It’s no secret celebrities get paid to talk up certain products, but some of the products they promote are, well, questionable. Take, for example, the supposed eye color-changing balm Scott Disick recently posted on his Instagram. Really? Eye color-changing balm? We’re not so sure.
In the caption, Disick urges his followers to buy the product on Amazon, where a one-month supply sells for $55. Uh, that’s a lot of money if you ask us. He also indicates that he was indeed paid to post the photo.
In the product description, the brand, iColour, explains the balm (which comes in 16 shades, from sapphire to gray to honey) is supposed to be applied to the skin underneath the eyes, not directly in the eyes. It claims it will be absorbed through the skin, and “by inhibiting melanin production,” change the color of your eyes over time.
The product description reads: “Our eye balm is the safest way to change your eye color because the product never comes in direct contact with your eyes. The active ingredient is absorbed through the skin and reaches your eyes without any risk of contamination or allergic reaction.”
So could this really change the color of your eyes? “Simply put, not a chance,” Damon Pettinelli, MD, a New Jersey–based ophthalmologist, tells Health. The active ingredient in the balm is N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (GlcaNAc), which is a type of sugar, Pettinelli explains.
When used correctly, GlcaNAc has been proven to have some health benefits, but changing the color of your eyes isn’t one of them. It can prevent joint damage, protect the lining of the gut, and even reduce hyperpigmentation, or dark spots, that form on the face with age, he says.
GlcaNAc does lessen the appearance of dark spots on the face by reducing the production of melanin, the pigment that determines your skin color, but that doesn’t mean it has the same effect on the eyes. There are no studies analyzing its effect on the eyes, Dr. Pettinelli says, and even if a large amount of GlcaNAc were to be absorbed in the blood, it’s highly unlikely it would penetrate the blood-ocular barrier, which protects the eyes.
So no, this balm probably isn’t going to change the color of your eyes. But if applied properly, it likely won’t do too much harm either. “As long as the product is applied directly to the skin and not foolishly placed directly into the eye, the only damage that it will cause is to your wallet,” he says. (Think of all of the other things you could buy with $55 per month….)
Still, the balm could have some unwanted aesthetic effects. “If its use does eventually result in a reduction in periocular skin [the skin around the eyes] pigmentation, then, I suspect it could cause hypo-pigmentation [lightening] of the periocular dermis, resulting in a reverse ‘raccoon-eyes’ effect. Not a pretty look,” Dr. Pettinelli says.
Bottom line: Eye color is genetically determined. It’s not something that can be easily or safely changed. Some glaucoma medications are known to darken lighter eye colors over time, he says, but that’s something you should only take if you have a serious medical need.
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