Eye Color Cosmetics and Contact Dermatitis


Contact dermatitis is defined as dermatitis resulting from skin’s direct contact with irritating compounds. It is generally either an allergic reaction or an irritant-induced inflammatory presentation. Contact dermatitis can occur on different areas of the body, such as the hands, back and face-even the eyelids. In comparison with facial skin, palms of the hands and other body parts, the stratum corneum of the eyelids is thinner, which contributes to an enhanced rate of chemical diffusion into skin layers,1 and due to the moderate thinning of eyelid stratum corneum, contact dermatitis from irritants may occur even at low excipient concentrations.2

During exercise, eyelids are exposed considerably to excessive sweat, and the oxidizing capacity of sweat has been shown to enhance penetration of ions such as nickel into the epidermal layer. Therefore, ion and chemical absorption from cosmetic products may be enhanced due to eyelid contact with sweat.3 Hence, it has been recommended that eye shadow be applied after drying the underlying skin to reduce the risk of absorbing pigments and toxic elements.

Following is an overview of research correlating, even at trace amounts, raw materials present in eye area color cosmetics with contact dermatitis.

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