An Ophthalmologist Says These Are the 3 Ingredients You Should Never Put Near Your Eyes

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Crops of new beauty and skin care products surface every day with promises of better, younger-looking eyes. But before you apply them on and around your peepers, you might (read: definitely) want to check the ingredient list on the back. 

According to New York oculoplastic surgeon Irene Gladstein, MD, your go-to product probably contains an irritant that may be pose a threat to your eye health. “There is a myriad of skin care ingredients that, when used in close proximity to the eye, may cause undesirable—and frankly dangerous—ophthalmic concerns."Here, the top three culprits to look out for in order to keep sensitivity far, far away.

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Parabens
Found in most products that contain any amount of water, Dr. Gladstein says preservatives like parabens and benzalkonium chloride (BAK) are common in makeup and skin care products, as well as makeup removers. While preservatives work to prevent bacteria from forming in your products, ingredients like parabens or BAK can also cause adverse reactions in some when placed too close to the eye.

Heavy metals
“Nickel and chrome, two heavy metals seen in all sorts of makeup products, are known to be responsible for skin and eye allergies,” explains Dr. Gladstein. However, don’t confuse these with metals such as iron, which plays an important role in our body and is necessary for proper function.

Retinols
Don’t worry: Retinols are still the gold standard of anti-aging ingredients. But, Dr. Gladstein says you have to be careful about where (and how carefully) you apply it. “When used in close proximity to the sensitive lining of the eye, retinols may precipitate dry eye and significant irritation.” The solution: Don’t get too close to your eye, and use a retinol that’s specifically formulated for use in that area instead of your facial retinol. (Many will contain hydrating ingredients that will soothe or minimize any irritation around the delicate area.)