A big part of your morning beauty routine probably involves a swipe or two of mascara across your eyelashes. What healthy hazards lurk in that little tube in the cosmetic bag?
Thankfully, our mascara today does not contain some of the dangerous ingredients that it did in the thirties such as turpentine, coal dust, Vaseline or the hair-dye ingredient, aniline. Mascara ingredients today are regulated, and most brands contain common elements: pigments that darken lashes, polymers that coat them, and waxes or oils intended to thicken the lash. However, according to WebMD, “The Makeup of Makeup: Decoding Mascara,” thimerosal is used as a preservative and has been associated with conjunctivitis and eyelid dermatitis.
Additionally, even though the ingredients in mascara are approved by the FDA, use cautiously if you have hyper-sensitive eyes, wear contacts or experience seasonal allergies.
Eight Mascara Rules for Eye Health
To use mascara safely, follow these eight common sense rules:
1. Be careful during application. WebMD tells us that the most common cosmetic injury is caused by a mascara wand scratching or poking the eye. If a scratch to the eye goes untreated it can lead to infections that can cause ulcers on the cornea or even blindness. To avoid injury, slow down and apply mascara with a steady hand. Apply in front of your bathroom mirror — never in a moving vehicle!
2. Keep mascara tightly closed and out of sunlight. The U.S. FDA recommends keeping the preservatives in the tube and dust and sunlight out!
3. Wash your hands before using. Your eyes are sensitive and can become easily irritated or infected. Wash your hands before applying mascara just like you do before eating!
4. Never use spit! If you are away from your makeup area and running water, never touch the bristles with your fingers or be tempted to use saliva to moisten them. In fact, most mascara manufacturers advise against adding any additional moisture or ingredient into the tube. Even though mascara contains preservatives intended to kill bacteria, mascara can become contaminated when not handled safely.
5. Don’t use mascara if your eye is irritated or infected, because you might worsen the irritation as well as contaminate your mascara. To be safe, toss your current mascara if you have an eye infection and wait until it clears up to apply from a fresh tube.
6. Remove mascara nightly. Mascara should be removed before bedtime to avoid it flaking into the eyes during sleep which can cause bloodshot eyes and infections.
7. Don’t share mascara wands! Sharing mascara with your BFF is not a sanitary practice, and think twice before using that tester in the cosmetic store!
8. Buy new mascara every 90 days. The U.S. FDA website outlines the shelf life for makeup and recommends tossing mascara three months after opening it.
Alluring Bette Davis eyes may be important for your image, but safe mascara handling can prevent eye discomfort or worse. Be smart and always err on the side of caution when it comes to mascara and your eyes.
U.S. FDA: Use Eye Cosmetics Safely