Contact lenses and make-up, when combined skilfully, can create an amazing look. However, recent studies have shown that a number of contact lens complications are caused by inappropriate applications of makeup. Cosmetics can cause some safety-related problems in contact lens users, as the chemical compounds contained in them are able to damage the lenses and cause eye irritation and potentially an infection. For this reason certain rules need to be followed to make sure no unpleasant complications occur and your eyes stay clear and comfortable.
The most important thing to remember is to wash one’s hands carefully before touching contact lenses, particularly after handling such cosmetics as creams and lotions, because they leave oily traces on the surface, which are very difficult (if not impossible) to remove from contact lenses.
Another crucial rule to obey while using contacts with makeup is that contact lenses should be inserted before putting on makeup, but after using spray products (e.g. hairsprays). This is because soft contact lenses can absorb large amounts of such products, which are practically impossible to remove afterwards. Having your contact lenses in before applying makeup is important for two reasons: firstly, if you insert your contacts after applying makeup, there's a high risk of contaminating them with makeup particles; secondly, lens application often causes tearing, which can ruin your makeup.
Lens wearers should also be careful about the products they use, as not all cosmetics are safe for contact lenses. This applies especially to oil-based products and various powders, whose particles can get under the lens and scratch the cornea, causing extreme irritation. You might need to try to minimise the use of powder products in favour of cream ones in order to be safe. If you can't do that, make sure to always apply powder products with caution and with your eyes closed.
In general it is advisable to use only natural, mild cosmetic products, as the eyes of contact lens wearers are often more sensitive, especially if they suffer from dry eye syndrome.
As a contact lens user, you should not use oily make-up removers, water resistant eye pencils or mascaras, as they can seriously irritate your eyes. You should also avoid applying eye cream on the upper lid or using glitter eye shadows as glitter can get under a contact lens which may result in severe complications. False eyelashes must also be used with caution as the glue that is used to keep them in place could also affect the lens. Instead of using concealer on the eyelids, contact lens users should apply an eye primer before putting on eye shadow.
Applying makeup while contact lenses are already in your eyes also requires certain precautions. Firstly, make sure to always keep your cosmetic sponges and brushes clean to minimise the risk of eye problems. Dirty cosmetic brushes not only shorten the life of your cosmetics, but can also cause skin problems and eye irritation or infection. Secondly, you should start applying mascara in the middle of the eyelashes and not in the inner corner of your eye as this prevents problems with blocked Meibomian glands. Thirdly, eyeliner should not be applied directly on the margins of the eyelids, because this may lead to blocked glands, dry eyes, as well as makeup reaching the tear film and contaminating your contact lenses.
Finally, lens removal should be carried out before washing off makeup. This is because contact lenses could be easily contaminated during such an activity, resulting in the necessity to replace them with a new pair.
If you like using heavy make-up every day, you should think about switching to daily disposable contact lenses, as it may be very difficult for you to keep standard two weekly or monthly contact lenses clean.
Here's a little synopsis of rules regarding contact lenses and makeup: