A woman applying makeup.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association, eye makeup is one of the most common sources of problems for contact lens wearers. However, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice looking your best in order to see clearly. Knowing how to pick the right kind of cosmetics and learning how to apply them correctly can make all the difference. The following product guide will help ensure you keep your eyes healthy and beautiful:



The number one rule is to always wash your hands first then put your contact lenses in before applying makeup or moisturizer. After that, primer is a good step to start with because it helps keep shadows and liners in place.

Eye shadow

Opt for cream shadows over powder ones as they’re less likely to get in your eyes. Keep in mind, cream based shadows can irritate your eyes more if they do get in your eyes so choose water-based rather than oil-based creams.


It’s a common practice to use eyeliner on the waterline under the lashes. This is not a great idea for contact lens wearers as it puts product right on the lens and eye itself as well as blocking the oil glands of the eyelids. Pencils are recommended over gel or cream liners, which can dry then flake. Stay away from Kohl pencils, however, as they consist of heavy metals such as lead and are unapproved for cosmetic use by the FDA.


Avoid fiber mascaras or “lash-extending” mascaras as they can produce micro-flakes that can get into your eyes. Also, stay away from waterproof mascaras as well since they cannot be rinsed out with water and can stain soft contact lenses. Look for hypo-allergenic oil- and fragrance-free formulas instead. When applying, don’t brush on all the way to the root of your lashes to keep the product from touching your eyes and don’t leave any clumps, which can flake off into your eyes. Thinking of ditching the mascara and just having your lashes dyed? Think again as permanent eyelash dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries and many are not approved by the FDA.

Since two-thirds of the contact lens population are women, many cosmetic companies are making products in response this growing demand. Next time you’re at the make-up counter, ask for products that are specifically labeled “ophthalmologist tested” and “safe for contact lens wearers.” But even with these products, if you wear a lot of make-up consistently, consider switching to a daily lens. It’s the only way to be 100% sure you’re starting with a fresh, makeup- and residue-free pair each day. Good options include clariti® 1 day and MyDay® daily disposable contact lenses.”

Safety always comes first. If you have any irritation or reaction to your makeup, wash it off immediately and contact your eye doctor. However, no need to be overly worried. By paying attention to your products and being careful with your application, you will likely be able to keep looking (and seeing) your best.


Find an eye doctor near you!

More Blog Posts