How And When To Use Eye Makeup After Lasik

How And When To Use Eye Makeup After Lasik

For someone who is used to wearing eye makeup every day, the restriction on makeup after lasik can be one of the more challenging post-lasik requirements to follow. Especially since lasik will get you out of your glasses and you get to show off your eyes even more! But at least in the short-term after the procedure, there are good reasons to avoid makeup.

Eye makeup should be avoided for the first week after lasik. Makeup often contains irritants to the eye and removing the makeup can put you at a greater risk of dislocating your lasik flap. After that first week, makeup can be worn in moderation and a few simple adjustments to your makeup removal technique can prevent any issues with your eyes.

By having some patience during that first week, you can avoid causing any extra issues with your eyes.

What’s Wrong With Eye Makeup After Lasik

There are two main reasons to avoid eye makeup within the first week after lasik:

  • Eye makeup can actually cause more irritation to the eye
  • Removing the eye makeup can cause you to accidentally rub and dislodge the lasik flap

Eye irritation from makeup

Some people have sensitive eyes when using makeup (even before lasik). These individuals look specifically for makeup designed for sensitive eyes. Bu what is actually happening here?

Eye makeup can irritate the eyes. This in turn can cause extra inflammation and dry eye. There are two main ingredients in eye makeup that cause eye irritation: preservatives such as Benzalkonium chloride (BAC) and fragrances.

Preservatives are necessary in eye makeup to prevent bacterial growth while it is in storage. But these preservatives can actually make their way into the eye. Using an artificial tear drop can wash some of the makeup on the eyelids into the eye. These preservatives are toxic to the eye and cause the eye to dry out.

Similarly, some people can develop an allergy to fragrances in eye makeup. Allergies will cause the eye to become very red and irritated. Fortunately, many cosmetics are available now that are free of any fragrances.

After lasik you don’t want extra irritation to the eye. Everyone after lasik will have some degree of short-term dry eye. The lasik flap and treatment disrupt tiny nerves within the cornea. These nerves control the production of tears on the eye. After lasik, until these nerves regenerate, you have an impaired ability to produce tears. This means your eye dries out more after lasik.

Part of your strategy after lasik is to prevent additional dry eye. Extra dry eye causes more inflammation on the surface of the eye. Inflammation in turn can actually make your dry eye worse! See the problem here? Controlling dry eye and inflammation are the secret to getting it to go away.

And irritants from excessive makeup use can make the problem worse. Is it enough to stop using makeup even after the 1 week restriction? Maybe, maybe not. But at least it should be used in moderation until the dry eye from lasik heals up. Especially if you previously had sensitive eyes even before lasik.

There is danger when removing the makeup from the eyes

This is the biggest reason why eye makeup should be avoided specifically during the first week after lasik. When you rub your eyes to remove the eye makeup, you are at a higher risk of causing an issue with the lasik flap. (see also Everything You Need To Know About Flap Dislocation After Lasik)

It takes time for the lasik flap to heal over. However, most of this will actually happen pretty early on, especially within the first 24 hours after lasik. To create the lasik flap and allow it to fold back for the treatment, a thin break is created in the very top most layer of the cornea called epithelium. After the lasik flap is repositioned, you are left with this epithelial scratch. This semi-circular flap-shaped scratch is actually the reason why you have some scratchy pain and discomfort in the first few hours after lasik. Once this scratch heals over, this pain goes away.

Until this epithelium heals over, there aren’t many barriers to prevent the lasik flap from moving if rubbed. But once this epithelium heals over, it helps "lock" the lasik flap into place and makes it more secure.

But the epithelium healing over isn’t enough to completely prevent the lasik flap from dislocating. The epithelium will get stronger with time and also gradually the edges of the lasik flap develop a subtle amount of scarring to lock the lasik flap even more. This takes a longer amount of time.

By avoiding situations, such as removing makeup, in which you can potentially rub your eyes during the first week after lasik, you reduce your risk of causing any issues with the lasik flap.

The Best Technique To Remove Makeup After Lasik

Once you get past that first week and are ready to start wearing eye makeup again, there are a few techniques you can use to reduce the risk of rubbing your eye.

  • When cleaning your upper eyelid, look down with your eyes. This will move your cornea and lasik flap out of the way from underneath your eyelid. Conversely, when you clean your lower eyelid, look up. If you are able to keep your eyes open while looking down, then you will know for sure that you are not rubbing your eye.
  • Use very gentle dabbing motions. Let the makeup remover do the work. There is no need to do excessive scrubbing or rubbing motions on the eyelids.
  • When cleaning the makeup remover from your eyelids, again lightly dab the eyelids with a clean washcloth. You don’t want to splash water in your eyes after lasik. Using a washcloth will allow you to be more controlled.

With these simple changes to your routine, you’ll be able to effectively remove your eye makeup without causing any issues with your eyes after lasik.


Eye makeup can cause you to have additional eye irritation. Removing eye makeup can put you at a higher risk of rubbing your eyes and causing the lasik flap to dislocate. For these reasons, eye makeup should be avoided for one week after lasik.

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