It started as a beauty hack. A TikTok makeup artist suggested using petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline) for watery eyes. Now, the TikTok trend is going viral; several million people have watched videos mentioning the petroleum jelly hack. But is it a safe thing to do? In this article, we delve deeper into the trend and the ways to reduce eye-watering.
New hack on TikTok for watering eyes
TikTok videos have shown a beauty hack to prevent watery eyes — the user dips a cotton bud in a petroleum jelly tub to apply a tiny amount of petroleum jelly to the inner and outer corners of the eye. Typically, this is done after wearing makeup. These videos claim that this prevents watery eyes, which makes makeup last longer.
How does this hack work?
Petroleum jelly, also known as petrolatum, is widely used in skincare. It is a colorless, odorless hydrocarbon, usually in a semisolid form. It is an excellent emollient found as a base of ointments and is commonly used for treating dry skin. Petroleum jelly acts as a barrier to prevent evaporation of water in the skin.
Tear glands are located in the upper outside corners of the eyes. They secrete tears throughout the day to hydrate and protect the eyes, which are drained from the eyes to the nose via the nasolacrimal duct. The opening of the nasolacrimal duct is located near the inner corner of the eye. If the watering is excessive, it is called epiphora.
Petroleum jelly forms a barrier film when applied to the corners of the eyes. It reduces tears from leaving the eye and, thereby, prevents watering. Petroleum jelly is not water-soluble; hence, it won't be washed away easily. However, using petroleum jelly in the eyes requires caution.
Is it safe to use petroleum jelly for watering eyes?
Using petroleum jelly in the eyes, as shown on TikTok, is associated with risk. Petroleum jelly tubs in homes are not sterile, and neither are cotton buds. It could introduce bacteria and other pathogens to the eye. In other words, it increases the risk of infection or other conditions, such as milia.
Petroleum jelly is considered hypoallergenic, but life-threatening side effects, such as dizziness or wheezing, are rare. Still, some individuals may be allergic to it. If you notice any symptoms, such as itching or redness, consult your doctor immediately.
While used as a base in several ointments, some users report that petroleum jelly causes unpleasant sensations (stings) when entering the eye. Hence, a better choice would be a gel-based ointment prescribed by your ophthalmologist.
Before employing any kind of treatment, let's examine why eyes water in the first place.
Why do my eyes water in cold weather?
Cold weather and dry winds irritate our eyes, and tear glands release tears to reduce irritation. For this, no medication is necessary, as more often than not, this condition resolves itself. However, if watery eyes persist beyond the winter season, it could be a symptom of:
- Foreign particles or smoke
- Nasal surgery
- Bone marrow transplant
- Bell's palsy
- Parkinson's disease
How to stop your eyes from watering
Eye-watering can be bothersome and interfere with activities like reading or driving. Here are a few simple tips to prevent eyes from watering.
- Cleaning. Rinse your eyes with plain water to wash off any foreign particles.
- Protecting. Use sunglasses whenever possible.
- Using humidifiers. Using humidifiers while indoors helps prevent dry eyes and excessive watering.
- Using eye drops. Artificial tears or anti-allergic eyedrops can help watery eyes. Your local pharmacist can help you to choose eye drops.
- Putting on a compress. Using an eye compress might help prevent eyes from watering. Hold a warm, damp cloth on the eyes and gently massage the eyelid.
These home remedies may offer immediate relief but need to be continued for a few days. Depending on the underlying cause, watering may start again. Doctors may advise treatments, such as antibiotics and antihistamine tablets, or prescribe eye ointments. In some cases, surgery to remove obstruction in the nasolacrimal duct may be necessary. Talk to your doctor if watery eyes persist for more than a few days.
What to do if nothing helps?
If eyes are watering profusely, it could indicate a pathological condition that needs medical intervention. Apart from watery eyes, if you notice worsening symptoms, such as any swelling around the eyes, vision loss, or droopy eyelids, consult your eye doctor immediately.
Overall, it's best to leave the TikTok trend to TikTok. While petroleum jelly is not toxic in itself, it is best to avoid putting any kind of ointment around the eyes unless it's prescribed to you by your doctor. Try home remedies for winter relief, but if the condition persists, book an appointment with your doctor.
What causes excessive eye watering?
The most common cause is cold weather or wind. Smoke or a foreign particle in the eye can also cause eye-watering. Pathological conditions, such as infections, blocked tear ducts, or Bell’s palsy, can also lead to watery eyes.
Can petroleum jelly really help with watering eyes?
Petroleum jelly forms a barrier film that prevents tears from leaving the eyes. It can offer temporary relief during the winter weather; however, this may not be the safest choice.
What are safer alternatives to manage watering eyes?
Home remedies, like cleaning eyes, using humidifiers, and eye compresses, may offer relief. Use over-the-counter eyedrops (artificial tears or anti-allergic eyedrops) as prescribed by your pharmacist. If the symptoms persist or worsen, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist.
- StatPearls. Assessment of the watery eye.