BEAUTY CLINIC: Can I wear make-up with dry eye syndrome?

 Jo and Sarah answer real questions from readers: to put your query, go to

Q I have been told I have dry eyes, which often feel sore and gritty by the end of the day. The optometrist says I should be careful with eye make up. Can you advise on this and is there anything else I can do?

A Dry eye syndrome is very common these days, largely due to the amount of time we spend at a screen. The underlying problem is we don’t blink enough when we’re focused on a computer. Research shows that we blink one to three times per minute sitting at our screens, compared to a natural healthy level of 15 to 20 times a minute.

Every time you blink, your eyelids spread a cocktail of oils and mucus across the surface of the eye to prevent them drying out. Blinking also protects the eyes from irritants. If the blinking rate plummets, your eyes are likely to suffer as you describe. Other symptoms are eyes feeling tired and heavy, blurred vision and headaches.

London based eye surgeon Dr Sabrina Shah-Desai, who is very concerned about the rising tide of dry eye syndrome and also blepharitis [inflammation of the eyelids], has several suggestions for eye make up.

· Never take mascara right down to the roots. Just colour the ends, preferably with a product that does not contain lengthening or thickening fibres. For greater impact, use eyelash curlers.

· Avoid powder eye shadow, especially anything with glitter. Instead use liquid eyeliner rather than eye pencil, which may migrate into the eye. Dr Shah-Desai’s personal favourite is a Bobbi Brown product, such as Long-wear Gel Eyeliner, £19.50 in ten shades. We have just discovered Code 8 Precision Liquid Eyeliner in Carbon Black, which has an easy to use, very fine tip. £28 from BUT no ‘tight lining’ inside the eye rim, insists Dr Shah-Desai, practically shuddering at the thought. 

· When choosing eye make up, always look to see that it is ophthalmologist tested for allergens, not just dermatologist tested.

· If you experience any sensitivity reaction, stop immediately. Never use old eye make up or leave the container open. Don’t pump mascara wands into the product as it invites contaminants. Mascara should be disposed of after three months.

· If you wear a light-blocking eye mask at night, do keep it scrupulously clean to ensure bacteria don’t breed. Remove eye make up with a targeted product for sensitive eyes.

· For foundations/concealers around the eyes, Dr Shah-Desai recommends a specialist brand like Oxygenetix Oxygenating Breathable Foundation, which is safe to use on upper eye lids, under the lower lash line for dark circles, and in the shadowy corners either side of the nose. Oxygenetix is available in some clinics (aesthetic doctors are big fans) and online, in 14 shades. There’s a useful colour chart at 

Dr Shah-Desai has also devised a three-step eye health regime using two leading brands, Optase and Optase, both available nationwide and online. Products are preservative free.

Step 1 Heat: You have about 70 oil (meibomian) glands along your eyelids. If these glands get blocked, it can cause irritation and dry eyes. Try using an OPTASE ® Moist Heat Mask, £10.99) daily to stimulate these glands. Heat for 25 seconds in a microwave then relax as your eyes are soothed. NB If you find this is too hot you could steam eyes over a bowl of boiling water with a towel over your head – brilliant for skin and sinuses too.

Step 2 Cleanse: The skin around our eyes is the thinnest and most delicate on our whole body so it needs a specialist product. Cleanse with OPTASE Tea Tree Oil Lid Wipes, £9.99 for 20. Gently pressing the lids helps stimulate oil glands.

Step 3 Hydrate: Very watery eyes can actually be a symptom of dryness. Apply HYCOSAN® Dual eye drops – just one drop in each – to help moisturise dry eyes and reduce itching and burning. If you find the pump dispenser awkward to use, try OPTASE Eye Spray, £15.99, which contains omega-3 rich sea buckthorn oil plus hydrating sodium hyaluronate.

Beauty Bible loves… 

Aromatherapy Associates Support & Travel Edit, £33. 

We’re all going on a summer holiday… And you can bet that we’ll be packing this. In fact, though we’re not 100% sure this bag is ‘airport security approved’, we’re going to keep our fingers crossed and pack this sturdy see-thru zip-up bag with our hand luggage beauty essentials.

Multi-award-winning Aromatherapy Associates showcase some of their travel must-haves in this Support & Travel Edit. Here’s what you’ll find – and why we love it…

Multi-award-winning Aromatherapy Associates showcase some of their travel must-haves in this Support & Travel Edit. Here’s what you’ll find – and why we love it…

Support Breathe Roller Ball – if you find travel stressful (um, who doesn’t?), this is brilliant for centreing and calming yourself, and also as a bit of a pick-me-up before you land, with its easy-breathe-y blend of eucalyptus, tea tree, pine and peppermint.

Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Gel – massage this into legs at 37,000 feet – and also after that hike you’re going on, to ease weary muscles. A fusion of black pepper, lavender, ginger and rosemary, it’s ideal ‘to de-stress your body after spending too long in one position…’ Perfect for long-haul, then.

Support Lavender & Peppermint Bath & Shower Oil – a two-treatment size of this wonderfully balancing bath or shower treat. Unpack that case, run those taps – and let this make you feel human again.

Hydrosol Sheet Mask – the kit features one of these brilliant skin-replumping masks, to put back what Sahara-dry in-flight conditions take out. If you don’t want to scare your fellow travellers, slap this on when you arrive at your hotel and hear your skin slurp up the aloe- and hyaluronic acid-powered goodness.

Antu-Ageing Intensive Skin Treatment Oil – follow the mask with this luscious replenisher, with its heavenly rose and rose geranium scent. There’s enough here to last for at least a week of night treatments, we reckon.

If you don’t know some of these products, these are all good introductions. And if you do? You’ll appreciate just why we won’t be leaving home without this kit.