Does Makeup Cause Dry Eye?


Dry eyes are becoming increasingly common, with estimates suggesting that around 33 million adults in America suffer from the condition. For many people, the symptoms caused by dry eyes are only temporary and resolve themselves fairly easily. However, for others, they become a constant and chronic part of their day, interfering in their lives.


Dry eye disease may sound like a simple problem. However, it is actually a fairly complex disease that has a wide range of symptoms, causes and treatment options. Finding the best way to manage dry eye disease and relieve your symptoms isn’t necessarily as straightforward as you might think.


Eye Lubrication and the Causes of Dry Eye


Our eyes need tear film to function properly. They lubricate the surface so that we can move our eyes around comfortably and easily and smooth the surface so that light is refracted correctly, enabling us to see clearly. Tears also contain components that heal damage to the surface of the eye.


Contrary to popular belief, the tear film isn’t simply water. Our tears are actually composed of three layers and it is essential that each element of the body responsible for producing each layer is working correctly. If it isn’t, the composition of the tear film will be unbalanced and will not lubricate the eyes properly.


When dry eye occurs, it is usually caused by one of two things. Either the tear film production system isn’t producing enough tears, or the tears that are present aren’t sufficiently lubricating the eyes. There can be many reasons why this occurs. Some of the most common causes of dry eyes include:


  • The natural aging process, particularly when women enter menopause

  • Side effects of taking certain medications such as antihistamines and antidepressants

  • Suffering from a disease that affects your ability to make tears, for example, rheumatoid arthritis, collagen vascular disease, and Sjogren’s syndrome

  • Problems with your eyelids that prevent them from closing as they should naturally


Symptoms of Dry Eye


There are numerous symptoms of dry eye and the severity with which you experience them varying depending on the extent of your condition. They include:

  • Eyes that feel dry and stiff

  • Itchy eyes

  • A gritty feeling or a sensation like there is something in your eye

  • Blurred vision

  • Redness

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Watery eyes, which is called reflex tearing and occurs because the body recognizes the lack of moisture in your eyes and over-stimulates production, causing excess tear film to be produced. However, these tears are primarily made from water and don’t have the necessary ingredients to provide proper lubrication to keep the eyes healthy.


Does Makeup Cause Dry Eye?


Wearing cosmetics is a daily thing for many people. They help to enhance our appearance by enabling us to make the most of our features. For lots of individuals, eye makeup is the key area that they focus on and there are lots of different cosmetics that can be used. These range from eyeshadows and mascaras, to eyeliners that you place directly onto the very edge of the eyelids themselves. Research has suggested that if particles from cosmetics spread into the eyes, and specifically into the tear film, they could make irritation and dry eyes worse. This is because eye makeup can thin out your tear film, making it evaporate much more quickly.


Fortunately, you can help minimize the risk that makeup poses, by following these tips.


  • Apply your makeup outside the lash line rather than inside it.

  • Do not apply mascara from the very root of the eyelashes. Instead, start about a third of the way out.

  • Try and limit mascara application to the upper eyelashes where possible.

  • Alternatively, use fake eyelashes and an eyelash curler! It looks just as effective.

  • If you use eye drops to help manage dry eye, put them in around 15-30 minutes before starting your eye makeup.

  • Try and choose eyeshadows without glitter as those that contain glitter has more particles that are more likely to flake into the eyes.

  • Be sure to remove your eye makeup before bed since this is the most likely time when it will spread onto the eyes themselves.

  • Use gentle eye makeup removers and use a clean cotton pad for each eye to prevent any cross-contamination of bacteria.

  • Keep your makeup applicators clean.

  • Dispose of your eye makeup and replace it with fresh, new products every 3-4 months.




For more information about the effects of makeup on dry eyes, or to schedule an appointment to discuss any symptoms of dry eye that you might be experiencing, please get in touch with our expert team at Grove Eye Care in Richmond, Midlothian VA.

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(804) 353-3937
(804) 888-8998
8048888998 8048888999 14431 Suite B Sommerville Court
Midlothian, VA 23113