Eye Cosmetic Safety: Important Tips from the FDA

Eye Makeup Image

If you use cosmetics and other beauty products, it’s a good bet you want your makeup to help improve your appearance safely, without causing problems or harm. This is especially true when it comes to products used near your eyes like eye liner, mascara and eye shadow—after all, a mishap with eye makeup could jeopardize your vision in some cases!

Whether you never leave the house without "putting on your face," or you stick to gentle cleansers except on special occasions, follow these important tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help reduce your risk for infection, injury and exposure to unapproved (and potentially harmful) substances. The FDA regulates cosmetics and cosmetic labeling under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.

Eye Makeup Safety Tips

1. Read the label to make sure the product is specifically intended for use near the eyes. Never substitute one type of cosmetic for another—for example, don't use lip liner as eye liner, or blush as eye shadow. If you have a known allergy or sensitivity, be sure to check the ingredients.

2. Keep your cosmetics, applicators—and hands—clean. The majority of eye cosmetics are safe and uncontaminated when you purchase them. However, misusing the product can cause the growth of dangerous bacteria or fungi and lead to serious infections.

Wash your hands before applying cosmetics, especially to the eye area. Don’t share eye makeup or applicators with anyone else. If you use "test products" at a cosmetic counter or makeup party, be sure the cosmetics are only used with sterile, single-use applicators (e.g., clean, disposable cotton swabs).

3. Follow all packaging instructions closely—including those for storing, applying and discarding the product. For example, manufacturers often recommend discarding mascara after 2–4 months, according to the FDA. Don't reuse old applicators or makeup containers, use makeup that isn't in its original condition, or store cosmetics for long periods of time at temperatures above 85° F.

4. Use care when applying makeup to your eyes. To reduce your risk for injury, don't put on makeup in a moving vehicle (even if you aren't driving) or with an unsteady hand. A mascara wand or other eye makeup applicator could scratch your cornea—leading to a serious infection that could cause vision loss.

5. Do not use eye makeup if your eyes, eyelids or area around your eyes is irritated or infected. If you experience eye irritation after using a cosmetic or other beauty product, discontinue using the product. Contact your health care provider if your reaction is severe and/or persistent.

6. Heed FDA warnings about color additives—some are approved for use in general cosmetics, but not for eye makeup. An additive called kohl has been used traditionally in many areas of the world to enhance the eyes; however, kohl is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Products that use the term "kohl" to refer to a shade and don't actually contain the ingredient are safe, as long as they meet other requirements.) A specific concern is that kohl contains heavy metals, including lead, and has been linked to lead poisoning in children.

7. Use special care when applying eyelash extensions or false eyelashes. These products require adhesives to hold them in place. The skin of the eyelids can be particularly sensitive to irritation and adverse reactions. Products to permanently dye or tint eyelashes or eye brows are not currently approved by the FDA.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 28 Feb 2013

Last Modified: 03 Nov 2014