applicator for every use (disposable cotton swabs are great)

You should also remember to:

  • Never share eye makeup
  • Clean your makeup brushes and sponges regularly (weekly is good)
  • Keep cosmetics in a cool, dry spot out of direct light

Still hanging onto a favourite eye shadow from last decade? Definitely time to pitch it.

Eye infections

If you develop an eye infection, be on the safe side and replace any cosmetics you use around your eyes. The risk of re-infection is just too high.

Applying eye liner along the inside of your eyelid (“waterlining”) is also best avoided. Doing this blocks oil glands which are there to protect the cornea of your eye. It’s also a much faster route to introducing bacteria to your eye.

Harmful ingredients

Finally, make sure the products you choose to apply to your eyes are safe. Did you know that Health Canada maintains a cosmetic ingredient hotlist? It’s a good idea to check out this list of restricted and prohibited ingredients if you’re not sure about a product.