All comments to be attributed to Dr. Shane Kannarr, leading Medical Reviewer for eyesight experts All About Vision:

Why is it important to be careful when wearing glitter? 

When it comes to using products like glitter-eye makeup, it’s important that this is removed thoroughly to avoid any long-term damage. Even tiny specks of glitter can cause irritation if they fall into your eyes. If this happens, it can be removed safely most of the time with the help of your optician or an eye doctor but if left untreated, it can lead to more severe complications like eye infections or corneal abrasions. On rare occasions, it can even lead to blindness. 

Before you go to sleep, it’s important to remove any glitter makeup with a clean cotton swab to avoid anything going into your eye as you sleep. Make sure to keep your eyes closed as you wipe away the makeup too to avoid anything falling.

What sort of damage can be caused? 

If you manage to get glitter or sparkly makeup in your eyes, you’ll experience some minor discomfort and irritation as it can scratch your corneas. For those who wear contact lenses, the irritation can be more intense. If left untreated, glitter in your eye can cause severe damage and lead to more serious complications like blurred vision, eye pain, eye infections, corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers and sight loss. 

You’ll need to make sure you’re using cosmetic glitter products and not craft glitter, which can cause a much bigger problem if it falls into your eyes. Craft glitter is cut differently and can contain toxic dyes that are not suitable for your body. They are also cut slightly larger than cosmetic glitter and can cause tiny cuts if it was to get inside your eye. 

Check the packaging to check which type of glitter product you’re purchasing. 

What should you do if you get glitter in your eye or the area becomes irritated? 

Cosmetic glitter is fairly easy to remove and can be nothing to worry about if you treat it quickly. If you get craft or cosmetic glitter in your eyes, you should rinse them with artificial tears or a sterile solution to irrigate them and encourage natural removal. Please don’t rub your eyes or try and get it out with your hands, this will only make it worse! You could cause further irritation or push the glitter around to the back of the eye. 

After you’ve rinsed your eyes, if you’re experiencing blurred vision, eye pain or severe redness, you should contact your eye doctor. They’ll be able to remove the glitter safely and check for any signs of a scratched cornea or infection. Further treatment, like topical antibiotics or eye drops, will depend on whether the glitter has caused any damage.

It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your eye health, so when in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your optician for advice or a full eye exam.

What alternatives do you recommend instead of glitter? 

The best thing you can do to prevent glitter-related eye damage is to not use glitter around your eyes. As an alternative, you could use bright eye makeup to help them stand out during the party season. You could also try a glitter eye gel or shadow, which won’t have a large amount of loose glitter and has less chance of falling into your eyes. 

The important thing to know is that, while you won’t always be able to prevent small particles getting into your eyes, there are a few things you can do to avoid irritation and glitter-related eye damage:

  • Always wash your hands before touching your eyes
  • Make sure to use glitter makeup that is designed and labelled specifically for use around the eyes
  • If you are using glitter and need to apply an adhesive, make sure to use something like eyelash glue that’s safe for use around your eyes
  • Always remove your eye makeup and any glitter before going to sleep with a clean cloth and eye-safe products. Remember to keep your eyes closed while doing this too to avoid anything falling in