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How to use eye makeup and contact lenses

Many women prefer to wear contact lenses instead of glasses; and many women also like to wear makeup every day. The only problem with this is that wearing makeup is the easiest way to get particles in your eyes and under your contacts, which can lead to eye irritation, infections, and staining of contact lenses. And once makeup is on your contact lenses, it can be very difficult to get off.

So regardless of whether you wear clear contact lenses every day for work, or occasionally like to splash out on coloured contact lenses for a fancy dress party, knowing how to apply and remove makeup properly—and what kind of makeup to use—is very important. How to use make up and contact lenses

Step 1: Buy ‘eye-friendly’ hypoallergenic makeup

Cosmetic companies have woken up to the fact that the majority of contact lens wearers are women, and have developed makeup products designed for use with contact lenses. Wherever possible, opt for hypoallergenic eye makeup to minimise any irritation that will cause you to rub your eyes.

Step 2: Wash your hands

It sounds obvious, but when we’re in a hurry, we don’t always stop to think about washing our hands before inserting contact lenses or applying makeup. By washing your hands first you can avoid transferring oils, creams and lotions to your contact lenses.

Step 3: Put your contact lenses in before applying makeup

Whether first thing in the morning or before a night out, always put your contact lenses in before you apply any makeup.

Step 4: Apply your makeup carefully

Certain types of makeup work better than others with contact lenses. But regardless of the type of product you use, if you put the makeup too close to your eyes, you’re bound to run into problems. Here are some tips for eye makeup application:


  • Be very careful how you apply eyeliner. You can’t—as is standard practice—apply eyeliner between your eyelashes and your eyes. This allows the eyeliner to make contact with your lenses and eye, and also blocks the oil glands of your eyelids.
  • Only wear waterproof eyeliner, and only apply it to parts of your eyelashes that are away from your eye.
  • Pencil eyeliners are favourable to cream or gel eyeliners as these can dry and flake into your eyes and onto your contact lenses.

Eye Shadow

  • To cream or not to cream? Cream eye shadow is good in that it’s less likely to end up in your eye than a powder eye shadow, but, if it does happen to make it into your eyes, it’s a whole lot more irritating.
  • Water-based eye shadow creams are preferable to oil-based creams.
  • If you decide to use powder eye shadow, make sure you keep your eyes firmly closed while you apply it, and brush any excess powder from your eyes before opening them.


  • Smell your mascara before you use it (you’ll thank me later). This is the best way to find out if the mascara is past its prime. If it smells a little bit like petrol then the chemicals are old and it will be more likely to produce lumps and dry flakes, and even cause a stye or an eye infection.
  • Don’t go for the ‘lash-extending’ or fibre mascaras—these often produce particles that can end up in your eyes.
  • Avoid waterproof mascara as this is very difficult to rinse out or clean from contact lenses.
  • Go for hypoallergenic mascaras.
  • Don’t apply mascara all the way up to the base of your lashes as this can easily end up in your eyes.

Step 5: Remove contacts and eye makeup carefully

Make sure you wash your hands before removing your contact lenses or makeup. Remove your contact lenses carefully first, then your makeup.

Step 6: Replace eye makeup regularly

If you wear contact lenses it’s a good idea to replace your eye makeup every 2-3 months. Avoid using old makeup as bacteria can grow in it and easily get into your eyes causing infection. Also, avoid sharing eye makeup with other people.

Step 7: Consider daily contact lenses

If you wear makeup most days, consider switching to daily contact lenses. Although these are more expensive than regular contact lenses that only need replacing every fortnight, they can save you from getting itchy and sore eyes as well as eye infections like conjunctivitis. So, really, they may well be worth it in the long run.

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