Can I wear make up when I have keratoconus?

OK so this one is mostly for the ladies!



Many of us like to feel good and use make up to enhance our features- we are often asked- “Can I still wear make up when I have to wear  contact lenses?” or “I had a graft can I still wear make up?”

The answer is yes, but as with all things keratoconus related- there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • eye hygiene
  • contact lens hygiene
  • using good quality products

Eye hygiene

Always remove your eye make up thoroughly, every time you wear any. You risk eye infections and conditions like blepharitis or conjunctivitis if you leave make up on your eyes that can travel into your eyes and also clog pores. Use baby lotion, baby wipes, or good quality hypoallergenic make up remover wipes or lotions. Never rub delicate eye skin or rub your eyes to get make up off. Boots (UK) have Simply Sensitive Eye Make-Up Removal Lotion 125ml which is said to be a good product to use.

Avoid glitter in eye shadow as this can get into your eyes and under contact lenses- this will cause irritation.

It is generally not a good idea to use eyeliner INSIDE your eyeline, keep it outside if you have to wear it at all

Waterproof mascara is a great idea as it is less likely to run into your eyes and cause irritation. Over the past few years, natural formulations have improved greatly. While truly waterproof natural mascaras are hard to find (they’re very difficult to do naturally), some are now at least water-resistant:  Green People Organic Volumising Mascara,  is water-resistant. Again that works fine on sensitive eyes and looks great

It can be tricky to get off though so consider something like Vichy’s first waterproof eye makeup remover that limits eyelash loss and protects the eyes’ sensitive skin. Eliminates all traces of even waterproof makeup.
Enriched with-

  • Arginine, which stimulates the arrival of nutrients in the bulb and repairs damaged fibre.
  • Taurine, which protects the follicle from attacks that could slow down fibre growth.

Contact lens hygiene

  • Always remove your contact lenses and clean them thoroughly with proper solutions (never saliva or tap water)
  • use the recommended method for your type of lenses
  • if you notice that any make up has gotten into your eye and onto your lenses making them smeary or blurry- take them out and clean them
  • deep clean lenses to remove protein deposits at least once a month

Avoid the Panda Look with Good Quality Products


If you can- buy the best you can afford, cheap make up will not look good and more importantly is unlikely to be made with quality ingredients, such as hypo allergenic ones. Typical problems when applying eye makeup is that the makeup tends to run causing your eyes to water and sting. To prevent those annoying runs and smudges, look for makeup products that are designed just for sensitive eyes.

If you have sensitive skin or eyes, always buy products that allow for this. Companies such as Butterflies Eye Care specialise in items like this

And there’s Bobbi Brown Intensifying Long-Wear Mascara, which is not specifically designed for sensitive eyes but is often cited as a great product to use. A Beauty Bible tester in the UK with blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) says that Clinique High Impact Mascara, £16.50, did not smudge, run or irritate her eyes.  Clinique mascaras, do suit many sensitive-eyed women. In general, though, in our experience, the natural mascaras are less likely to irritate sensitive eyes.  NATorigin Lengthening Mascara, £14.50, approved by Allergy UK, received very good reviews from Beauty Bible testers, one of whom specifically commented that it did not irritate her usually sensitive eyes at all. 


NATorigin is an affordable, French, ‘extreme tolerance’ range of cosmetics and skin care especially formulated for contact lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes or skin. Each product contains a minimum 97% naturally-sourced ingredients (and some organic), superior to the minimum criteria that many of the natural certifications demand.

Avoid “lash-lengthening” mascaras and powder shadows as their colours and fibres are more likely to fall into your eyes, causing further irritation to sensitive eyes. Instead, use thickening mascara and cream shadows such as Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Eyeshadow or Bobbi Brown Longwear Cream Shadow Stick.

Tips for applying make up from expert Derek Selby of Cover FX for those with sensitive eyes.

1. Apply an eye primer all around the eye. It will help prevent those uncontrollable runs and smudges.

2. Use a water-resistant concealer underneath your eyes. This provides more protection against smudges.

3. Apply waterproof mascara to your lashes. Removing the makeup doesn’t need to be difficult, as long as you use a waterproof eye makeup remover.

4. Try to avoid using liquid eyeliners. Instead use a cake eyeliner or eye shadow. Dip a wet eye brush into the shadow and drag the brush along the top lid of your eye. The shadow will dry as a powder, leaving a precise line. Eye shadows are more resistant to tearing.

5. A final helpful tip is not to rub your eyes. The trick is to blot the corners of your eyes. This will help to prevent your eyes from tearing.

More top tips

Here are some great informative make up videos from fellow keratoconus KCGB member Mandy Cummins- these video tutorials are well worth a watch!

Mandy does makeup videos on YouTube. She also has moderate KC, and includes tips and tricks about KC management while wearing makeup. Mandy is not a doctor, but knows what works for her and for her clients with Keratoconus

Mandy has just launched a new website and there’s a page about her KC journey. Take a look and give Mandy some feedback.!keratoconus/c1k7m

Join us on Twitter @keratoconusGB for more keratconus chat and advice


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