Mascara and Makeup: Is It Safe For Eyes?

Is mascara safe for eyes? Surely, you have heard this question over and over again. Mascara and makeup sometimes can be the cause of eye infections. But how, you ask? Well, that all depends on our makeup habits. For example, did you know it's important to keep mascara clean? Or did you know just putting it on increases your chances for infection? Yes, even if you're careful it can happen. So let's take a closer look at why this is and what we can do about it.

Does makeup cause eye infections?

Makeup is a great way to enhance your natural beauty. However, there are some ingredients in makeup that can hurt your eyes, or even put you at risk for infections.

There are several ways makeup can cause eye irritation and infection. These include:

  • Using makeup that has been contaminated with bacteria
  • Scratching the eye while applying or removing makeup
  • Using eye makeup past its expiration date
  • Applying too much pressure around the eyes while applying or removing makeup
  • Cosmetic allergies
  • Using the same applicator on multiple people

For most people, cosmetics are safe to use, as long as they are used properly. More serious concerns about cosmetic safety include using mascara that is shared among different people. This can lead to an eye infection known as conjunctivitis, also called pink eye. Pink eye is a highly contagious condition caused by bacteria or viruses. It causes swelling and redness of the membranes surrounding the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. Some symptoms include itching, redness, and discharge from the eyes.

Below are some tips to follow when using common makeup methods: 

False lash glue

If you wear false eyelashes or use eyelash glue, make sure that it's labeled as hypoallergenic. The glue is safe for your eyes as long as it doesn't contain formaldehyde.


If you have sensitive skin, you might be allergic to some of the ingredients that are used in lipstick and lip glosses. Look for products labeled as hypoallergenic if you know that you're sensitive to certain chemicals.

Related article: 15 foods to boost vision and eye health

Eye shadow

Use only cosmetics that are labeled “hypoallergenic” or “noncomedogenic.” This means the products won’t clog your pores or cause allergic reactions.


The FDA says cosmetic pencils, liquid liners, and cake liners are safe for the area around your eyes. But be careful when you apply them because the FDA cautions that the skin near your eyes is more sensitive than skin on other parts of your body. The agency advisers apply makeup gently and carefully in this area to avoid irritation. And remember that all cosmetics should be used only as directed on the product label.


Most cosmetic mascaras are formulated with a combination of waxes, oils, and color pigments. The ingredients are known to be non irritating, but some people report reactions to the additives in the mascara formulation.

If you wear contacts, you may need to avoid certain mascaras that contain pigments such as iron oxide (the black pigment used in mascara). These colors can discolor soft contact lenses. 

Don’t share eye makeup with anyone else to prevent the spread of disease or infection. Don’t use a product past its expiration date, as old makeup can contain harmful bacteria. If it smells funny or has changed color, throw it out. This means the products won’t clog your pores or cause allergic reactions.

Here are a few things you can do to be safe with your eye makeup:

  1. Avoid waterproof mascara and eye makeup
  2. Toss mascara and eye makeup after 3 months
  3. Wash your face nightly
  4. Be gentle with your eyes
  5. Don't combine false lashes and eyelash extensions

These tips emphasize the crucial safety measures you should take when applying any makeup to your eyes. If you’re careful not to poke yourself in the eye, brushing too hard, or forgetting to wipe off your eyelash curler between uses, you’ll be well on the way to having healthy eyes with which to enjoy beautiful makeup.