(Almost) Never Touch Your Face, Especially Your Eyes

By Minji

  • Lasik surgery helped me cultivate the habit of not touching my eyes
  • I attribute my lack of crow’s feet to 21 years of not rubbing my eyes
  • Be careful with the rest of your face too – especially, cell phones can be super filthy!

I was 22 years old, sitting in the emergency room, and not able to see a thing.  I thought I might go blind.  Luckily, it was just a scratched cornea caused by some bad contacts and I would regain my vision.  However, the doctor told me I was done with contacts for good.  As much as the thought of Lasik surgery scared me, I wasn't ready to fathom a life of 24/7 glasses.  I reluctantly went under the laser.

The real shocker came after surgery when the doctor warned me against rubbing my eyes for at least a couple of weeks.  Doing so could dislodge the flap made in my cornea during surgery and cause serious damage.  I was so anxious about my eye flaps falling off and possibly going blind that I gave up eye rubbing then and there – not just for two weeks but perpetually.  And not just eye rubbing – I rarely ever touch my eye area or my face.  The few exceptions are when I’m putting on or taking off makeup, applying eye cream or engaged in some kind of face massage.  And even then, I take a deep breath first and do it as gently as I can.  21 years later, I attribute Lasik to my lack of crow’s feet.

Whenever someone starts rubbing their eyes or otherwise harshly touching or rubbing other areas of their face, I have a hard time calming down my inner nagging Korean mom.  I want to yell, “don’t do that…! It’s giving you unnecessary wrinkles, aigo (Korean way of saying “ugh”)!!!” Touching, rubbing, creasing, tugging at your face are all culprits of stressed, wrinkled, and unhealthy skin.  These are bad habits to avoid like chewing your nails or shaking your leg (in Korean culture, they say this shakes out all your good luck). 

We should all work on mindfully combating these bad habits for our skin’s sake - in particular, around the delicate eye area.  If your eyes are so itchy you can’t bear it, use eye drops or splash water around them without rubbing.  Or try to focus attention elsewhere and before you know it, the itch will be gone (a meditation technique that sounded annoying at first, but actually works).

You also shouldn’t touch your face since your hands are usually dirty.  You've probably heard before that touching your face with dirty hands can cause breakouts.  We aren’t necessarily conscious about this, but as the day progresses, think about all the random unsanitary stuff our hands come across.  Pens, door knobs, computers, elevator buttons, staircase railings, restaurant menus, pepper and salt shakers, etc. 

The worst offender by far is your cell phone.  There was a study not long ago that found that cell phones carry ten times more bacteria than most toilet seats – super gross, right?  Hopefully you wash your hands every time you use the bathroom, but do you wash your hands after every call you take or text you send?  The answer is probably no and more likely than not, most of us are mindlessly touching our faces constantly throughout the day after our hands touch our filthy phones.  Every time we do, we’re increasing the chances of the dirt, oil and bacteria from our hands getting onto our faces and causing skin issues. 

I know it can be an extremely difficult habit to break, but let's vow together to try to be more mindful of instances where we put our hands on our faces, in particular, the delicate eye area.  No need to get Lasik like I did, but in case it's helpful, maybe you could just pretend your eyeballs might fall out if you do?