If you've ever wondered how to remove mascara properly, you're not alone. It can sometimes be tough to gauge if you got every last smudge of the makeup off your eyelashes. But as annoying as it can be, it's also absolutely essential to your beauty routine — especially if you don't want to risk going blind like one woman almost did in a recent case study.
The May 2018 study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology describes a 50-year-old Australian woman named Theresa Lynch who complained to her doctor about a gritty sensation in her eyes. Her ophthalmologist, Dana Robaei, PhD, took a closer look and ended up finding scary black spots on the inside of Lynch's eyelids. "She admitted to more than 25 years of heavy mascara use on her lashes with inadequate removal," wrote Dr. Robaei in the study.
Yes, the black spots under Lynch's eyes were actually tiny bits of mascara that had built up and solidified over the years. After more than two decades of her bad habit, some of those spots had even started scratching her eyes, which was (yep, you guessed it!) causing that uncomfortable sensation in the first place. Luckily, Lynch was able to get the spots removed in a surgery, but she still had scarring afterward — along with the sobering realization that she could have gone blind.
"Every time Theresa was blinking, these bumps were rubbing on the surface of the eye and they [posed] a risk to her vision," said Robaei in an interview with DailyMail.com. "If the scratch on the surface of the eye got infected, there is a risk this could be a potentially blinding, but that would be rare."
We know you're probably ready to swear off eye makeup forever right about now, but it's important to keep in mind that this was a rather extreme case. This is not something that happened overnight: Lynch had skimped on removing very heavy eye makeup for more than two decades. That said, it's important for you to be sure you always remove every last bit of your eye makeup — without missing a smidgen.
How to Remove Mascara Properly
Experts urge anyone who wears eye makeup to remove every last bit of it before they go to sleep and to never sleep while still wearing it. Some people use gentle soap and water with a clean washcloth or cotton pad for removal, while others use a special eye makeup remover, such as Neutrogena Extra Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads (Amazon, $12.92) or Philosophy Just Release Me Eye Makeup Remover (Amazon, $15.99). Either way can work, as long as you're thorough about it. Be especially gentle while you're taking off your mascara, and try to minimize rubbing or tugging. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends brushing a clean cotton swab along the base of your eyelashes to ensure that all the makeup remnants are completely gone. If you do use eye makeup remover, avoid getting it in your eyes and be sure to thoroughly rinse it off your eyelids once you're done. Your eyes will thank you later on!