Florence Mussat, M.D.
680 N Lake Shore Dr. #1030 Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 751-9000


Eye Makeup Tips After Eyelid Surgery

You’ve made the decision to have eyelid surgery and are on track for a new look — a brighter-eyed, more alert and attractive you. There are a few things you should know about makeup after the surgery, both in the immediate period of healing and beyond, as your eyelids fully recover and reveal their new form.

When to Use Makeup After Eyelid Surgery

It’s critical that you follow your surgeon’s instructions for post-operative care. Until the incisions from the surgery have healed, your first priority will be to keep the area clean to avoid infection.  Also, you will need to exercise caution when cleaning the surgical site, as you need to avoid any pressure or tension that may damage the healing tissue and interfere with recovery. Because of the need to protect your incisions as they heal, you will be advised to avoid using makeup for the first two weeks after surgery, or roughly a week after the stitches are removed. Applying makeup too soon after eyelid surgery can irritate the skin and slow healing, and even lead to infection. Additionally, if you use makeup while the incisions are still healing, bits of makeup can get into the wound. If this occurs, your skin may heal around the makeup, and it will create a permanent mark in your skin, like a tattoo.

About a week after your stitches have been removed and once your doctor gives you the OK, you can begin to use small amounts of non-irritating makeup, gradually adjusting the application and types of makeup as your eyes finish healing.

What Kinds of Makeup to Use

It’s a good idea to replace your eye makeup after your eyelid surgery, for several reasons. Makeup containers and applicators can collect bacteria over time and provide an ideal place for their growth. We are advised to replace products such as mascara and eyeliner at least every three months, and you especially don’t want to run the risk of infection after your surgery. Also, older products tend to dry out, clump, and flake; they simply don’t give us the best results and can end up leaving bits of makeup in your healing incisions.

When shopping for new makeup, look for non-irritating formulations. Many products claim to be “natural” but that’s a broad claim, and purchasing products that are free from irritating chemicals is an important step that you can take to ensure the best possible results from your surgery. Avoid products that contain alcohol or fragrance for the first few weeks after eyelid surgery, as these can cause skin irritation. Here are some other characteristics to look for as you replace your eye makeup:

  • Makeup labeled as hypoallergenic or for sensitive skin is typically less irritating than other types of makeup.
  • Non-comedogenic or non-occlusive products will not block the skin’s pores and are generally safe for post-surgical use once the incisions have healed. These products typically contain little or no oil, which can irritate sensitive skin. 
  • Mineral makeup generally is free from oils and chemical preservatives and is the least irritating option for many people. When it comes in a loose powder form, rather than pressed, it can be applied with a gentle touch. You should be able to find mineral eye shadow, eyeliner, foundation, concealer, and blush.
  • Water-based cosmetics are likely to be less irritating than oil-based products. They are also easier to wash off.
  • A clear gel can be a non-irritating alternative to mascara and can create a similar lengthening and thickening effect.

Color Tips

To conceal bruising or discoloration, use the rule of complementary colors: Hide purple bruising with yellow concealer. Mask redness with green concealer. Cover yellow discoloration with purple concealer. Avoid black or brown eyeliner at first, as these can emphasize post-operative redness. Instead, you can apply eyeliner with a blue tone along the upper and lower lash lines.

When your eyes have completely recovered, you may want to consult with a beauty specialist for makeup ideas that accentuate your new look. Many patients are able to experiment with new style of eye makeup once they have had eyelid surgery.

Take Care in Applying and Removing Makeup

Use a light touch when using makeup after eyelid surgery — apply as little product as possible and be gentle in how you apply and remove it. Never pull the eyelids and avoid excessive pressure on the skin around your eyes when applying makeup or when washing it off. 

Be extra careful with hygiene when using makeup, at least until your eyes have completely healed from the surgery. Wash your hands with germicidal soap before applying makeup to your eyes, and use disposable applicators to avoid culturing bacteria and spreading it to your eyes. Apply makeup in a well-lit place where your hands can be steady so you can exercise the utmost caution.

When removing makeup, solvents that can irritate your skin, such as alcohol-based removers, can be replaced with gentler cleansers, such as micellar water or coconut oil. Gently clean with soft cloths or cotton swabs and take your time. 

Dr. Florence Mussat is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Chicago. Call our office at (312) 751-9000 today or contact us online to schedule a personal consultation and find out if you are a good candidate for eyelid surgery.