For the past few weeks, I’ve had a little problem. It started last month, when some late-afternoon mascara flakes fell into my eye. After a swipe of make-up remover, I felt fine.
Two weeks later, a dreaded sty appears. No problem. I swabbed that sucker with some antibacterial cream.
Cut to last week. I’m in Vermont with a house full of friends. The sty has come and gone — but my eye is still itching like crazy. Then, a red bloom appears: My eye is bloodshot. Then comes a laundry list of symptoms typically associated with a yeast infection: stinging and crustiness.
“Oh my god, you have pink eye!” my Vermont hostess accused. “Do you have any idea how contagious that is?” I spent the rest of the weekend self-isolating on the sofa, trying not to touch any common surfaces.
It’s doesn’t take an ophthalmologist to diagnose my eye’s meltdown. For the past four years, I’ve shellacked my eyelids daily with every metallic shadow sold at Sephora. Even for the office, the look is always topped with a swath of liquid liner and mascara.
The recipe for an eye infection is rather simple: Use make-up daily, touch a NYC subway pole, errantly scratch your eye, and just wait.
When you get an eye infection, there is protocol. First, you’ll have to chuck almost anything that’s ever touched that eyeball.
As soon as I got back from Vermont, I trashed my beloved blue YSL mascara and Kat Von D liquid liner. I chopped off the used nub of my Bobbi Brown purple liner, so I could salvage the rest of the pencil. Then, I washed all my cosmetic brushes twice — first with an antibacterial spray, then liquid soap. Next, I doused the brushes with scalding water straight from the tea kettle.
While my eye is slowly returning back to normal, I still consider this my Icarus moment — I flew too close to the sun, my wings melted and my vanity was the casualty. Because while my eye is recuperating, I am forbidden from wearing eye make-up.
Even I was surprised how different I felt without mascara, liner and shadow. In these photos, I am wearing a full face of make-up, including BB Cream, lipstick and blush. But I still feel completely exposed, like my unmasked face is as foreign as a Halloween costume.
My inner-feminist leanings tell me I should relish the opportunity to let my “I woke up like this” flag fly — but I’m counting the days until I can return to the comfort of my cosmetic case.
Have you ever gone without make-up for an extended period of time? Did it feel as strange for you as it does for me?