Cosmetics are a way of life for many patients, yet they can cause significant problems to the ocular surface. Even when used appropriately, they can be toxic to the ocular surface, and can interfere with safe contact lens wear.1,2 Silicone-based lenses in particular, given their lipophilic nature, are more prone to absorb waterproof cosmetics that often contain oil-based or silicone-based film-forming agents.3 And no matter how careful patients are with their lens insertion and removal, many still get cosmetic products on their lenses, which can alter the lens parameters, new research shows.4

Researchers at the Centre for Ocular Lens Research & Education (CORE) in Waterloo, Ontario, recently studied cosmetics’ impact on the physical dimension and optical properties of three monthly replacement silicone hydrogel contact lenses, with enlightening results.4

The researchers coated three lens types—Acuvue Vita, (Johnson & Johnson), Ultra, (Bausch+Lomb) and Air Optix plus Hydraglyde (Alcon)—with three hand creams, three makeup removers and three mascaras, followed by a one-hour soak in phosphate-buffered saline. They created six replicates for each lens-cosmetic combination and assessed the lenses for diameter, sagittal depth, base curve, lens power and optical quality.4

When compared with uncoated control lenses, the test lenses coated with mascara or makeup remover were affected, while those coated with the hand creams were not. All of the parameter changes were dependent on the lens type and the specific cosmetic tested. In two of the lenses, one of the makeup removers led to a diameter increase of 0.26mm, while a second remover showed a 0.35mm increase—both makeup removers decreased the diameter of the third lens by 0.01mm. Mascara impacted sagittal depth the most, with one mascara increasing the sagittal depth in all three lens types by 0.16±0.06mm, 0.24±0.22 and 0.26±0.09mm. Base curve changed by as much as 0.35mm when coated with two of the three mascaras.4

The researchers note that the Acuvue Vita had a surprising power change of −1.18±0.65D (more minus) when exposed to one of the mascaras.4

“Makeup removers and mascaras changed the lens parameters to varying degrees, which may affect the fit and overall performance of the lens,” they concluded.4

1. Chen X, Sullivan DA, Sullivan AG, et al. Toxicity of cosmetic preservatives on human ocular surface and adnexal cells. Exp Eye Res. 2018;170:188-97.

2. Tsukiyama J, Miyamoto Y, Fukuda M, et al. Influence of eye cosmetics and cleansing products on contact lenses. J Jpn CL Soc. 2010:52:101-7.

3. Carney FP, Nash WL, Sentell KB. The Absorption of major tear film lipids in vivo to various silicone hydrogels over time. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Jan;49(1):120-4. Luensmann D, van Doorn K, May C, et al. The impact of cosmetics on the physical dimension and optical performance of contemporary silicone hydrogel contact lenses. Eye Contact Lens. June 19, 2019. Epub ahead of print].