Eye Make Up Removal 101
Optometrists study anatomy, physiology, optics, pharmacology, contact lens fitting, and how to prescribe for eye and vision problems. But there is no course in Eye Make Up Removal 101 and many eye doctors and their patients do not recognize the problems that can be created by improper makeup removal.
Could eye irritation and contact lens wear problems be caused by improper eye make up removal? The answer is YES!
The ocular surface, which includes the cornea, receives part of its protective tear coverage from small glands that line the eyelid margin. These glands are called meibomian glands and when meibomian glands get blocked or don't function properly, the tear film is more likely to evaporate. By not removing makeup properly, women can disrupt the ability of the meibomian glands to protect the tear film. This causes dry eye symptoms and contact lens problems.
Asking patients how they remove their makeup can truly be an "eye opening experience". First of all many don't remove their makeup - they let it "wear away". Some just used plain water to 'rinse off' makeup. Some use baby oil or Vaseline. Some use makeup removers. One person even told me she used alcohol to remove her makeup because she considered this a "natural" product!
Commercial make up removers, baby oil or Vaseline all remove makeup from the skin around the eye but they will often leave behind a "sludge" that consists of a combination of makeup remover and makeup on the eyelid rim. The eyelid rim is the part of the eyelid adjacent to the cornea, conjunctiva and tear film. Every time someone blinks, the upper lid rim touches the lower lid rim and spreads whatever fluid is on the lower lid across the cornea just like a car windshield wiper will spread across a windshield any debris that is at the bottom of the windshield. We hope that the only fluid on the lower lid margin is the clear fluid produced by healthy meibomian glands. But, if there is makeup or make up removal residue on this lower rim, then the "windshield wiper effect" is spreading particles and oily matter across the tear film. Worse yet, the makeup and makeup removal products can block the meibomian gland "good fluid". This can contribute to dry, itchy and uncomfortable eyes.
So what is the best way to remove makeup?
Well, first let's discuss what we do when we put make up on. It is important to use only NON waterproof eye makeup. Waterproof makeup is too difficult to remove without heavy duty makeup removers. When you apply eyeshadow or foundation, do not use a scatter method with your makeup brush - you can end up with thousands of miniscule particles in the eye. These particles are so small that you may not be aware of feeling something in their eyebut the particles contribute to the feeling that the eyes are dry or uncomfortable and they can disrupt the quality of the tear film. Creamy concealers or shadows will migrate towards the eye, so make sure these are not applied to the very edge of the lid margin.
If you wear light eye makeup, you can easily remove it by washing your face and your eyelids with a gentle soap or cleanser. As you wash your face, simply "shampoo" the area of your eyelids with your fingertips to help remove eye makeup residue. Do this at bedtime and also in the morning. Creamy soap bars or creamy cleansers do not work well for this as they can block delicate meibomian gland openings. Do not use cleansers with "scrub" particles around your eyelids. If your skin is dry, use a mild soapy or foaming cleanser and then add moisturizer to your skin. If you are using an acne type soap (or a facial cleanser that has scrub particles), simply wash your face and eyes first with a gentle soap, and then follow that with the acne or scrub product.
If you wear heavier eye makeup, you may need to use a make up removal product. Do not use baby oil or Vaseline. "Light" makeup removal products are better. The key is that AFTER you have used the makeup removal product, wash your face and gently "shampoo" your eyelids with a mild, non-creamy facial soap or cleanser. And, in the morning, wash your face and eyelids again.
Many people are afraid to wash or "shampoo" their eyelids with soap because someone in their childhood told them they would get soap in their eyes. But if you keep your eyes closed as you gently massage the area with your finger tips, and you are use a mild soap or cleanser, this is not a problem.
Follow these instructions and you may just find that your eyelids and your eyes look and feel better!