How to Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely

Two Methods:Safety conscious application recommendationsProper eye makeup care

Poorly maintained and inappropriately used eye cosmetics can harbor germs and the potential for injury. By applying eye cosmetics with a view to good hygiene and proper usage, you can minimize the chances of spreading any infection or germs.

Method 1
Safety conscious application recommendations

  1. Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 3
    Wash your hands before applying eye makeup. Your hands are another potential source of transferring germs to your eye area.
    • Remember that fingers harbor bacteria too. If using your fingers to apply cosmetics to the eyes, make sure to wash them well beforehand.
      Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 7
  2. Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 8
    When trying on makeup at beauty stores, use new disposable applicators only. Using non-disposable ones intended for reuse risks transferring germs and bacteria onto your eyes.
  3. Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 2
    Do not apply makeup while in motion. For example, do not apply makeup when driving, as this can lead to eye injuries such as a corneal scratch (which can lead to infection). Applying eye makeup when in motion also risks stabbing your eye with the applicator, which can cause serious damage.
  4. 4
    Choose eye makeup that is right for your sensitivities and skin type. Getting the eye makeup matched to your individual needs is important––avoid using products just because a friend does or because your favorite movie star is advertising them. You must choose according to your own needs and sensitivities.
    • If you have sensitive skin, it is recommended that you use makeup labeled "hypo-allergenic", "fragrance free" or " for sensitive skin". This should help to reduce the chance of experiencing an allergic reaction. However, be aware that even these labels don't necessarily mean that you won't have a reaction––you may need to test different brands or even discuss your reactions with a dermatologist or eye care specialist.
    • It is highly recommended that you avoid using anything considered to be “multi purpose make-up”. This refers to makeup such as color sticks intended for use as lip color, blush and eyeshadow. This type of makeup is a sure-fire way to introduce bacteria from your mouth and nasal region direct to your eyes, where the infection can be end up being much more severe.
    • Do not use eyeliner on the inner lids; to do so is to give the makeup direct access to your eye, increasing the chances for infection or allergic reactions.[1]
    • Avoid glittery and iridescent products. As pretty as these seem, they can scratch and irritate your eye, leading you to rub them and potentially spread infection. Once in a blue moon might be okay but don't use this type of makeup regularly.[2]
      Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 9
  5. Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 4
    Be savvy about what you're using. Not all eye makeup is made equal––the more ingredients that you don't know about, the more wary you should be about the product. Seek products that carry a full disclosure of their contents and that certify that the ingredients used are non-toxic and not harmful with long-term use. If your current eye makeup lacks this information, do some online research. One reliable source to find such information is the Cosmetics Database found at: This site can tell you which ingredients in eye cosmetics and makeup removers contain ingredients that are thought to be harmful to your health.[3]
    • Be very careful if using "natural" or "preservative-free" cosmetics. Without any preservative, bacteria will thrive. Such products should be stored somewhere cold, perhaps the refrigerator, and used quickly. Read the labels carefully to check for other storage directions.[4]

Method 2
Proper eye makeup care

  1. 1
    Care for your makeup. Poorly maintained eye makeup can harbor bacteria and fungi. If shared, it may also be a source of transferring viruses and other infections. Good care for your eye makeup includes:
    • Keep all brushes and applicators cleaned on a regular basis.
    • Replace eye makeup that hasn't been used every three to six months.
    • Avoid trying to make eye makeup go further by the addition of other substances––you risk creating unknown reactions, such as allergies or rashes.
    • Close make-up containers tightly after using them each day. This keeps the product in a good, safe condition for a longer period of time.
    • Keep eyeliner pencils sharp; this helps to avoid digging into or scratching at your eyes.[1]
      Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 1
  2. Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 5
    Store your eye cosmetics with a view to preventing spoilage. Store in a cool, dry and dark place away from direct sunlight. Keep your cosmetics away from extreme heat or cold, as these extremes tend to break down the preservatives and can speed up bacterial growth. Keep eye cosmetics out of your hot steamy bathroom and other humid areas––the damp heat breaks down the preservatives and the moisture provides a happy place for bacteria to live.[2]
  3. Image titled Apply Eye Cosmetics Safely Step 6
    Replace brushes and sponges regularly. It is recommended that you replace these items every two to three months. This vigilance will help to thwart the spread of infections like ringworm, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and sties.
  4. 4
    Avoid sharing any eye makeup with other users. You can never be sure what infections might be transferred this way––the person sharing with you may not even be aware that she or he has an infection. It is not an indication of lacking trust––it's common sense and good precaution.


  • Remove eye makeup every night before going to sleep. Never sleep with eye makeup on, regardless of what the movie actors seem to do!


  • Don't use eye makeup if you have an eye infection; throw away all products you were using when you discovered the infection and consult a physician immediately.
  • Latisse is a product used to produce longer eyelashes. Side effects of Latisse can include:
    • Some degree of lowered intraocular pressure, although not clinically significant, can occur
    • Unequal hair length, thickness, direction, pigmentation can occur
    • Ocular irritation
    • Dry eye
    • Skin hyperpigmentation (bimatoprost)
    • Erythmia of the eyelid (skin redness)
    • Conjunctival hyperemia (vasodilation)
    • Pruritis (itching)
    • If pregnant: safety during pregnancy has not been established
    • If breastfeeding: not known whether medication enters breast milk
    • Not recommended if under eighteen years of age, as no information regarding safety and efficiency has been established.
  • Don't use imported eye cosmetics containing illegal color additives. In the United States, the use of color additives for cosmetic use has been linked to lead poisoning in children.
  • Stop using any eye cosmetic that causes irritation, immediately. See your doctor or eye specialist for advice.
  • Never dye your eyebrows or eyelashes; an allergic reaction can cause eye infection and even blindness. Also, avoid permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes. This permanent process has caused documented serious eye injuries, including blindness. Moreover, the FDA has not approved any dyes for this process.[4]
  • Image titled Eye shadow palette
    Never share make-up. Doing so increases the risk of contamination and can transfer infectious bacteria from one person to another. Other people's bacteria may be hazardous to you.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean, dry and cool storage area for eye makeup
  • Freshly changed brushes and applicators, every 2-3 months
  • Updated eye makeup suited to your skin and eye sensitivities, replaced every 3 to 6 months

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Eye Makeup