Prev Next

Burning Eyes of Hate

By Amalah

My eyelids are sensitive and have been for awhile. In the past I bought higher-end shadow and been ok. Until recently. The shadow I was using was making my eyelids red, puffy and itchy. So I stopped using it- problem solved. This weekend I bought new shadow -Clinique- and about two hours later- puffy, itchy red eyelids again.
I went to my dermatologist and he said well, you might have to stop wearing any eye shadow. Um, what?
So I don’t want to go all Tammy Faye but a girl does like a bit of shadow. So is there anything out there that I can use? No problem with mascara or even liner- it is the shadow.
Please help. I need something on my eyes to counter the dark toddler circles I have.

I hate this question. I hate this question because I’ve gotten it from at least a dozen different people. And I keep ignoring this question and people keep asking me this question and I HATE THIS QUESTION.
I hate it because I hate giving people bad news, and the bad news is that there is absolutely no product I can recommend that is guaranteed not to bother your eyes. Because this is an allergy. Eyelid dermatitis. Very common. Very annoying. Very much a big ol’ question mark in the world of dermatology.
And unless you can individually test out every single ingredient in your eyeshadow to figure out which one(s) you’re allergic to, it’s damn near impossible to find a product that won’t trigger the reaction. Is it cocamidopropyl betaine? One of the oxides? Soybean oil? Oh, and don’t forget to test your makeup brushes, too. It could be your brushes. Or something on your fingers! Do you blend with your fingers? Do you use an eyelash curler? It could be the nickel.
See? No way I can give you a solid recommendation with all the bazillion different variables here. Which means I have to echo your doctor’s advice: lay off the shadow. Be really careful with your other cosmetics (replace your mascara and wand and eyeliner often, and toss them at the first sign of irritation). Do Not Poke The Eyelid Allergy With A Big Pointy Stick.
bareshadow.jpgYour best shot would probably be something like Bare Minerals, which is at least free of a lot of the most likely suspects for allergies, but even this is far from a sure thing.
Just because something is “natural” or “pure” doesn’t mean it’s allergen-free, since hello! Everything I’m allergic to (mold, grass, strawberries, camping) falls squarely on the NATURE side of the fence, as opposed to the EvilBadScaryCHEMICAL side. But if it’s the talc or oils or chemicals that’s freaking your lids out, you might be able to use Bare Minerals.
Again, please be careful when you test out this or any new shadow. Don’t use an open tester at the store, though — those are like, the public restrooms of cosmetics. (Sephora gives you 60 days to return a purchase; Bare Escentuals gives you 30 days.) Test on one eye only, and wash it off at the first sign of irritation. If your doctor prescribed any kind of topical ointment for you, use that.
I mean, it’s not like eyelid dermatitis = exploding eyeballs of blindness or anything, but allergies? Ugh. SO unpredictable. You’re actually really lucky that you can wear liner and mascara, so if you really have to give up eyeshadow, at least you can rock the cat eyes if you want.

Published February 21, 2007. Last updated February 21, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon