The Popular Eye Makeup Trends That May Be Doing More Damage Than Good

Makeup trends can be exciting to get into and can serve as a breath of fresh air in an already monotonous routine. But some of them can be bad for your health, especially when it comes to eye makeup. Our eyes are sensitive sense organs, and around them are glands, ducts, and tissues that are easily irritated or infected. A prominent one is the Meibomian glands which lie along your waterline. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Meibomian glands produce oils or meibum, which are a major constituent of your tears. The glands can get blocked or infected by eye makeup, causing Meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD. Other conditions that could arise from certain trends and bad makeup habits include conjunctival pigmentation, Demodex mites, blepharitis, and even blindness. 

Applying makeup can be fun and mostly harmless. However, it is important to pause and check the degree of damage these trends could be doing to your eyes. Here are a few you can start your evaluation with.

1. Tightlining might not good for you

Makeup artists and enthusiasts may love tightlining for the dramatic effect it gives the eyes, but many ophthalmologists advise against it. Tightlining is a technique of applying eyeliner directly on the waterline, the line where the meibomian glands are located (per MasterClass). As Dr. Ilyse Haberman, M.D., explains, eyeliner applied directly to the waterline can block the meibomian glands, reducing oil production for tears and causing dry eye (via Ophthalmology Advisor). Unfortunately, your meibomian glands can also atrophy, A.K.A die, or form meibomian gland dysfunction, which can only be managed and has no cure.

2. Using lash serums

Lash serums have gained a lot of popularity online, with brands launching their own lash and brow growth products. However, the risks associated with them can be concerning. The "magic" behind most lash serums are prostaglandin analogs — compounds that prolong the anagen phase, or growth period, of your lashes. The problem is these analogs — which are also used for the treatment of glaucoma — come with risks like hyperpigmentation and orbital fat loss around the eye (per Science Direct). Other risks are blurry vision and irritation in and around the eye (per Divine Lashes). You might want to consider ditching lash serum for some good old coconut oil.

3. Applying glittery eyeshadow

As mentioned earlier, it's best to avoid things getting on or into the ducts and glands around your eyes. Well, eye makeup that could get in includes glittery eyeshadow, which is flaky and has sharp edges. Due to glittery eyeshadow's flaky nature, it can fall right on your eye's ocular surface, into your tear ducts, and irritate them (per AAO). Glittery eyeshadow's sharp edges can also cause micro-tears on the eye's surface, leading to irritation and infections. It is best to not use glittery eyeshadow as often or work to prevent fallout as much as you can. For Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo, who is a renowned ophthalmologist, a much better substitute to glitter would be cream eyeshadows which do not have as much fallout as the powders do (per Coveteur)

4. Mascara might carry risks

Now hear us out; mascara's one of our faves too! Active Skin recommends changing your mascara at most every three months, and for good reason. Besides the preservatives present in mascara which can irritate your ducts, mascara also makes a pretty decent breeding ground for infections, from bacteria to parasites. One of them is the Demodex folliculorum infection, which is an abnormal spread of Demodex mites on your lashes and eyelids. Demodex mites thrive in unclean makeup tools and humid conditions, and your mascara is both when you use it for longer than advised (per Eyes Are The Story). 

Using mascara often can also lead to mascara-induced conjunctival pigmentation, which Dr. Venkateswaran explains happens when bits of mascara fall on the ocular surface and emit pigment. This can cause inflammation and allergic conjunctivitis (via Ophthalmology Advisor).

5. False lashes and lash extensions

False lashes, or falsies, are another favorite in our routine. And while we are definitely not saying you need to ditch them, being a bit more careful where you apply them is incredibly important. Whether through traditional lash glue or magnetic eyeliner, accidentally getting the adhesive of choice into your eyes can be irritating. Lash extensions and false lashes can also weigh down on your natural lashes (per One Stop Lashes). So ensure you apply your falsies, whether glued or magnetic, above your lash line to prevent losing your natural lashes over time.