To a large extent, the fault is just life in 2023. We live in a toxic, hyperpolluted environment, a changing climate where moulds and bacteria fester and with less money to buy a fresh mascara/product if ‘this old one will do’. We spend way, way more time on screens than our eyes were ever designed for. As a result, our lids, cornea and lubricants are just overwhelmed with filth, bacteria and dryness. When this is combined with hormonal problems, allergies, infections, poor diets, drugs or black of sleep, our eyes can be in a chronically poor state. But, as we use them each day, it’s not something we give time to address. We expect our eyes to just do the job.
Yet we should practice good eyelid hygiene – whatever our age. I’ll set out some of the procedures I’ve used to bring me back from the brink of blindness and hospitalisation after literally fighting for my life - and the warning signs to look for. Please do not wait till your eyes look a bit puffy, red, a wee bit greasy. Just dark rings under your eyes. Do your due diligence. They are YOUR eyes.
Don’t get me wrong: makeup is my job. I love it. I use colour corrector and concealer every day – on either clients or myself – but if you find yourself literally PAINTING it round your eyes and lashing on lightening powder, you may be making a serious problem worse. A good expressive eye starts with good eye health. Makeup can only go to town if the basics are in place. It may be cosmetic but it’s also scientific. It’s your health. Dark rings and puffy eyes are not remedied by eye gel packs and concealer if they are actually chronic cellulitis.
Many folk suffer with dermatitis – when the skin gets infected or reacts to an agent or allergen – but cellulitis is when the infection or reaction goes deeper into the soft tissues behind the skin. This is where your life is in danger because, once it’s in the bloodstream, it’s a whole different ball game; sepsis and your life or limb, let alone your face, is in danger.
I have a personal experience of this. For ages, I had a pain around my left eye. Harassed, busy NHS staff dismissed it as a migraine (even though I know what a migraine is) and my worries about a discolouring as vanity. It wasn’t till it got so bad, my eye started to swell that I finally got seen. Not that anyone had a clue what they were doing or gave me any antibiotics; they just told me to keep it clean and not wear makeup . Like that was an option; I couldn’t even see. It had been caused by a two-month old eyeliner and an oily cleanser but it resulted in orbital cellulitis which is a killer. It could have been caused by an inset bite, using a dirty towel, microblading, threading, a tattoo, cracked dry skin – any weakness in the skin barrier that making it vulnerable to the Staphylococcal bacteria.
Honestly, I just prayed. Each day. And vowed, if I ever got better, this would not happen again or to anyone else under my watch. I did my research. I did my study. I did my training. Thankfully, I did recover BUT, because I hadn’t had any antibiotics, the infection lay dormant and flared up again…by which time, I was more educated and demanded the right antibiotic. So, no, I do not trust the NHS. I may not be a medic but I have studied physiology at degree level and do understand basic dermatology.
Below is a checklist for all you minor sufferers of blephritis, dry eyes, puffy eyes, any eye problems. BEFORE YOU THINK OF PUTTING ON YOUR MAKEUP, do your cleaning. Look after your peepers, people. I know it’s cost of living crisis but, seriously, an old makeup product will end up costing you WAY more than a new one. Believe me.
I know this is a pretty brutal post but if only I had read one of these, I could have saved myself a lot of bother because, one last thing: once you’ve had orbital cellulitis, you are more likely to get it again. If I help one person sort themselves out before it turns ugly, I will be happy.