Makeup and Uveitis

We’ve all been staying home for a few weeks now and likely have heaviness in our hearts, so I thought I’d write about a less serious topic. [If you feel like you want to read about COVID-19 as it relates to eye health, head to the homepage where I’ve added a section with coronavirus related links.]

A question I’ve seen come up in online groups is: “should I wear eye makeup if I have uveitis?” Frivolous and unimportant to some, but a valid question for a lot of us!

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

First off, can makeup cause uveitis? No. Uveitis is not an infection and is not caused or exacerbated by wearing eye makeup. Some forms of uveitis are caused by systemic infections or diseases, but that’s a different topic, discussed here.

If you have dry or sensitive eyes, wearing eye makeup may worsen that condition, particularly dependent on the ingredients in the makeup (Impact of Makeup on Dry Eye Disease).

If you’re wearing expired makeup, using dirty brushes or applicators, or sharing makeup, there is a risk of infection or conjunctivitis. This is not fun in itself, (who has toddlers with pink eye?! just me?) but when you have uveitis, it can complicate matters.

For example, those of us who’ve had a trabeculectomy run the risk of blebitis. I once got the worst case of conjunctivitis on a trip to the ocean (see previous sentence about toddlers). I had to go into the doctor to make sure my bleb had not been affected. Luckily it had not. Any opening on the surface of the eye leaves room for infection to enter the eye.

Should you get an infection, it is advisable to throw all of your eye makeup away and start fresh. If you wash your brushes exceptionally well, keep them. When in doubt, toss them too. This is inconvenient and expensive (or an excuse to go shopping…). Sometimes infections are inevitable, but the best way to avoid them is to keep your makeup and tools clean and Do. Not. Share.

I’ve always loved wearing makeup and being diagnosed with uveitis hasn’t changed that. It has, however, changed a few of my makeup related behaviors.

“No makeup” times

Let’s start with when I don’t wear eye makeup. 1) I don’t wear eye makeup to my ophthalmology appointments. 2) I don’t wear makeup after eye surgery until my eyes have healed and I’ve had follow-up appointments. 3) I don’t wear eye makeup after injections until my course of associated antibiotic drops is complete. If I have a hemorrhage, I typically wait until that has cleared before I start wearing eye makeup again. If I had anterior uveitis, I probably wouldn’t wear eye makeup when I was having a flare.

Keep it clean

When I wear eye makeup, I wear clean (as in, non-toxic) makeup. I used to just purchase what was trendy and in cute packaging. Now I research extensively before buying any of my cosmetics. Glitter is out since being diagnosed with uveitis. I don’t buy anything with parabens or phthalates (endocrine disruptors). I check for trimethanolamine (TEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) in mascara and eyeliner. TEA and DEA are ethanolamines that break down into nitrogen, which can form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic (may cause cancer), according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Safecosmetics.org.

Another ingredient that I personally avoid, but is very pervasive, is talc in eye shadow. According to the EWG, some talc contains carcinogenic asbestos, although it’s required by law to be asbestos-free. Unless you can verify the talc is asbestos-free, it should be avoided. Talc is also an irritant of the eyes for many people (Is talc in makeup safe?).

Ilia Beauty – The Necessary Palettes (Talc Free)

These are my current favorite clean makeup brands:

Ilia Beauty – The Necessary Eye Shadow Palettes, Clean Line Gel Liner, Limitless Lash Mascara,

Jane Iredale – Pure Pressed Eye Shadow, Eye Pencil, PureLash Mascara

Mineral Fusion – Eyeshadow Trios, Eye Pencil, (didn’t love the mascara)

Thrive Causemetics – Infinity Waterproof Liner, Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara, (eye shadow contains talc as the second ingredient)

Tarte Cosmetics – Lashpaint Mascara, (eye shadow contains talc as the second ingredient)

I.T. Cosmetics – Talc-free eyeshadow

Out with the old

I previously mentioned not using expired makeup. Throw out mascara every 3 months (I attempt to sync mine with changing seasons so it’s easy to remember). Toss eyeliner once a year and eye shadow at least every two years. (When to Throw Away Your Makeup, According to a Dermatologist). If it looks bad, smells bad or you can’t remember when you bought it, it’s probably time to say goodbye.

Additional tips for How To Use Cosmetics Safely Around Your Eyes

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