Have you ever thought about the ingredients in your eye makeup and how they might be affecting your eyes? I think we’ve all thought to ourselves at least once, “If it’s made to be put on my eyes, it must not be hurting them.” Well, unfortunately, that isn’t so. While makeup companies are not trying to directly hurt us, they are more focused on ensuring their products perform in new and marketable ways.

“Our eyes are delicate, especially the skin of our eyelids, and it’s important that we protect them in all the ways we can, including by ensuring our makeup is safe. This might mean not trusting every brand out there,” says Dr. Danielle Gordon, optometrist and owner of Sphere Optometry.

“A lot of us like to enhance the look of our eyes with makeup, so choosing the right brands and using healthy makeup practices will ensure our enhancements aren’t hurting us,” says Dr. Gordon.

Sarah Mitchell is a Calgary-based makeup artist and creator of Cosette Beauty, as well as a clean and green beauty enthusiast.

“Green beauty is important to me in the same way that eating well is important to me. What we put on our bodies is absorbed in the same way as what we put in our bodies,” says Mitchell. “They are interchangeable.”

While Mitchell stresses the importance of choosing the right products, she also notes how important proper makeup practices are, as well.

“I love mascara, but it is a breeding ground for bacteria (cold, dark place),” says Mitchell. She says it’s important to thoroughly remove your eye make makeup before bed, leaving zero trace of makeup. Replacing your mascara at least every three months, is crucial, and Mitchell even suggests buying travel sizes of mascara, so they only last up to two months.

Mitchell also notes that she prefers mascara to lash extensions. “I find dirt and grime get stuck in extensions easily and tend to block glands leading to unhappy eyes.”

Dr. Gordon agrees with Mitchell when it comes to the potential for bacteria in lash extensions and the damage that can do to our eyes. “Often lash extensions, if not cared for meticulously, can be laden with buildup and bacteria that can trigger conditions like meibomian gland dysfunction and blepharitis, harmful inflammatory conditions that affect the eyelids.”

For achieving bright eyes, Mitchell suggests facial rolling, practicing gua sha, and using de-puffing eye gel masks (she prefers ACURE gel masks, which you can find at Community Natural Foods).

Dr. Tanya Gill, optometrist and blogger for We Love Eyes’ Love and Healthy Eyes blog, has pinpointed some ingredients we should ensure we avoid in selecting our eye makeup products.

“Many mascaras are heavily stocked with harsh preservatives to kill bacteria. Many of these unhealthy ingredients are considered toxic to the sensitive skin of the eyelids, and even the eyes themselves,” says Dr. Gill.

The ingredients she suggests avoiding are:

  1. Formaldehyde and Parabens
  2. Aluminum Powder and Coal Tar Dyes
  3. Propylene Glycol
  4. Fragrances

“I think that Victoria Beckham Beauty is winning in innovation right now, when it comes to clean beauty and infusing innovative ingredients into powder eyeshadow and tint formulas,” says Mitchell. Other brands Mitchell loves are Tower 28, RMS, ILIA, and Kosas. “They all have beautiful eye-safe makeup products that I love.”

She also noted the Glossier Lash Slick mascara is another favourite of hers because of its “tubing” quality. “Little fibres attach to your lashes and stay until you rub with warm water to remove, therefore, being very gentle and safe,” Mitchell says.

Finding clean and green products these days is easier than it has been in the past, Mitchell says, so it’s important to do the research and know what you are putting on and around your eyes.

“As a brand, it’s impossible to hide from your customers. You’re either producing products that work which are safe to use, or you’re not, and you’ll be called out for it,” says Mitchell. “As a consumer, you hold the power with your dollar, so use it well, and support the brands that deserve it.”