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    Cosmetic dangers: Part 1-Popular cosmetics patients use


    Cosmetics around the eyes

    Primer eye shadow ensures lid color does not fade or bleed. I recommended primers for my dry eye patients to hold eye shadow on the eye lid and prevent it from falling into the tear film. I particularly like tinted primers which stay on the lid and look like eye shadow.  Eye shadow colors are applied next. These may be powder, which forms the shiny mud you see in the tear film, or cremes, which are less likely to drift onto the ocular surface.

    Eyeliner defines the eyes and subtly changes the eye’s shape. It may be a pencil, liquid liner, or powder. Eyeliner may be applied to the lid below the lashes or along the lid margins. “Tightlining” is term used to describe painting the lid margin and is popular with makeup artists. “Tightlining” should be discouraged because it may clog the glands on the lid margin.

    Related: Clinical performance of a new silicone hydrogel cosmetic lens

    2017 was the “year of the eyebrow.” Females are painting eyebrows rather than going all natural. Pencils and cremes are used to thicken and darken eyebrows to make them seem more pronounced.

    Eyelash enhancements

    False lashes have become popular. They may be glued to the lid margin or surrounding lashes. According to a recent Facebook ad I saw, eyelashes can be even attached using magnets. Eyelashes can be built using fibrous mascara that I suspect is similar to the hair spray you see in ads on TV after midnight.

    After the fake lashes, lash primers may be applied and are typically clear or white. Mascara may be waterproof, non-waterproof, lengthening, thickening, or curling. Mascara comes in a variety of colors and should be hypoallergenic but rarely is.

    Cosmetic removal each day key

    Every night, all makeup should be removed. Not removing all makeup may cause skin inflammation, breakouts, and significantly increase dry eye symptoms. Eye makeup remover should be used rather than baby oil, Vaseline, or soap. Some eye makeup removers still contain BAK and should be avoided.

    Once all makeup is removed, wash face again, apply a second application of astringent, and then a nightly moisturizer.

    Nightly moisturizers are typically thicker than daily moisturizers, and they are more likely to contain wrinkle removers such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and vitamin A. AHA-containing products cause exfoliation or shedding of the surface skin. The extent of exfoliation depends on the concentration and type of AHA, its pH, and other ingredients in the product. Retin-A formulations dry ocular skin and may exacerbate dry eye. 7

    Now that you have a firm foundation of how patients may use cosmetics, Part 2 will discuss dangers found in cosmetics.

    Related: Optometry on fleek



    1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Labeling. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/labeling/. Accessed 1/17/18.

    2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Warning Letters Address Drug Claims Made for Products Marketed as Cosmetics. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/complianceenforcement/warningletters/ucm08.... Accessed 1/17/18.

    3. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations. Available at: https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170111100912/http:/www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2011/ucm257013.htm. Accessed 1/19/18.

    4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations. Available at: https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170111100914/http:/www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2011/ucm251951.htm. Accessed 1/19/18.

    5. Läkemedelsverket. Pharmaceutical ingredients in one out of three eyelash serums. Available at: http://www.dr-jetskeultee.nl/jetskeultee/download/common/artikel-wimpers.... Accessed 71/19/18.

    6. WebMD. Witch Hazel: Uses and Risks. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/witch-hazel-uses-and-risks#1. Accessed 1/17/18.

    7. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.  Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/ingredients/ucm107940.htm. Accessed 1/17/18.

    Read more from Dr. Schroeder-Swartz here

    Tracy Schroeder Swartz, OD, MS, FAAO
    Tracy Schroeder Swartz currently practices at Madison Eye Care Center in Madison, Alabama. She serves as Education Chair for the ...


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