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Should You Put in Contacts Before or After Makeup Application?

woman thinking about contacts before or after makeup application

You're getting ready for work, and it’s your first day wearing your new contacts. Your counter is lined with mascara, blush, eyeshadow and an array of other makeup products. But you stop and ask yourself: Should I put in my contacts before or after my makeup? And how do I put them in without ruining my makeup or damaging the lenses?

Doing makeup with contact lenses can be tricky, as some makeup can potentially irritate your eyes. Powder or mascara clumps can fall in, causing discomfort and infections, and even destroy your contact lenses. So proper makeup application when you wear contacts is vital, especially for people who wear makeup regularly.

Here are some tips for using makeup with contacts to keep your eyes healthy and your contacts in good shape.

Contacts Before or After Makeup?

One thing’s for sure: put your contacts in before applying your makeup. This way, you avoid the risk of getting makeup particles on them.

There’s a risk when you apply makeup first and then put in your contacts. There's a possibility of not only messing up your makeup, but also accidentally getting chemicals on your lenses. These chemicals then transfer into your eyes, causing further irritation.

Even if you’re a long-time contact lens wearer, it's best not to try putting your lenses in after putting your makeup on. If makeup does contaminate your lenses, rinse them off, wash your hands and reapply your makeup.

Remember that if you're using any kind of sprays (hairspray, deodorants, face mists), the spray can get on your contact lenses. Close your eyes (and even cover your eyes with one hand) during application and after, as spray particles linger in the air.

Avoid Doing Makeup While on the Go

blonde woman wearing black driving car

Makeup application belongs at home. Busy people are often in a rush and may think that applying their makeup while on their way somewhere is a good idea. They call it multitasking! But hastily applying makeup with contacts in, especially in a moving vehicle could lead to disastrous results, such as eye pain or a damaged contact. If you find yourself on the go and needing to reapply your makeup, take a moment to step into a bathroom, where you can do it carefully with a mirror to help.

Prevent Contaminants From Getting Into Your Eyes

man outstretched arm and hand

Our hands carry over 1,000 bacteria and touch many contaminated surfaces every day. Transferring bacteria from your hands to your eyes puts you at a higher risk of infection.

But bacteria are not the only culprit for irritation and infections. If you've applied foundation or powders previously, wash your hands to remove any remaining traces. Then it’s safe to put in your contacts. It's also recommended to keep your eyes closed before and after inserting contacts while using any powdery makeup.

Keep Your Contacts Clean

contact on finger being washed by solution

Diligent cleaning is the best way to keep lenses free of irritants.

Clean them thoroughly with solution every evening, rubbing for 20 seconds to remove all dirt or chemicals. But remember to wash your hands first! Store them in fresh solution overnight. You should clean your case every night as well to remove any buildup of contaminants and biofilms.

Contacts that are not washed and properly stored can encourage bacteria growth. You could end up with not only redness and irritation but also persistent eye infections.

If you're an avid makeup wearer and have a busy lifestyle, consider using daily disposable contacts. Daily disposables have no cleaning routine because you wear a fresh new pair every day.

Mascara for Contact Wearers

woman with blue eye putting on mascara

Clumpy mascara not only looks terrible but can also get under your lenses and irritate your eyes. When you wear contacts, use water-based, hypoallergenic mascara or ones that are formulated for sensitive eyes if you want to wear contacts.

Use Cream-Based Products

Cream-based eyeshadows are safer for people who wear contacts. Powdery shadows often crumble during the day, but cream-based eyeshadows stay put. This eliminates the worry of particles getting in your eyes.

Steer clear of any products containing oil. If they get into your eyes, they could cloud up your contact lenses.

Avoid Makeup on Your Waterline

The waterline is where your lid touches your eye. Glands line your eyelids and provide your eyes with hydration. Heavy makeup application here can block the glands and lead to more redness, dryness, dirty lenses and even infections. When applying makeup on your lids, keep some space between your lashes and your lid.

If you enjoy using eyeliner, using a pencil one is better, because they flake less than liquid and gel liners. Once again, you want to prevent traces from falling into your eyes.

Replace Makeup and Clean Brushes Regularly

Bacteria tend to grow on used and opened makeup that’s more than three months old. When these bacteria come into contact with your eyes or contact lenses, it opens up the possibility of infections. Check expiration dates periodically and buy new makeup on a regular basis. Because you just know, if an an eye infection is going to happen, it’s going to be in time for a special event! It’s just not worth the risk.

Don't forget to clean the mascara applicator as well. Dried out mascara creates clumps, and they can fall into your eyes.

Sharing is caring, but not with makeup, and certainly not for contact lens wearers.

The same goes for brushes or other application tools you might use on your eyes. Makeup particles can clump in your brushes, which leads to bacteria buildup.

Wash these with soap and warm water, shake them out and leave them to dry overnight in a clean place. Or, if you have a specialty brush, contact the distributor to find out the best cleaning routine.

Removing Contacts

young woman removing contacts

At the end of the day, wash your hands and make sure they're dry. Remove your contacts FIRST before removing makeup. Be careful about not bumping them on your lid or touching any makeup residue.

You should choose a makeup remover that is water-based or for sensitive skin. Removers with oils can irritate your eyes. You can use lid wipes to wipe away makeup applied directly to your eyelids.

Final Thoughts

Answering the question, "Should you put in your contacts before or after makeup?" isn't as tricky once you understand more about eye hygiene. Proper cleaning, application and upkeep of makeup are essential for a great experience with contacts.

By following these tips and advice, you’ll be on your way to contact lenses free of irritants. Plus, a flawless made-up look!

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