Ever get a makeover at a department store makeup counter and have that voice in the back of your mind ask, “Wait, did the makeup artist use a disposable brush for the mascara? Did they put the disposable brush back into the tube where brushes that touched other people have also been?” These are concerns you have every reason to worry about because sharing eye makeup or eye makeup tools can be pretty risky for the health of your eyes. While at some point in our lives most of us probably let that friend who had a whole Sephora store on their vanity do our makeup before a major event while using their own products, thinking back on it might make our skin crawl knowing what we know now.
The risk of contracting viral conjunctivitis (pink eye) from sharing eye makeup is well known, but there’s an even creepier crawlier reason you should steer clear of any product or tool that has touched someone else’s eyes.
The dangers of eyelash mites
Ever hear of eyelash mites? Well, they’re exactly what they sound like: microscopic organisms that feed on the dead skin cells around the lashes and eyelids. In other words, teeny tiny bugs (via Healthline). Eew! The thing is, these mites are naturally present in hair follicles and for the most part are not harmful, but if you wear eyeliner or mascara or use eye shadow brushes, your mites are lively living in your makeup. While you wouldn’t normally notice these mites, they can over-grow and cause an infestation, at which point, the symptoms would be very hard to ignore.
If you notice itching accompanied by the skin around your eyes looking red, scaly, and rough, you should see your eye doctor to check for this type of mite infection. Generally, it can be treated with a prescription cream, or your doctor might even suggest using tea tree oil topically on the affected area. If an eyelash mite infestation is not treated however, it can cause more serious issues like blepharitis, which can cause your eyelids to swell or crust over, making it difficult to open your eyes (via The Cleveland Clinic). IF this isn’t taken care of, it could even lead to problems with your cornea or difficult-to-treat infections like chronic conjunctivitis. Eeek!
So next time you’re thinking of borrowing your friend’s mascara or letting someone do your eye makeup with brushes that weren’t thoroughly disinfected between clients, skip it!
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