Contact lens wearers who use makeup are more prone to developing eye infections. PICTURE
Make sure loose powder doesn’t get into eyes during application. PICTURE Credit:

Practising caution when applying makeup will prevent eye infections and irritations, writes Meera Murugesan.

IF one is short sighted, there are many things that prove to be an inconvenience but none quite like applying makeup with blurry vision.

If you’re not careful, you may end up with a whole host of cosmetic failures, from smudged eyeliner that looks more raccoon than radiant to botched mascara that draws attention for all the wrong reasons.

For women who wear contact lenses, it’s only logical to put on their lenses before applying makeup but they need to practise caution because when lenses come into close proximity with lotions, powders, oils and creams during application of cosmetics, there will be other problems they have to face.

Contact lens wearers who regularly use makeup, particularly eye makeup, are more at risk of eye infections and irritations so it pays for them to be cautious in both choosing products and in their makeup routine.

From left: Make sure all brushes and applicators are regularly washed; Eyeliner should be applied slightly below the waterline to reduce the risk of infection; Exercise caution when choosing makeup products.


Look for products that are ophthalmologically tested or suitable for sensitive eyes, says Liaw Marn Wan, learning and development manager at The Body Shop.

Terms like “oil-free”, “fragrance-free”, “hypoallergenic” are also important because they mean the product is less likely to contain ingredients which can trigger an irritation.

The Body Shop’s latest “Down To Earth” eyeshadow, for example, is suitable for the sensitive eye area and comes in a wide array of colours.

But Liaw says equally important is the way one applies makeup.

For example, when applying eyeshadow, one must ensure that the product does not enter the inner eye.

During application, start with a little colour first and then build up to the intensity one requires. Also, use a concealer or primer to help the eyeshadow stay in place and not get into the eye.

Always use brushes and applicators which are regularly cleaned to reduce the risk of eye infections.

When it comes to eyeliner, similar rules apply. Many women apply eyeliner directly onto the waterline which can result in blocked oil glands and lead to the development of styes.

If one re-applies eyeliner throughout the day, there will be more and more particles building up and getting into the eye.

Always stick to the rule of applying slightly below the waterline. If one uses a pencil eyeliner, sharpening it (with a clean sharpener) before every application is also important because it means a clean, fresh tip is coming into contact with the eye each time.

When not in use, always ensure that the eyeliner is capped so the tip is protected from dirt and dust.

LEFT: The Body Shop’s Down To Earth eyeshadow is suitable for the sensitive eye area. RIGHT: The Body Shop’s Lash Hero mascara is an eye-friendly product.


When it comes to mascara, Liaw explains that there are many types in the market today that a contact lens wearer can use.

The Body Shop’s Lash Hero mascara, for example, has been developed for everyday use for those with sensitive skin.

Liaw stresses that while there is no particular kind of mascara that is less likely to cause particles to drop into the eye, the way one applies the product is important.

“Don’t brush all the way to the root of your lashes to prevent the product from touching your eyes and don’t leave any clumps, which can flake off into your eyes.”

Whilst minimising the use of lash building fibre mascaras also helps to reduce infections, the way one applies the product is always important.

It’s generally advisable for contact lens users to also avoid false eyelashes or not use them on a daily basis as the glue used to attach the lashes can irritate the eye.

When it comes to the use of powders, Liaw says both pressed and loose powders are fine but it’s advisable to wash makeup brushes regularly to reduce the risk of contamination.

”Hygiene should always be a top priority for those who use cosmetics. Washing your brushes and applicators regularly will help prevent contamination. One should also use cosmetics within the shelf life period indicated on the product,” says Liaw.

Hanging on to mascara which has gone clumpy, or eyeliner and eyeshadow which has expired, is only going to increase the chances of an eye infection.

Another tip is to never share makeup with anyone or re-use makeup after one has just recovered from an eye infection.

It’s always best to throw away products after they have caused an infection to avoid repeat incidences.

Just as contact lens users are always advised to never sleep with their lenses on, women should always remove their makeup before going to bed.

If they sleep in makeup, the friction caused by their face pressing or rubbing onto pillows can easily result in participles entering the eye.

Clockwise from left: Discard cosmetic products once they have expired; Always remove eye makeup before going to bed; Don’t leave any mascara clumps on your lashes which can flake off into your eye.

The result is almost always red, itchy eyes the next morning.

Before removing eye makeup, one should first wash and dry hands and remove the contact lenses.

Once again, Liaw says, use only eye makeup removal products which have been ophthalmologically tested and are good for sensitive eyes.

To ensure better cleansing, soak a cotton pad with the remover and hold over eyes for several seconds to dissolve the makeup and then gently wipe it off.

For further protection, invest in fibre-free pads to remove makeup and not cotton balls. This is because cotton balls have fibres which can get into the eye during makeup removal, especially when one rubs to remove the makeup.

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