I’m an optometrist – here’s 5 make-up habits putting you at risk of vision loss and wrinkles

MAKE-UP is for making your eyes pop and sparkle, but experts warn there are lots of potential dangers lurking in your make-up bag.

One optometrist has urged make-up wearers to be aware of several common mistakes that could cause wrinkles and even long term damage to their eye health.


How you take care of your make-up and how you apply it can have a serious impact on eye healthCredit: Getty

Dr. Valarie Jerome from Valarie Jerome Optometrists said: “Not wearing make-up responsibly can have an impact on your eye health and vision. 

“It is important to remember that with any irritation to the eyelid margin caused by make-up, you can possibly develop flaky skin.  

“Flaky skin could not only lead to permanent skin changes and damage, but also contributes to wrinkles.

“Cleaning make-up away, using it responsibly and using ‘clean’ make-up as much as possible can keep your eyelids and eyes healthy and feeling good.”

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Eyeliner has previously been linked with blurred vision.

While eye make-up more generally has been associated with dry eye, irritation, scratched cornea and infections.

In severe cases, eye infections can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss.

So what habits could be jeopardising your eyes?

HABIT 1: Applying make-up without washing your hands first

Since Covid we’ve all gotten pretty exceptional at handwashing, but make-up fiends should have been up on it long before the pandemic started.

“Your hands carry a lot of germs that can easily be transferred to your face or make-up tools,” said make-up artist Saffron Hughes, from FalseEyelashes.co.uk.

“Cleanse your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before make-up application, especially if using your fingers to pat in products such as concealer.” 

She adds that this rule “applies anytime your hands come into contact with your skin, whether it’s applying moisturiser or make-up.”

HABIT 2: Forgetting to clean your make-up brushes

How often do you remember to give your make-up brushes a good clean? Be honest.

If you’re anything like us, it’s rarely – which is understandable if most days you only just have enough time to even put make-up on in the first place.

Not keeping your brushes in a hygienic state could spell disaster for your peepers though.

“Make-up brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria and dirt,” said Saffron.

“When you go to apply make-up using an unwashed eyeshadow or eyeliner brush, you are spreading that bacteria onto your eyelashes and potentially into your eye. 

“Grime from dirty brushes can cause breakouts, congestion and skin irritation – and the same goes for your eyes.

“Putting this bacteria back onto your eyes can clog eye glands and could cause an infection.”

The solution is to deep clean brushes once a week by hand, using soap or baby shampoo and lukewarm water. 

Saffron also suggests spot-cleaning them daily, “for optimum removal of any bacteria build-up”.

HABIT 3: Sharing make-up with other people

The teenager in you might love to swap and share make-up with your mates, but doing so can put you and your friend at risk.

“Sharing mascara, eyeliner or any other product that comes into contact with your eyes is a no-go in order to protect them from harm,” said Saffron. 

“When using eyeshadow, make-up is picked up from the palette then transferred to the eye.

“It’s common to go back into the same eyeshadow to build up the colour and by doing so, you’re putting bacteria from your eye back onto the product.”

Add a friend to the mix and you could both end up passing bacteria between you, via the make-up palette.

HABIT 4: Using make-up that’s expired

Make-up might not be food with an obvious use-by-date, but that doesn’t mean it can’t expire. 

Go through your make-up bag and check the labels. 

You might have items you’ve been loving and using for six months (or more!), but Saffron said mascara alone “should be switched out every three months once opened”.

Especially when you consider how important your lashes are.

“Eyelashes frame the eyes because they protect them from particles and dust in the environment that could damage your eyes,” explained Saffron.

Caking them with expired, flaky, potentially bacteria-packed mascara will do them no good.

“When you’re applying mascara or other expired make-up products directly onto your lids and lashes, you’re increasing the chance of problems that could occur,” said Saffron.

She adds: “If you notice a change in texture or look of your mascara, it’s safer to throw it out and get a new one as this could be a sign of bacteria.”

HABIT 5: Wearing make-up to bed 

You’ve had a late night and the thought of getting the cleanser out is just too much, so you throw yourself into bed, full face of make-up and all. 

It just happens sometimes, but alongside the mascara streaked pillow in the morning, not taking your make-up off can wreak havoc on your eyes.

“Make-up removal should always be thought of as the final step in a make-up routine,” said Saffron. 

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“It shouldn’t be skipped, no matter how tired you are. 

“Not removing your make-up can cause irritating particles to clog up the area and rub against the surface of your eye, causing nasty styes, pink eye or other infections.”

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