‘I’ve Been an Ophthalmologist for 25 Years, and These Common Beauty Practices Are Messing With Your Eye Health’

Photo: Getty Images / Antonio Saba
The thin skin around the eyes is among the most delicate on your whole body, which means it's the first area where you'll notice signs of aging. And because your eyes themselves are an orifice, they're highly vulnerable to the products you put around them. In fact, the chemicals involved in certain makeup products and beauty services can damage your eyes, explains Diane Hilal-Campo, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist in New Jersey.

"The eye cosmetics industry is not well regulated," says Dr. Hilal-Campo, founder of eye-friendly cosmetic brand Twenty/Twenty Beauty. "A lot of these ingredients can be damaging to the structures of the ocular surface, cause inflammation, and contribute to dry eye. Although dry eye sounds innocuous, your eyes are more susceptible to infection and vision impairment when they lack adequate moisture."

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As an eye surgeon, there are some beauty practices Dr. Hilal-Campo would never do. Read about them below.

Ophthalmologist beauty tips to follow for optimal eye health

1. Avoid tightlining

Tightlining involves lining your water line (the line of skin between your eyelashes and your eyes) with eyeliner. The wet line is home to the meibomian glands that keep your eyes moist. "You're only born with a certain number of them, and they're very delicate," says Dr. Hilal-Campo. "When you block the glands using tightlining, you're preventing the oils from coming out and killing the glands. Once these glands are dead, they don't regenerate."

If you regularly tightline and experience dry eye, it's best you give up the practice. "Those who tightline, if you tell them to stop tight lining, the dry eye gets better immediately," says Dr. Hilal Campo.

2. Be cautious with eyelash extensions and false lash strips

Dr. Hilal-Campo isn't a fan of lash extensions. "The adhesives have formaldehyde that can damage the meibomian glands," she says. Additionally, the adhesive can break off the lashes, causing even shorter lashes and leading to a dependence on extensions that can be hard to break. If you're going to get lash extensions, she recommends going to an eye spa run by an optometrist. "A lot of optometrists are opening eye spas," says Dr. Hilal-Campo, where there's an aesthetician who does the lash extensions and if they notice any eye or lash health issues, she can refer them right to the in-house optometrist.

If you're wearing lash extensions, it's important to keep them clean. "I see terrible infections at the base of the lashes of eyelash extension wearers because they don't clean them," says Dr. Hilal-Campo. This can be tricky because some ingredients like oils and micelles can weaken the adhesive and cause your extensions to fall off. That's why Dr. Hilal-Campo recommends using the Twenty/Twenty Beauty Easy on the Eyes Calming Face Mist with Hypochlorous Acid ($42). "Put some on a cotton round or on a microfiber cloth and scrub the base of the lashes twice a day," she says.

And if reading all of this has you considering swapping lash lifts for regular strip lashes, Dr. Hilal-Campo says they're not any better. "The glues are not good for your eyes," she says.

3. Stear clear of lash lifts

Lash lifts use chemicals to break down the disulfide bonds in your lashes to then reshape so the lashes have a more lifted curl to them. "They're very bad for you, the chemicals are terrible," says Dr. Hilal-Campo. "If you're going to have it done, don't do it yourself at home. Because putting these chemicals with your eyes open, on your own eyes, is not good. I would not recommend doing them at all though really."

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