Pediatric and Teen CL Care

Makeup and Teens

Pediatric and Teen CL Care

Makeup and Teens



Bright-eyed children become glitter-eyed teens. It is important to talk to our teenage patients about proper makeup application to keep them safe and healthy contact lens wearers.

Many of us, however, feel awkward having this conversation, or perhaps don't know the tips (I'm picturing my husband offering makeup tips to adolescent girls). So here's a makeup tips sheet that you can tweet, Facebook, e-mail, print, or (gasp) talk about with your teenage patients.

Top Ten Do's and Don'ts

Makeup can affect the comfort and safety of your eyes, especially when you wear contact lenses.

Here are some general rules regarding makeup health and safety:

1. Never share makeup. Pink eye is not a good look on anyone. We all are covered in microbes. This is normal, but the germs that grow on your friends' skin may not be the same as your own, and can cause infections.

2. Toss your mascara every three months, even if you think it's still good. Germs can get into the tube and grow. Dry or powdered makeup can last up to two years. If you get an infection, however, throw everything away. Contaminated makeup will keep making you sick.

3. Apply mascara from the midpoint of the lash to the tip, but avoid putting mascara on the base of the lash (Figure 1). This minimizes contamination and prevents clogged glands. Use waterproof mascara and avoid fiberbuilding formulations to prevent flakes, which can get into the eye and stick to contact lenses.


Figure 1. Corneal abrasion from a mascara brush scraping the cornea.

4. Apply eyeliner above the base of the upper eyelashes and below the base of the lower lashes, but do not apply it on the eyelid margins. Putting liner and mascara on the eyelid margins will clog the oil glands and will make the tear film unhealthy, eventually causing dryness and blurred vision.

5. Avoid unpleasant reactions by using mineral makeups, which are free of preservatives, parabens, mineral oil, chemical dyes, and fragrances.

6. Keep the glitter on your fingernails, but avoid it on the eyelids. As pretty as it is, glitter particles can fall into your eye, potentially causing painful abrasions (Figure 2).


Figure 2. Corneal abrasion from glitter makeup stuck under a contact lens.

7. Remove makeup every night and after removing your contact lenses. Makeup removal is essential to healthy skin and avoiding breakouts. However, you don't want makeup run-off getting onto your contact lenses.

8. Apply perfumes and hair-sprays before applying your contact lenses. You don't want these chemicals sticking to or dissolving into your contact lenses. Some aerosolized chemicals can cause some pretty nasty burns or discomfort when kept in contact with the eye.

9. Apply makeup after the contact lenses are applied. This prevents makeup from getting trapped under the contact lens.

10. Most Importantly! Wash your hands after applying hairspray and before applying or removing your lenses, even if they look and feel clean. Any chemicals, dirt, or germs on your fingers will get into your eyes.

Help teens develop good makeup habits early. CLS

Dr. Sindt is a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology and director of the contact lens service at the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. She is the past chair of the AOA Cornea and Contact Lens Council. She is a consultant or advisor to Alcon Vision Care and Vistakon and has received research funds from Alcon. You can reach her at