18 Ways Your Makeup Might Be Making You Sick

Makeup might make you feel pretty, but if you're not careful, the products you use and way you use them could take a toll on your health.

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You don’t pay attention when applying mascara


If you don’t give your mascara application your undivided attention, you could wind up with something a lot worse than excess black around your eyelids. “Some of my patients get scratches on their cornea from mishandling the mascara wand. It’s something that gets so close to the actual eye that you can scratch yourself if you don’t have a good technique,” says Michelle Rhee, MD, an ophthalmologist with the Mount Sinai Health System.

 You’re a fan of shimmery eyeshadow


If you like to make your eyes pop with flashy eyeshadow, it’s a good idea to spend a little more to ensure your eye safety. “Some of the cheaper brands may have a ton of shimmer or glitter that can separate from the shadow; then it can get in the eye and irritate it if you’re not careful,” says Dr. Rhee. If that happens, flush out the eye immediately and consider switching brands. (These makeup tips will really make your eyes pop.)

Your makeup is made overseas


Beware of makeup products manufactured abroad and imported to the America. These products can become contaminated with harmful bacteria known to cause infections in various parts of the body, such as the digestive and urinary tracts; poor packaging and shipping or storage conditions may be to blame, according to the FDA. U.S.-made makeup can become contaminated too, due to factors like the materials or ingredients used and poor manufacturing conditions. It’s a good idea to pay attention to recalls and safety alerts specific to makeup, just like you would with food.

All your products are discount brands


There’s a time and place for cheaper makeup brands, and any product that you apply directly to your skin (like foundation and concealer) isn’t one of them. “Cheaper products can inflame the skin because they’re often not as cosmetically elegant,” says Mona Gohara, MD, of Advanced Dermcare in Danbury, Conneticut. Look for products that say “non-comedogenic,” which means they’re specially formulated not to clog pores. These are sneaky reasons you're having an acne breakout.

You don’t cater to your skin


If you have sensitive skin, there are certain products you should avoid. “Any cream-based products like BB and CC creams tend to be heavy and more likely to irritate or clog pores than powder-based ones, which aren’t good if you have sensitive skin,” says Dr. Gohara. If you’re acne-prone, some products even contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, two acne-fighting ingredients.

You share makeup


If you and your friends are getting ready for a night out as a group, everyone should bring their own makeup bags. “Sharing makeup can be dangerous, especially eye makeup. You can get eye infections by passing germs back and forth, like conjunctivitis (inflammation of the mucus membranes of the eye), inflammation of the eyelid, and possibly even of the cornea,” says Dr. Rhee. And never use the testers at makeup counters if someone else has touched it before you; if you must sample before you buy, be sure to use a single-use applicator. Pay attention to these pink eye symptoms.

You love eyelash curlers


If your mascara wand just doesn’t give you the eyelash curl that you want, be extra careful when wielding an eyelash curler. If not used properly, you could scratch your eyeball, says Dr. Rhee.

You don’t read the ingredients


Read the makeup label just as you would a food nutrition label at the grocery store. Color additives are strictly regulated and several that are approved for cosmetic use in general aren’t approved or safe for use around the eye area. Check out the FDA’s color additives page for more information.

You don’t clean your brushes


“Theoretically, you should clean your makeup brushes as often as you clean your face, but obviously that can’t always happen,” says Dr. Gohara. Clean your brushes once a week with a mild non-soap cleanser and let them dry overnight. Dead skin cells and other germs can get caught in the bristles and get into your skin as you swirl makeup on your face. Here's what can happen if you don't clean your brushes regularly.

You scrub off your makeup


The skin around your eyes is especially delicate, and scrubbing too hard can lead to popped blood vessels and dark circles. Use a mild cleanser to remove makeup and avoid rubbing too roughly.

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