science of us

I Think We’ve All Learned a Lesson Here About Taking Off Your Eye Makeup Before Bed

Photo: Harry Vorsteher/Getty Images

It is astonishing to me that this still needs to be said for anyone well enough to walk the 5 or 25 feet to their bathroom, but seriously, for real: You should really take off your eye makeup before bed. For one thing, think of your pillowcases. For another, think of your eyelashes themselves — rolling around at night with mascara on makes it all the more likely that your lashes will be pulled off. Also, it’s just what you’re supposed to do, like brushing your teeth before bed. But if, somehow, these reasons aren’t enough to convince you, consider also that wearing mascara to bed puts you at risk of going blind.

As documented in a recent study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a 50-year-old woman from Australia went to the eye doctor complaining of pain and irritation in both eyes. Doctors discovered concretions — solid masses formed by the accumulation of material — after flipping her upper eyelids to look underneath. (It gets worse!) These masses were the result of 25 years’ worth of improperly removed mascara, doctors said, and were beginning to erode the patient’s conjunctival surface. If one such lesion had gotten infected, she could have gone blind. There are some very gruesome pictures available, should you need further convincing.

Doctors were able to remove the concretions after a 90-minute, surely very unpleasant procedure, but said the scarring damage to her eyelids and the surface of her cornea is permanent. So, SERIOUSLY: Remove your eye makeup at night. And no, not like that — don’t frantically rub at your eyes because that only helps little mascara pieces get lodged under the lids. Instead, press a makeup remover–wetted cotton pad to your eyelashes and hold it there to dissolve the makeup. It takes a little longer, but it’s worth it.

Please Take Off Your Eye Makeup Before Bed, Seriously