|| Beauty Care Business and Professional Network
Below are three short articles on eye products, the first is on the safe use
of eye cosmetics, the second is on eyelash dyes, and the third one is on
permanent eyelash/eyebrow dyes and tints.
U. S. Food and Drug Administration
SAFE USE OF EYE COSMETICS
Mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner are intended to make women more attractive.
One thing they shouldn't do is harm the eyes.
Yet each year many women suffer eye infections from cosmetics. In rare cases,
women have been temporarily or permanently blinded by an eye cosmetic. When an
eye cosmetic is bought in the store, it is almost always free from bacteria that
could cause eye infections.
The reason these products do cause infections is that they are not adequately
preserved against microorganisms or are misused by the consumer after they are
opened. Poor preservation or misuse of an eye cosmetic can cause dangerous
bacteria to grow in the product. Then, when the cosmetic is applied to the area
around the eye, it can cause an infection.
The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for assuring that
cosmetics are harmless, has taken numerous steps to make sure that eye cosmetics
are free from contamination when they reach you, and that they contain
preservatives to inhibit the growth of bacteria. The cosmetics industry
generally makes products which will not harm you. Nevertheless, FDA urges you to
follow these eleven tips on the use of eye cosmetics:
- Discontinue immediately the use of any eye product that causes irritation.
If irritation persists, see a doctor.
- Recognize that your hands contain bacteria that, if placed in the eye,
could cause infections. Wash your hands before applying cosmetics to your
- Make sure that any instrument you place in the eye area is clean.
- Do not allow cosmetics to become covered with dust or contaminated with
dirt or soil. Wipe off the container with a damp cloth if visible dust or
dirt is present.
- Do not use old containers of eye cosmetics. If you haven't used the
product for several months, it's better to discard it and purchase a new
- Do not spit into eye cosmetics. The bacteria in your mouth may grow in the
cosmetic and subsequent application to the eye may cause infection.
- Do not share your cosmetics. Another person's bacteria in your cosmetic
can be hazardous to you.
- Do not store cosmetics at temperatures above 85 degrees F. Cosmetics held
for long periods in hot cars, for example, are more susceptible to
deterioration of the preservative.
- Avoid using eye cosmetics if you have an eye infection or the skin around
the eye is inflamed. Wait until the area is healed.
- Take particular care in using eye cosmetics if you have any allergies.
- When applying or removing eye cosmetics, be careful not to scratch the
eyeball or some other sensitive area.
U. S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Office of Cosmetics Fact Sheet
February 7, 1995
1933 marked the beginning of a congressional controversy over the need for
new and stronger food and drug laws. At the time, FDA had no authority to move
against a cosmetic product called Lash Lure that was causing allergic reactions
in many women. Two women, in fact, had suffered severe reactions to the product;
one woman became blind and the second woman died.
The new Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was passed in 1938 and "Lash
Lure" was the first product seized under its authority.
Consumers should never dye their eyebrows or eyelashes. An allergic reaction
to the dye could prompt swelling, inflammation, and susceptibility to infection
in the eye area. These reactions can severely harm the eye and even cause
blindness. FDA prohibits the use of hair dyes for eyebrow and eyelash tinting or
dyeing, even in beauty salons and other establishments.
FDA has continuously warned the public about the use of coal-tar dyes on the
eyebrows or eyelashes, stating that such use could cause permanent injury to the
eyes, including blindness.
Eyelash and eyebrow dyes should not be confused with temporary colorings used
around the eyes, such as mascara, eye shadow, eyebrow pencils and eye liners
which contain colors that have been approved by FDA for use in the eye area.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
FDA Fact Sheet
T92-31: July 14, 1992
FDA WARNS AGAINST USE OF "PERMANENT"
EYELASH/EYEBROW DYES AND TINTS
The Food and Drug Administration today reissued its long-standing warning
against "permanent" eyebrow and eyelash dyeing. The Food, Drug, and
Cosmetic Act of 1938 prohibits the marketing of hair dyes for eyelash and
eyebrow tinting or dyeing because this practice has been known to cause severe
eye injuries and even blindness.
These dyes should not be confused with temporary coloring products used
around the eyes--such as mascara, eye shadow, eyebrow pencils and eye
liners--which can be used safely.
FDA's new warning was prompted by a recent report from the New York City area
of an injury possibly associated with eyebrow and eyelash tinting. An informal
FDA survey of beauty salon advertisements in the Washington, DC area following
the report from New York indicates that some establishments are promoting
"permanent" eyebrow and eyelash dyeing or tinting services.
Consumers should be aware that there are no natural or synthetic color
additives approved by FDA for dyeing or tinting eyelashes and eyebrows--either
for use in beauty salons or in the home. In fact, the law requires all hair dye
products to include instructions for performing patch tests before use to
identify for possible allergic reactions, and to carry warnings about the
dangers of applying these products to eyebrows and eyelashes.
The health hazards of permanent eyelash and eyebrow dyes have been known for
more than 60 years. These dyes have repeatedly been cited in scientific
literature as capable of causing serious reactions when placed in direct contact
with the eye. In two famous cases in 1933, a woman who used eyelash dye died,
while another woman became blind in both eyes after suffering weeks of intense
Despite these warnings, however, some beauty salons and other establishments
apparently continue to promote this use of hair dyes. This practice most often
occurs during the summer months as a means of retaining eyebrow and eyelash
coloring after outdoor activities such as swimming.
As recently as 10 years ago, FDA issued an import alert against the
importation of foreign eyebrow and eyelash dye products. Although FDA's quick
action helped to limit the distribution of these products, some injuries did
To protect the public health, FDA will continue to work to prevent the
importation and marketing of eyebrow and eyelash dyes. In addition, the agency
will intensify its work with state and local health officials and the cosmetics
industry to combat the misuse of hair dye products.