Regular contact lens wearers are usually already aware of the every day health and safety procedures to follow to prevent eye infections and maintain healthy eyes when wearing lenses. However, at some point, contact lens wearers may want to wear make up with their lenses. There are a number of things to be aware of, besides every day care routines, to ensure your eyes stay healthy and comfortable.
Firstly, what type of make up should you use? Your favorite make up may not be the best choice. Look for products that have the catch phrases “hypoallergenic”, “for sensitive eyes” or “for contact lens wearers”; that are fragrance-free and oil-free; and opt for pressed-powder products over loose powder. Second, examine the ingredients in make up before purchasing, and avoid any with preservatives such as phenyl mercuric nitrate. Thirdly, avoid any mascara that claims to build eye lash volume or length. These products often use silicone and fibers to achieve this affect, which can flake off into your eyes, causing discomfort and potentially introducing bacteria to your eyes. Fourth, avoid wearing liquid eye liners – as the liquid dries out during the day, small pieces can flake off into your eyes. Soft pencil eye liners are best. Finally, before getting started, check how long you have had your make up. Make up should be replaced every 6 months, and eye make, such as mascara and eye liner, replaced every 3 months.
Before applying make up, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, and then insert your contact lenses. Once this is done, you can begin. Start with your foundation. Apply sparingly to your forehead, cheeks and chin, being careful around the eye area, and gently spread it over those areas. Close your eyes before applying make up over this area, and again when brushing off any excess powder.
The best eye shadows to use for contact lens wearers are liquid, cream and gel products as these are less likely to get into the eyes or on the lenses; however pressed eye shadows can also be used with care. Close each eye before applying eye shadow. If using a powder shadow, gently brush off any excess powder before opening your eye. Apply mascara only to the outer half of your eye lashes, to avoid accidentally touching your eye or lenses. If possible, use disposable applicators for mascara that can be discarded after each use. Otherwise, make sure to regularly clean the applicator wand of the mascara, as bacteria can build up in the make up caught in the bristles. Never apply eye liner on the inner rim of the eye. This is a very easy way for bacteria to enter the eye, and the pencil may scratch or damage your contact lenses, potentially leading to an infection.
When removing your make up, wash your hands thoroughly and first remove your contact lenses, then proceed to removing your make up. Use an oil-free make up remover and avoid anything creamy. Use fiber-free pads, not cotton balls, to remove your make up.
If your eyes are red or irritated, you should not use make up, as bacteria can be transferred to applicators and re-infect your eyes later on. Never borrow anyone else’s eye make up, or share your eye make up, as this can pass bacteria between eyes. If you do get make up in your eye or on your contact lenses, immediately remove the lenses and rinse the debris off. If you have any concerns about wearing make up with your contact lenses, or you think you have an eye infection, you should contact your local eye doctor for advice.