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7 tips for safer lens wear with cosmetics


A few tips regarding wearing cosmetics and contact lens wear can help our patients wear their lenses with more comfort.

Many contact lens-wearing patients ask their eyecare professional (ECP) about makeup brands, applying makeup, and how this affects their contact lens wear. What we use on our faces likely ends up either on the contact lenses before insertion or in our eyes on the lenses.

This includes facial moisturizers, eye makeup remover, makeup primers, and most importantly mascara. A few tips regarding wearing cosmetics and contact lens wear can help our patients wear their lenses with more comfort.

1.Wash hands before applying contact lenses

Always instruct all patients to wash their hands prior to applying contact lenses. This prevents any type of contamination or possible infections during application.

Previously from Dr. Mitchell: 5 ways to start the lens care conversation with patients

2.Apply contact lenses prior to any facial product

Suggest to your patients that they apply any type of face moisturizers or products after they handle their contact lenses.

Just like discussing washing hands prior to applying contact lenses, it is also important that their hands be free of any products. Our patients likely assume that washing hands, then applying facial products means that their hands are clean.

Their hands might not necessarily be dirty, but that product is now on the contact lenses. Oils and other chemicals present in facial cosmetics can affect contact lens comfort and vision.

Related: Surviving allergy season as a contact lens wearer


3. Eye makeup should be hypoallergenic or ECP approved

Most products from major cosmetic companies have been tested with contact lenses and are deemed safe. However, many patients will ask if a brand is safe, especially if they have had an adverse reaction in the past.

Always make sure the products they use are safe to use with contact lenses and the patient understands the importance of cleanliness and safety when using cosmetics around the eye or when touching the lids or lashes.

Related: How to keep athletes’ eyes healthy in contact lenses

4. Makeup removers

All makeup removers are not made the same and can come in many forms such as liquids, foams, oils, pads, cloths, and creams. Recommend that patients remove their contact lenses prior to using an eye makeup remover.

With most of those products, there is a good deal of scrubbing involved that may cause some concerns with the contact lenses. Some brands that work best with contact lenses are Neutrogena (Johnson & Johnson) and Clinique (Estée Lauder Companies), while typical lid scrubs like OcuSoft (OcuSoft) and Blephadex (Lunovus) work well to remove cosmetics as well. Typically, I recommend the latter two for your blepharitis patients, but they also work well for makeup removal in general.

5. Mascara replacement

Mascara is applied directly to the top and lower lashes with the same brush used daily from the same tube. It is recommended that a single tube of mascara be replaced every three months. Patients should replace their mascara immediately if they contract any type of conjunctivitis.

This three-month rule should also apply to any cosmetic applicators such as eye shadow as well. In addition, brushes used on lids or brows can be cleaned with mild soap and water.

Related: How to establish value in the minds of contact lens wearers


6. Daily replacement contact lenses vs. two-week/monthly

While I think that daily disposable contact lenses are the healthiest choice for patients, not all patients will be open to this option. Because of this we must be prepared to assist even our two-week/monthly wearers.

For your two-week and monthly replacement makeup-wearing contact lens patients, instruct them to put their contact lenses in their hands and rub for at least 20 seconds. This will remove any makeup or debris that has built up. This even applies to solutions that are “no rub” because this step may ensure a cleaner lens, which leads to more comfortable contact lens wear.

7. Case replacement

Many makeup-wearing patients store their contact lens cases in their cosmetic bags. This causes the cases to be covered in makeup both on the inside and the outside of the case.

The cosmetic bag is usually covered in bacteria from the makeup brushes, containers, and bottles. Recommend your patients have a separate bag for their contact lens products. In general, contact lens cases should be replaced every three months.

I receive questions almost daily from patients about cosmetics, face products, and makeup remover in regard to their eyes and contact lenses. Making a list of cosmetic dos and don’ts and printing it out for your contact lenses patients can help them better remember and follow your recommendations and understand why these steps are important to healthy lens wear.

Properly discussing these tips can help our patients wear their contact lenses safely and avoid any complications.


Read more from Dr. Mitchell here

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