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Can I wear eye make-up if I wear contact lenses?
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 08 March 2021
Wearing contact lenses doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing make-up. You can absolutely apply cosmetics to your eye area if you wear contact lenses, although which type of make-up you wear may contribute to how comfortable wearing lenses will be. Most people will never have any trouble, but if you find you have particularly sensitive skin or eyes, there are options available for you.
When wearing makeup with contact lenses you should make sure you follow these tips:
- Wash your hands before applying your contact lenses.
- Make sure your contact lenses and lens case are both kept clean.
- Keep your brushes clean.
- Avoid using other people's eye makeup as this can cause a multitude of eye infections.
- Don't apply makeup whilst you’re travelling. An unsteady ride can cause you to get makeup in your eye or even poke yourself in the eye, breaking your lens and damaging your cornea.
- Use water-based products. Oil-based products should be avoided around the eyes as the oil will coat your contact lenses and cloud your vision.
- Replace your mascara every couple of months. You should also avoid ‘pumping’ the wand as this can transfer airborne bacteria to the product. This will ensure that your mascara doesn't get clumpy and flake off into your eye.
- Avoid getting makeup on your upper eyelids. Whilst it is common to apply eyeliner to the water line and underneath your eyelashes, this can cause irritated and dry eyes, especially with contact lens wearers.
What type of make-up is best for contact lens wearers?
An increasing number of cosmetics companies aim to make their products more suitable for those with sensitive eyes and skin. There are a few things you should look out for on make-up labels to see if they’re suitable for contact lens wearers. Ideally, they should be hypoallergenic, oil-free, fragrance-free and ophthalmologically tested. We’ve broken down each of these factors and explained why they’re important.Hypoallergenic
Hypoallergenic is a term used to describe products that claim to induce fewer or less severe allergic reactions. While it isn’t guaranteed that you won’t suffer an allergic reaction at all, the risk is much lower than with most other products.Oil-free
Products containing oils can easily block pores and glands. For people who suffer from swollen eyes, in particular, this can be a problem. Blepharitis, for example, is the result of swollen glands. Make-up containing oils can aggravate these conditions. If you are using cream eye shadows for example, make sure they are water-based.Fragrance-free
Whether natural or synthetic, fragrances have a tendency to cause irritation for all skin types, particularly to the eye area, which is very sensitive. Most products wouldn’t have a very pleasing smell if they were fragrance-free, hence why many cosmetics companies include them as ingredients. There are alternative ingredients and processes that may eliminate this, but most companies prefer to add fragrance to please consumers.Ophthalmologically tested
Ophthalmologically tested make-up is made to be non-irritating to the eyes. A group of human participants are usually given the products to use over a number of weeks and any reactions are monitored. If no irritations arise, the product is deemed suitable for use around the eyes.Fibre-free and non-waterproof mascaras
It's best to stay clear of fibre or 'lash extending' mascaras as they can form micro flakes which can get into your eyes. Waterproof mascaras are also a bad idea if you wear contact lenses as they can stain your lenses and can't be rinsed out with water.
Can you wear contacts with fake eyelashes?
It is best to avoid wearing false lashes if you're a contact lens wearer as the glue used to apply the lashes could irritate your eye if it comes into contact with the contact lenses. If you decide to wear fake eyelashes, you should make sure that the glue is completely dry before applying them.
Eyelash extensions and contact lenses
Eyelash extensions have become increasingly popular and people are now opting for this choice as a way to enhance their eyelashes without the use of mascara on a daily basis. If you wear contact lenses, it is recommended to remove the lenses before application and removal of these lashes. This is because the individual lashes can become lose and get trapped behind your lens causing discomfort. If this occurs, you should remove the lens, take out the lash extension and then clean the lens with fresh solution before reinserting it.
Should I insert my lenses before or after I’ve applied makeup?
General wisdom would say put your contact lenses in before. However, if you’re applying loose powder, you should be careful. Consider using cream textured eye shadows if possible. Also, be careful when applying liner close to your water line.
Should I remove my contact lenses before I've removed my makeup?
It is best to remove your contact lenses before taking off your makeup as this will avoid getting makeup and makeup remover on your contact lenses. Our Eye Doctor Lid Wipes are great for wiping away makeup applied directly to your eyelids.
What do I do if my make-up is irritating my contacts?
If you find that wearing make-up irritates your lenses, wash it off as soon as possible and replace your set of lenses with a fresh, clean pair. Seek products that are sensitive on the eye area and make sure you don’t wear your lenses for longer than 12 hours. Eye drops to ease irritation may also help and be careful when applying cosmetics made for the eye area.
Quick links:Summer make up picks for contact lens wearers
How to match your coloured contacts to your hair colour
How to look after your lenses