24 Jul 2017Eye Health

Did you know that eye make-up can be ground for bacteria?

Did you know that eye make-up can be an eye-watering breeding ground for bacteria, especially your mascara?    

One study found bacteria in 30% of mascaras tested after three months of use^1^. In a separate study, 79% of used mascaras tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus and 13% were contaminated by Pseudomonas aeruginosa^2^. The amount of bacteria within a product is related to the amount of use, the age of the product and the number of users.

This is perhaps unsurprising given that a study by the College of Optometrists revealed that over half of make-up users don’t check their cosmetics for their use-by date, with almost a fifth not even being aware that they can carry use-by information^3^.

The consequences of this laisse-faire approach can cause havoc with our eyes. Using eye make-up around the lashes and lid margins can lead to increased risk of infection and injury if we do not take care. By using old products past their use-by date, sharing make-up, applying make-up with applicators whilst on the move or not cleaning the make-up off the eyes properly can lead to ocular discomfort.

What’s more, eye liner that is applied to the inside lid margin (the wetter part of the margin) can contribute to blocking some important glands that are part responsible for providing the eyes with a healthy tear film. If this happens it could lead to eye issues such as dry eye, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid), eye infection or a stye.

Bausch + Lomb’s Top Tips on Eye Health with Make-up



  • Look for the symbol on your make-up which says how long you can use it for. As a rule of thumb, eye make-up should not be worn after 3 months.  Sometimes it can be hard to remember when you bought it, so why not attach a sticker to it noting the date of purchase or set a reminder on your phone for three months later


  • Do not share make-up with anyone
  • Clean eye make-up brushes regularly
  • Be careful not to apply eye make-up while on the move, such as in a car or bus, as the eye can get injured
  • Always remove make-up carefully and thoroughly
  • Always wash and dry hands prior to applying and removing make-up
  • Seek medical advice for any eye irritation or infection resulting from using any make-up; new or old

  1. Pack LD, Wickham MG, Enloe RA, et al. Microbial contamination associated with mascara use. Optometry (St Louis, Mo). 2008 Oct;79(10):587-93 
  2. Giacomel CB, Dartora G, Dienfethaeler HS, et al. Investigation on the use of expired make-up and microbiological contamination of mascaras. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2013 Aug;35(4):375-80 
  3. Consumer survey undertaken by Censuswide on behalf of the College of Optometrists, May 2015. 1,039 women, who regularly wear mascara, were surveyed
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Did you know that eye make-up can be ground for bacteria?
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