“My eyes are red, watery, and I feel my contact lenses get blurrier as the day goes on. What is going on and why is this happening?” Does this sound like you or someone you know? Well these are symptoms of dry eye and one of the most common causes may not be what you think: your makeup!

Yes I know, we want to use makeup to express ourselves, I just want you to do it in a way that keeps your eyes healthy.

USA Standard vs European Standard

To begin, did you know that the United States bans 11 ingredients, while the European union bans 1300! You did not read that wrong. Plus, there are 9 ingredients that are known to be detrimental to human health that are banned in Europe, yet allowed in the United States. These include things like Parabens, lead, phthalates, and even formaldehyde. Yes, the stuff we store dead bodies in can be used in the cosmetics you put on your face.

Tips for Selecting Makeup

Since the cosmetic industry is unregulated much like the supplement industry, how do you know you are picking a product that will not harm you? Let me give you some tips:

Pick Products on the European Standard

As you can see from above, products that follow the European standard will limit your exposure to more harmful chemicals. When looking at brand or product lines, make sure to see what standard they operate under. Companies that want to differentiate their products are not shy about making this known.

Avoid Fragrances

Next, do your best to limit fragrances. Fragrances are proprietary in nature, so the company does not have to reveal what is in them. This increases your risk of being exposed to an ingredient that causes eye and eyelid irritation.

Limit Ingredients

Make sure you are not only looking at the ingredients in the makeup you are using, but how many ingredients are in there. The fewer ingredients there are, the less likely that you will encounter something that can cause irritation.

Common ingredients that cause eye irritation are Alcohol, Argireline (acetyl hexapeptinde-3, Lipotec), Benzalkonium Chloride (BAK), Butylene Glycol, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA), Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde donors, Isopropyl Cloprostenate, Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, and Retinol.

Frequent Replacement (limit preservatives)

In our “bigger is better” world that we live in, this may seem counter intuitive, but you want smaller quantity containers of cosmetics. This will mean you have more frequent replacement. Why is this helpful? Simply put, the more frequently a product is replaced (ideally 3-6 months) the less preservatives are used which limits your exposure.

Avoid/Limit the Use of Full Saturated Colors of Makeup

I know that aesthetically we love the more vibrant and bold colors. They make you standout and provide the look you want. However, these are more likely to have the ingredients you want to avoid. Sticking to nude palettes is the safer option. I understand we occasionally want a bold look, but the more you limit the frequency, the less likely you are going to suffer irritation.

How do Contact Lenses Factor In?

Now realize that contact lenses are sponges for anything and everything in the environment. If you wear your contacts during allergy season when the pollen count is high, you know what I am talking about. Makeup is going to get on your lenses and if you are using the wrong ingredients, you are being exposed directly on your eyes until you take them out or get a new pair.

There are a few companies and brands that do a great job of being eye friendly. These include EyeEco, Eyes are the Story, We Love Eyes, and Twenty /Twenty Beauty.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me and remember, when in doubt, throw it out!