The cosmetics industry is one of the most successful markets in the world. For many people, cosmetics are a part of their everyday life. The use of cosmetics can be a very personal and powerful practice, providing a tool for self-expression and creativity. Self-confidence and our own perceived attractiveness and beauty are often tied together, and so cosmetics can play an important role in how we evaluate ourselves.
With so much significance associated with cosmetics, choosing which products to use can be a time-consuming, research-intensive process. The final cosmetic choice and its continued use by the consumer can depend on several factors, including product comfort during wear, which is partly determined by formulation and ingredients. While Western cosmetics go through vigorous safety testing, the user should understand exactly how cosmetics can impact their body, and more specifically, their ocular health. In this post we will examine how beauty regimens affect the eyes and explain why it is important to be more selective in which cosmetics, cosmetic removers, and skincare products we put on or near our eyes.
Now It’s No Wonder That Her Name Means Beauty
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, eyes are known to be one of the most important features in determining beauty, and eye makeup is considered to enhance our appearance most effectively. Known as the windows to the soul, eyes can be highlighted through various types of cosmetic products such as eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. These products work together or separately to enhance the prominence and shape of the eyes, and darken and elongate the eyelashes,2 all of which draws attention to this important facial focal point.
While beauty is only skin deep, cosmetic products can pose a risk to the ocular system through migration of makeup particles onto the ocular surface or through accidental trauma to the eye during application, which creates a direct route for microbes to cause infection.3 Migrated makeup products can cause ocular discomfort, but these cosmetic particles can also have long-term effects on tear film and tear stability,1 which are important measures in dry eye disease diagnosis. Certain cosmetic trends are associated with a higher level of tear film contamination and ocular discomfort, for example eyeliner applied to the inner lash line compared with along the outer eyelash line,1 or mascaras that contain nylon fibers which are prone to loosening and falling.3
Cosmetics should be removed every night before bed with the proper removers and cleansers, which, although applied with the eyes closed, migrate and contaminate the tear film, impacting tear film evaporation and stability.3 Depending on their formulation, cosmetic removers can contain different concentrations of surfactants to help remove these makeup products.2 Surfactants are effective at removing cosmetics on the eyes but can also solubilize the oils on the eyelids and surrounding skin, making that area drier.2 Waterproof cosmetics can require special makeup removers that can be especially harsh on the delicate eyelid skin, removing oils on both the eyelids and the lid margins. Facial cleansers also, when applied to the delicate and thin skin of the eyelid area, can also remove these necessary oils.
After cosmetics removal, skincare products are often applied to the face and eyes for their beneficial effects on the skin. Aging around the eye area is a common concern, and many eye and face skincare products are created to address this issue. These skincare products can contain retinoids and retinoid-based ingredients, which are used extensively in skin care for their anti-aging properties.2 While they are beneficial for the skin, retinoids are damaging to the meibomian glands, and are a known cause of evaporative dry eye disease.6
Tale As Old As Time
While product formulation, application, and removal all have an impact on the tear film and eyelid skin, another factor to consider is the microscopic organisms that can grow, survive, and multiply in cosmetics. Bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic microbes can contaminate cosmetic products, and makeup products can contain preservatives (usually in the form of parabens) to inhibit their growth and reduce the risk of infection.3 Cosmetics contamination is also dependent on factors such as time (i.e. how long the product has been opened) and the number of users.3 Parabens are useful in inhibiting microbial growth but can potentially cause an allergic reaction on the thin eyelid skin5 or cause irritation to the ocular surface. Water-based cosmetics, such as eyeliner and mascara, have a higher risk of microbial growth, although even eyeshadow, which readily binds to water molecules due to its high talc content, is susceptible.3 Cosmetic products should be replaced regularly and by their expiry date to reduce the risk of infection.3
It’s A Beast!
Our eyes are vulnerable to various infections or irritations through microscopic organisms or airborne particles. For protection from these threats, we rely on both a healthy tear film with a working tear duct system to remove particles from our eyes as well as our eyelashes to filter and divert airflow away from the ocular surface. Cosmetics, removers, and certain skincare products can alter the tear film composition, increase ocular debris, contribute to meibomian gland blockage and damage, and change eyelashes’ air diverting properties. These ocular consequences are all harbingers of dry eye disease, a condition that not only affects vision and ocular comfort but also has a direct impact on quality of life.4
Be Our Guest, Put Our Products To The Test
For many conditions that cause dry, red, itchy, irritated, or uncomfortable eyes, ocular hygiene is vital for eye health management and daily cosmetic removal is essential to maintain ocular health. But what if the products you use to cleanse your eyes are contributing to the problem? Daily ocular hygiene is a fundamental practice and I-MED Pharma provides ocular hygiene products that are safe and gentle for dry eyes and sensitive skin. I-LID ’N LASH® is an effective water-based cleanser that has hydrating ingredient to help moisturize and soothe the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as being paraben-free. I-LID ’N LASH® removes makeup and ocular debris without irritating sensitive eyes, nourishes the eyes with hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and continues to cleanse and hydrate as it remains on the skin so there is no need to rinse off. For a deeper cleansing, I-LID ’N LASH PLUS® has the added advantage of containing 5% tea tree oil, which is a safe and effective ingredient used for its powerful antiseptic, cleansing, and hydrating properties.
Ocular hygiene is important for maintaining and preventing an entire array of issues that can impact our health. While cosmetics are often used daily for many reasons that can include our own perceptions of our attractiveness and beauty, it is always important to keep ocular health in mind.
Update August 3, 2022: Since the initial release of this blog post, I-LID ’N LASH® EYE MAKEUP REMOVER has been added to the I-LID ’N LASH® line of ocular hygiene cleansers. This eye makeup remover for dry eyes is clinically proven to remove water-based makeup and is specifically formulated for patients suffering from dry eye disease.
 Wang, Michael Tm, and Jennifer P Craig. “Investigating the Effect of Eye Cosmetics on the Tear Film: Current Insights.” Clinical Optometry (Auckland) 10 (2018): 33–40. https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTO.S150.
 Ng, Alison, Katharine Evans, Rachel North, Lyndon Jones, and Chrinstine Purslow. “Impact of Eye Cosmetics on the Eye, Adnexa, and Ocular Surface.” Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice 42 (2016): 211-220. https://doi.org/10.1097/ICL.0000000000000181.
 Mulhern, R, G Fieldman, T Hussey, J.‐L Lévêque, and P Pineau. “Do Cosmetics Enhance Female Caucasian Facial Attractiveness?” International Journal of Cosmetic Science 25, no. 4 (2003): 199–205. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1467-2494.2003.00188.x.
 Wang, Michael T.M, Irene (Sung Hee) Cho, Soo Hee Jung, and Jennifer P Craig. “Effect of Lipid-Based Dry Eye Supplements on the Tear Film in Wearers of Eye Cosmetics.” Contact Lens & Anterior Eye 40, no. 4 (2017): 236–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clae.2017.03.001.
 Draelos, Zoe Diana. “Special Considerations in Eye Cosmetics.” Clinics in Dermatology 19, no. 4 (2001): 424–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0738-081X(01)00204-8.
 O’Dell, Leslie E, Laura M Periman, and Amy Gallant Sullivan. “Uncover Patient Lifestyle Habits That Lead to OSD.” Optometry Times 8, no. 11 (2016): 24–.
 Ng, Alison, Katharine Evans, Rachel North, and Christine Purslow. “Eye Cosmetic Usage and Associated Ocular Comfort.” Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics 32, no. 6 (2012): 501–7. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-1313.2012.00944.x.
 Amador, Guillermo J, Wenbin Mao, Peter DeMercurio, Carmen Montero, Joel Clewis, Alexander Alexeev, and David L Hu. “Eyelashes Divert Airflow to Protect the Eye.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface 12, no. 105 (2015): 20141294–. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.1294.
 Carson, C. F., K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley. “Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews 19, no. 1 (2006): 50-62. https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006