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In her quest to translate the science of ocular surface disease to layman-speak in 2002, Amy Gallant Sullivan, executive director and co-creator of the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society (TFOS), got curious. “I wondered how the use of cosmetics could affect the surface of the eye.” After discovering that major cosmetic companies weren’t eye-friendly, she decided to make the products herself. The end result: Eyes Are The Story, “Beauty Rooted in Eye Science.”
She ruled out working with a private label cosmetic company quickly, as that option does not permit innovative-formula-creation. “I really had to be convincing with my idea for prime-time manufacturers,” she says, “and the labs were intrigued because the industry hadn’t thought about eye makeup that way before. It was slightly disruptive, bringing together two industries—beauty and pharma.” After much strategic negotiation, she made the products with labs in Canada, Italy and the U.S. With the support of her Medical Advisory Board Leslie O’Dell, OD, FAAO; Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD, FBCLA, FAAO; John Gelles, OD; and Christopher Starr, MD, FACS, Eyes Are The Story products were launched the first week of May 2020.
MEETING HIGHER STANDARDS
While the Eyes Are The Story line currently is sold only in North America, the products are made with EU standards, ready for the day they move across the pond. “I did testing, or rather the equivalent of clinical trials for makeup,” she says. In her trial, all the subjects were people with dry eye, sensitive skin and/or eyes or contact lens wearers.
“In the U.S., it is not obligatory to do U.S. Food and Drug Administration testing, but in Europe, clinical trials are required in order to prove any marketing claims. So, anything written on the packaging has been validated. All the ingredients are listed.” Eyes Are The Story ingredients include hyaluronic acid, the natural antioxidant resveratrol, olive leaf extract, plant-based calendula, aloe gel and the nutrient-rich powerhouse of trigonella foenum-graecum.
FOCUS ON EYE HEALTH
While she’s eager to spread the word within the optometric community, Gallant Sullivan does not see these products lined up with other commodity beauty products. “I wanted the story of eye health to be the underlying mission of the products,” she says. “It’s a good place to grow from; they’re not just another cosmetic.” The products are currently available for retail through medical professionals or online direct-to-consumer.
The sleek line offers a cleanser, moisturizing serum, liquid eyeliner, refreshing eyelid towelettes and—a product many women said they couldn’t live without—mascara. While all the makeup items are currently available in black, Gallant Sullivan plans to expand, but she wanted to start with the classics.
MUST-HAVE PRODUCT LINE
When it came to determining which products the line should launch with, Gallant Sullivan polled people on what they felt they must-have, particularly women with sensitive eyes. Generally, respondents said that they would prefer using an option with a cleaner or healthier solution. Women with sensitive eyes also requested products that would make them feel comfortable and beautiful, as dry eye patients in particular often find that eye makeup can be very irritating. “Women will suffer for beauty,” she adds.
As for the mascara, the star product in the line, Gallant Sullivan saw an opportunity to address another problem proactively. “Most women will keep mascara for months on end. The current recommendation is to replace it every three months, but for safety and hygiene reasons, it really should be monthly.” Eyes Are The Story mascaras come in a box of three mini tubes—the equivalent to one full-sized tube so patients will run out of the product more quickly, replace more often, and in turn, ideally lessen the chance of infections.
Bringing more awareness to the impact cosmetic products have on our eye health is a key aspect of Eyes Are The Story, and therefore a way to encourage conversations ODs have with their patients—male and female. “We have had several conversations on how to begin talking about beauty and hygiene routines with your patients… Male ODs are often cautious when speaking with female patients about makeup because cosmetics are not traditionally their area of expertise, but they should be.” She recommends asking open-ended questions about beauty and hygiene routines, in order to better uncover how patients’ lifestyle choices are impacting their ocular surface. While also acknowledging that ODs don’t typically have much time to chat, she suggests a brief questionnaire with traditional patient paperwork ahead of the appointment.
“It’s important to talk to the patients, not just about a new cosmetic line—but, to begin the conversation with their lifestyle choices.”
Visit eyesarethestory.com to learn more about the individual products as well as read blog entries from ODs and others about the ocular health and beauty. The website, generally directed to consumers, will include a doctor locator and dry eye specialist locator.