7 safety tips for mascara wearers

Consumer Reports News: October 22, 2007 06:03 PM

While most mascaras are safe when used as directed, they still carry some risk of eye injury and infection. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

  1. Apply mascara only to the tips of your lashes. If you get it too close to the root, you could block glands on the eyelids that help form tears, and your eyes might not get the lubrication they need. That condition, called dry eye, can be painful or diminish your vision.
  2. Don’t share mascara. The membrane around the eye can harbor bacteria that can easily latch on to a mascara brush. If you come in contact with another person’s germs, you could wind up with conjunctivitis or other infections.
  3. Don’t add liquids to mascara. Tap water, which some people use to thin mascara, isn’t sterile and can allow potentially harmful bugs into the tube. Saliva is also full of bacteria and should not be used to moisten mascara.
  4. Avoid lash-extending mascaras if you wear contacts. The microfibers can become trapped beneath your lens and scratch the cornea, increasing the risk of infection.
  5. Never apply mascara in a moving vehicle. If the vehicle suddenly stops or jerks, you could injure yourself with the mascara brush.
  6. Don’t store mascara at temperatures above 85° F (29° C) or leave it in your car for long periods, since the heat may encourage bacterial growth.
  7. Throw out mascara every three months; by then bacteria will probably be growing in it. Throw it out sooner if it’s discolored, begins to smell, or if you’ve recently had an eye infection, all of which could signal contamination.

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