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Don’t let bad beauty habits suck the fun out of Halloween


Whether your Halloween makeup plans are glamorous or ghoulish, incorrect makeup practices are frightful for eye health.

The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

Whether your Halloween makeup plans are glamorous or ghoulish, incorrect makeup practices are frightful for eye health.

The Dry Eye Divas have compiled a FLASH fast checklist to keep your patients’ eyes from looking bloodshot red and inflamed this Halloween.


Costume makeup should be theater- or professional-grade and fresh. Do not re-use last year’s makeup or share makeup with.

Always use a fresh sponge and clean brushes to apply your zombie foundation.

Old makeup has expired and should be buried in the graveyard. Dirty brushes are filled with creepy-crawlies. Beware of the bug and bacteria buildup. Don’t invite Demodex to your Halloween party.

Children’s makeup should also be high quality, and each child should have her own products or at least her own brushes for application.

The Breast Cancer Fund sent Halloween face paints to an independent laboratory looking for the presence of heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).  About 50 percent of products were found to contain heavy metals, and 20 percent of products contained VOC.1

VOC chemicals have long-term complications, including reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and possible carcinogens. These chemicals are terrifying and have no place in Halloween makeup marketed to children or adults!  




Unless you are dressing as Snuffalupagus, just say no to crazy fake eyelashes. If your child wants to be a Sesame Street character, suggest The Count. Plus, the Morticia fantasy eye makeup look is tempting until you consider the terrorizing of the ocular surface. 

If you have dry eye disease, avoid false eyelashes, eyelash extensions, and adhesives.

The lash extensions will funnel the chilly and howling full moon wind toward your eyes and create irritation and extra dryness. The adhesives contains corneal nerve-irritating formaldehyde and volatile chemical-containing fumes. Frankenstein’s laboratory brews the evil witchy brew of meibomian-gland-terrifying toxins necessary to strip the lashes from your lids.


Accent Colors

Use only costume and colored contact lenses that have been fitted by an eyecare practitioner. Consumers have been educated about the risks of vision loss from buying cosmetic contact lenses online, at the local Halloween store, or beauty salon, but remember to educate your patients.

The cornea does not need to be suffocated by the water-hating impermeable cat’s eye lens. Do not share contact lenses or re-use last year’s pair of vampire lenses that have been lying in the coffin for 12 months.

Be careful when applying the contact lenses because bits of eye makeup and glitter may fall onto the lens or into the eye, which will irritate the cornea. Recommend patients use an eye drop to clean the debris from the eye following application to prevent makeup flecks from lingering and irritating the eyes.

Colored contact lenses are great costume enhancers, but they not worth the risk of serious eye infections or possible permanent vision damage.   


No tightlining. No waterlining! The spooky look from black or white eyeliner on your upper eyelid margins (tightlining) or lower lids (waterlining) effectively seals shut the critical meibomian glands in your eyelid that keep your eye protected and lubricated. 

This frightful look is not worth the chemical exposure to the delicate ocular surface and critically important oil glands. Imagine the screams of the meibomian glands as they drown in the dark goo, petrifying like the dead frog in biology class floating in a bath of formaldehyde.   


After the festivities are over, remove all makeup and children’s makeup before collapsing into bed from the night of spirited costuming and frolicking.

If wearing properly fit contact lenses as part of your costume, don’t forget to remove them on Halloween night to avoid looking like the walking dead on the Day of the Dead (November 1).

Avoid liquid makeup removers with high concentrations of preservatives and fragrance. Instead, use a micellar makeup remover wipe, and be extra gentle around the eyes. Make sure that children do not scrub their eye makeup off with soap.

Halloween is a perfect opportunity to learn and teach good makeup application and removal habits.

Avoid vampire eyes

We all know that vampires’ eyes are extra sensitive to bright light, particularly daylight. Their eyes react by watering, and it can be hard to keep them open. Your patients do not want to have vampire eyes the day after Halloween, so remind them to be safe with face paint, keep it clean, and follow the Dry Eye Diva Halloween Makeup FLASH tips.

Keeping the dialogue open about the risks of Halloween cosmetics is important to remember. Patients often aren’t talking to their eyecare providers about cosmetic habits.  This is a great opportunity to educate your patients. 

Remember, just because these products are easy to find over the counter does not mean they are safe, and many products should not be used around the eye due to risk of irritation.

Glamour ghosts and ghouls should be reminded to seek medical attention following the festivities if ocular irritation or redness occur. 


1. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Toxic chemicals found in kids’ makeup products. Available at: http://www.safecosmetics.org/about-us/media/press-releases/toxic-chemicals-found-kids-makeup-products-will-shop-halloween/. Accessed 10/26/17.

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