Our earliest forays into makeup and skincare date back to at least ancient Egypt. The art of coloring and accentuating the space around our eyes has been a popular effort amongst women (and men) for centuries. But like anything to do with the eyes, there can be risks.

Makeup can pose a serious risk to your eye health if you aren’t careful. Read on to make sure your beauty routine isn’t putting your eyes at risk.

Corneal damage

The cornea is the transparent part of the eye that rests in front of the iris and pupil. Its primary job is to help you focus your sight. Since there’s nothing in front of the cornea to protect it, it can be easily damaged by trauma.

One quick mistake with a makeup applicator can leave you with a scratched cornea. This could do permanent damage to your vision if the scratch is bad enough. You are also very susceptible to eye infections when your cornea is damaged.

Bacterial infections

Makeup isn’t sterile, and if it gets into your eye, it will bring with it a whole host of bacteria and other germs. Eye infections range in severity from mild annoyances to serious conditions that could harm your vision. While many can be treated with relative ease, they can be painful as well as unsightly, and it is generally easier to avoid them altogether.

Be sure you always wash off your makeup thoroughly as soon as you are done with it, and never wear it to bed. This will lower your odds of getting an infection.

Other tips for avoiding eye infections include caring for your contact lenses properly, washing your hands frequently and trying to not touch your face or eyes.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions that occur near the eyes are extremely unpleasant. Be careful if you have a history of allergic reactions. Test any new cosmetics on your arm or leg before applying them to your eyes.

You may also want to limit yourself to one new piece of makeup at a time. This way, if you do have an allergic skin reaction, you will know immediately which brand never to use again.

Using makeup safely

All that sounds pretty scary, but don’t panic. We’re not telling you to swear off makeup forever (in fact, we’ve got a whole article right here on how to pair your prescription eyeglasses with the right makeup styles). Just be careful and follow basic hygiene rules and you will greatly reduce your odds of eye damage from makeup.

Here are some easy tips for protecting your eyes from harm:

  • Obey expiration dates

Makeup expires. While every brand is different, two or three months is generally a good guess for when to toss your makeup and start fresh with a new container. And don’t forget to clean or replace your applicators, as they can also fill up fast with germs and bacteria.

  • Go slow and be careful

A lot of eye infections and injuries can be prevented by exercising basic caution. If you’re in a rush, skip the makeup. It’s better than risking your health. And this advice goes double for vehicles. Once you’re in a moving car, put the makeup down because you’re risking serious corneal damage from the slightest bump in the road.

  • Stay outside the lash line

Don’t risk scratching your cornea or accidentally applying makeup directly to your eye. Stay on the outside of your lash line.

  • Be selfish

Sharing cosmetics is a quick way to spread infections. So no more borrowing or loaning out that mascara. And the next time a friend asks you to share your eyeliner, you can tell them your eye doctor told you not to.

  • Buy trusted products

You get what you pay for with cosmetics. You don’t have to start shelling out hundreds of dollars for top of the line products from big name fashion companies, but you should exercise some caution. Cosmetics aren’t as closely regulated as you might think, and the FDA largely relies on companies to ensure their products are safe. Big name brands with a lot to lose are more likely to test the safety of their cosmetics before putting them on the market. (You can find a list of companies that don’t test their products on animals here.)

Concerned? Talk to your eye doctor

If you have any questions about makeup products or the safety of certain procedures (like eyelash extensions), feel free to bring them up with your eye doctor. Maintaining annual eye exams is a great way to ensure your eyes stay in tip-top shape. For more information on how to get the most out of your eyeglass prescription, visit 39DollarGlasses.com.