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HomeminewsMascara for Sensitive Eyes Launched with Accessible Packaging

Mascara for Sensitive Eyes Launched with Accessible Packaging

Melbourne ophthalmologist Dr Jacqueline Beltz has launched a clinically tested mascara that is formulated for sensitive eyes and packaged to be accessible for people with low vision. Following will be an eye cleansing balm, along with colourful eye shadows and eye liners because, she said, “I love colourful cosmetics” and “because make up isn’t just about looking beautiful, it’s about feeling powerful, in control and strong”.

Dr Beltz has found plenty of evidence to suggest there will be strong demand for her eye make up.

“On an anecdotal level, I know many people struggle to wear make up – they tell me in the consulting room or just in day-to-day life. And since launching the mascara, I’ve discovered the problem is even more widespread than I thought.

A cohort of participants with sensitive eyes wore the mascara every day for 28 days… we got excellent results

“In terms of sensitive eyes, the most common cause by far is dry eye. One of the biggest studies on prevalence of dry eye, which is about 20 years old now, was the Blue Mountains Eye Study, which found that 7% of adult Australians have some degree of dry eye. If you reduce that down to people over 50, then the number goes up to 57%.1

“Other data, since the pandemic, suggests the numbers are way higher.2 It’s even worse for women as we get more dry eye as we get older. There are many other causes of sensitive eyes like allergic eye disease, contact lens wear, and eye conditions like blepharitis, glaucoma, and surgeries and all of these can affect make up wear.”

With data suggesting 25% of women over 50 wear mascara every day, she said it was easy to extrapolate from the studies and her own experience that “there are a lot of people struggling to wear mascara because they have sensitive eyes”.

Three Years in the Making

Dr Beltz said the mascara was over three years in the making, with a world leading team of chemists working to develop the optimal formula.

“It began with market research, considering how I wanted the product to perform, the product claims I wanted to be able to make, and then preparing a product brief.

“I set out the absolute ‘nos’ – ingredients that must not be included, and the absolute ‘yeses’. It was important to me to have the mascara as natural as possible and I wanted beneficial ingredients – that’s why it has Manuka honey in it.”

After refining the brief, her lab sent several formulations to try. “And I can tell you a lot of those initial samples went on my eyes once and straight in the bin because it can be really hard to get it right. But once we had a product that I really liked, there was a lot of testing to be done – for regulatory reasons and then to ensure the claims that I’m making are accurate – because I’m an ophthalmologist and I want to get it right”.

Following initial testing over many months, a lab-based trial checked all the ingredients in detail (but not on animals) to ensure nothing was likely to irritate eyes or any other sensitivities. This was followed by a clinical trial run by an independent ophthalmologist.

“A cohort of participants with sensitive eyes wore the mascara every day for 28 days with subjective and objective measures at the start and the end – we got excellent results… which gave me the confidence to make the claim of suitability for sensitive eyes.”

With the world’s best mascaras made in Europe, Dr Beltz settled on Italy for her manufacturing base. Having spent a year of her eye surgery training there, learnt the language and come to understand the culture, she said Italy was a logical choice and the process of getting the formula right was “really interesting, exciting and fun”.

“I’m not a cosmetic chemist, but obviously I’ve studied a fair bit of chemistry and pharmacology, I can understand the techniques and research.”

It was the square packaging that was super complex, but it was a non-negotiable… And my branding also includes braille

Less fun was designing the packaging, which added a year to the timeline as she “scoured the world to find the right manufacturers” and found most were not used to delivering visual accessibility features, especially on smaller orders.

“It was the square packaging that was super complex, but it was a non-negotiable for me because I don’t want the mascara to roll out of sight and because it also needed to be sustainable… And my branding also includes braille. The reason the braille is there is to highlight the need for visual accessibility on products and ideally to start conversations. But having the braille printed on the package was quite a process.

“Samples were sent to me and I couldn’t feel the elevation of the braille. So I’d send them back and we’d try to figure out how to do it. And finally, we came up with a technique that created really excellent braille on our package. It was very challenging but I’m super satisfied with the result.”

Feeding a Creative Energy

As an ophthalmic surgeon, the co-president of the Australasian Cataract and Refractive Society, Director of Gen-Eye, and now beauty entrepreneur, it’s difficult to imagine how Dr Beltz manages to fit so much into her life. However, she told mivision, that it’s these projects that keep her engaged and feed her creativity.

“What I’ve learned is to choose projects that I really enjoy and that therefore give me energy. So I want to work with people that I like to be around. I want to work on things that I really want to do, things that will make a difference, or fill a gap that really needs filling. And I find in that way, I don’t resent being busy. I enjoy it.

“I also make sure I focus on whatever I’m doing in that moment. I don’t multi-task – we can’t perform to a high level if we are doing more than one thing at a time… So I try not to switch between tasks and get distracted. I think I’ve become pretty good at managing my attention, focus and energy, and that’s what helps me.”

Dr Beltz also commented on the opportunity for creativity in all her pursuits. “If I’m doing a really complex surgery, I’ll have to figure out problems. And I guess that can be creative. But the creativity involved in making a product and the packaging, and all the artwork and promotional materials, the marketing: that’s all new for me. I love learning, and make up is also just really joyful and fun.

For more information visit the Okkiyo online store: okkiyo.com.

1. Chia E.M., Mitchell P., Wang J.J., et al., Prevalence and associations of dry eye syndrome in an older population: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2003 Jun;31(3):229-32. DOI: 10.1046/j.1442-9071.2003.00634.x. PMID: 12786773.
2. 2022 Vision Index. Taking a closer look at Australians’ eye health. www.optometry.org.au/wp-content/uploads/GVFL/Vision_Index/2022-Vision-Index-Report.pdf.