Irritated with my irritated eyes

It may not look like it, but my eyes are so much less irritated than they were!

It may not look like it, but my eyes are so much less irritated than they were!

Ever since moving to London at the end of August, my eyes have been REALLY irritated, painfully irritated! I’ve had blepharitis in the past and I assumed that’s what I was once again battling. My eyes were red, felt warm, itchy, and there was an area on one of my eyeballs that had a small collection of broken capillaries. After trying everything I knew to do, I finally saw an eye doctor and learned that I had “200 different allergies” (that’s what the eye doctor announced!) in my eyes and what’s called allergic conjunctivitis, which is not the same as infective conjunctivitis and is not contagious.

Regardless of my eye infection’s being allergy related, I immediately went through all of my eye makeup and heave-hoed all mascaras, thinking that might be the source of some of my irritation, including those newly purchased and loved, then cleaned all of my makeup brushes in warm water with a gentle antibacterial soap. Things could be worse, right??!

Because I’m now dependent on wearing mascara, I spoke with with a sales woman at the Armani makeup counter at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 (it’s never too early to show up for a flight there!) about my eye allergies and learned that lash extending mascaras can be particularly irritating, because the mascara extends past the tips of your eyelashes to create a longer effect and can break off and go into your eyes. If your eyes are sensitive like mine, it’s best to use a mascara that enhances your lashes, but stays put.

I recently switched to Clinique mascara and eye liner in the hopes that its being fragrance free would work in my favor. So far so good!

A word from the wise: if your eyes are sensitive and you’re on the hunt for makeup that doesn’t irritate, when in a store best to ask for or order samples online before committing to a new brand. You may also want to avoid having eye makeup applied at a (department) store as you never know how clean their makeup or brushes are.


I also learned in doing further research on the subject that hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested or allergy tested don’t mean diddly squat. Apparently, these are just marketing terms used by cosmetics companies to try to persuade consumers that they have more of a grip on their products than other brands. In none of these cases do these companies have to validate their claims or meet any type of industry standard. Huh??!

You’ll instead want to look for makeup that’s fragrance-free and the good news is that there are many brands available to you! And then it’s just a crap shoot as to what will work best for you. I love Laura Mercier,  Bobbi Brown, MAC, Clinique, Bare Escentuals (mineral based makeup), Armani, and the list goes on. But for me, it’s trial and error for now. By the way, I have no issues with skin sensitivity to makeup, though I do tend to break out from sunscreens. I’ll provide you with a short list of some particular brands that don’t cause my face to go into full teenage acne mode (there are only two so far that I can highly recommend)!

Whatever the case may be, don’t ignore symptoms of red and irritated eyes. Eye infections are simple to treat and allergies can be quelled, but the most effective eye medicines require a doctor’s prescription.

As an aside, if your eyes are particularly irritated, here’s what you can do before going to bed: remove all eye makeup with a fragrance free eye makeup remover (I can highly recommend Clinique’s Take The Day Off), wet a washcloth with hot water (as hot as you can stand), then press and leave on your eyes until the washcloth is cool; repeat at least three times. Follow with a soothing eye drop or in my case, Opatanol.

If you need an eye drop to combat irritated eyes, I follow my eye doctor’s advice of using one that’s preservative-free and/or comes in individual doses. I currently use Hyco San and I really like it.

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