Sarah Knows Eyes

Have you ever wondered what this symbol means on your toiletries and cosmetics?

Having covered the 7 eye “sins” during #NationalEyeHealthWeek in September, there was one topic that I wanted to discuss, but effectively ran out of days, and that is using out of date make-up!

‘The Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association’ states that cosmetic products must show a “period after opening” time, capturing the amount of time that the product will remain in good condition after it has been used for the first time. A symbol of an open cream jar is usually used instead of words, and the time in months can be inside the symbol or alongside it.

I personally, had no idea!!

Us girlies (and some guys?!) can rely heavily on our make-up, day in / day out. We’re all guilty or it – we find a brand we like, we buy every colour and texture variation of eyeshadows, creams, blushes and pencils, half of which don’t suit our colour palette and very rarely (if ever!) get used. It is worrying that so many of us are using old eye products, well past the use-by date, sometimes even 10 years+ out of date! Subsquently, Ophthalmic surgeons are concerned about the possible risk of eye infection.

Research has shown:- 

  • A shocking 8 in 10 (80%) of women in Britain are wearing eye make-up much older than the recommended use-by date.
  • 70% of women use mascara which is over a year old while the use-by date is generally just four months!
  • Over half (52%) of women who buy premium brands admit they would wear it for longer than the use-by date.
  • 1 in 5 Brits (19.2%) do not even realise there is a recommended use-by date on make-up!

This will vary across products and brands but some examples are: -

  • Mascara and liquid eye liner – discard after 4 months.
  • Liquid foundation and creamy eye shadow – discard after 6 months.
  • Powder eye shadow – 12 months.
  • Pencil eyeliner, lip liner, powder blusher/bronzer – can last up to 2 years but don’t share!

A lot of people don’t realise that out of date eye shadow, eye liner and especially mascara which is a dark, wet product, can be breeding grounds for bacteria and, as we apply them so close to the surface of the eye, they may cause painful infections.

So, the advice is to get into good make-up hygiene habits, which include: -

  • Sharpen eye pencils between applications.
  • Washing brushes regularly.
  • Always remove your make-up in the evening - leftover make-up can cause chronic eye irritation.
  • Turn out any old, out of date make-up, especially if it has developed a strange smell.
  • Store cosmetics at a cool room temperature. Normally they will contain preservatives to help prevent bacteria growth but storing them in a hot place will make it easy for bacteria to thrive.

I’ve done it! I’ve emptied out my old make-up! Look…

So I urge you all to do your eyes a favour – check your make-up bags this week – out with the old and in with the new! It’s a great reason to treat yourself, and your eyes, to some fresh make-up with no risk of infection!

And please, if your eye(s) becomes itchy, red, painful, watery or swollen, you may have an infection so do seek advice from your Optician or GP ASAP.

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Particularly at this time of year, with Halloween just a few days away, we as Opticians are asked time and time again about cosmetic contact lenses...

Not wanting to be a party pooper, but as discussed in my earlier post "Sin No.2 - Abusing Your Contact Lenses" as part of National Eye Health Week, the use of contact lenses is not to be undertaken lightly, and “cosmetic” contact lenses are no exception. They carry the same risks if not dispensed and used correctly – they are not to be considered a throwaway “fashion accessory”.

This popped up on my RSS feed yesterday…

(click on image for full article)

So, if cosmetic lenses are an absolute must for your Halloween costume, please don’t buy them "off the shelf", or online! Be sure to visit a reputable Contact Lens Optician, who will ensure that not only do the lenses supplied comply with British manufacturing standards, but that they fit you personally, and will advise you as to their safe usage.

And never EVER share contact lenses!! No. No. Just NO! 

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Following on from the updated Face Shapes post, here are some other important factors to consider when choosing spectacle frames, again with a little help from Elaine Grisdale’s (FBDO FAAO) article in the August 2015 edition of Dispensing Optics magazine.

The 3 "golden rules" of choosing a spectacle frame…

  1. Size does matter (sorry guys!) and is arguably more important than colour or style when “dressing the face”.
  2. A frame can never look good if it doesn’t fit, no matter how expensive or who the designer is.
  3. Comfort cannot be ignored – uncomfortable frames can leave their mark (literally!).

Funnily enough though, it’s not just about the face! How the face looks will also depend on hair style and colour, which can be very deceptive and can sometimes even appear to actually change the shape of the face. This isn’t such a big problem for men, but can be an issue for us ladies.

Always consider…

  • If you have long hair, do you always wear it down, or do you sometimes wear it up? Check that the ‘look’ you have chosen still works with the hairstyle change.
  • The same applies to hair colour; are you currently blonde but thinking about changing to brunette? Generally, bolder colours suit darker hair; warmer colours (gold, browns, peaches, pinks) suit blonde hair; and colder colours (silver, blues, lilacs, greens) suit silver hair. Whilst from my own experience, most redheds look amazing in green frames (and are sometimes the only ones that do)!
  • Also bear in mind, what colours do you prefer to wear?

This here is a very handy little tool: -

Complementary colours are opposite one another on the colour wheel, however using opposites can create drama, which can be particularly useful if you have more than one pair of spectacles (much to your Dispensing Optician’s delight! JK).

It can also be useful to consider eye colour when choosing frames. You can bring out the colour of your eyes by using similar colours in the frame detail – there are currently some great lamninated acetate frames available where colours are effectively used in this way...


However, using an opposite colour to the eyes in the frame generally serves to emphasise eye colour.

As previously explained these are merely some rough guidelines that have helped me choose frames for patients over the years, and there always exceptions to the rule! Try everything, but more than anything else, have fun with the process!

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