Tracing eyeliner onto the inner rims of your eyelids can give your eyes a bold, defined look. Unfortunately, it’s also the most unhealthy and uncomfortable way to use eyeliner — especially if you wear contact lenses or suffer from sensitive or dry eyes.
A small pilot study published recently in the journal Eye and Contact Lens Science and Clinical Practice found that when eyeliner is applied to the inner lid, glitter and pigmentation make their way onto the “tear film” (the eyeball’s protective coating) 15 to 30 percent more often than eyeliner applied outside the lash lines. Eyeliner applied on the inner lid also migrated onto the tear film faster than the eyeliner applied above or below eyelashes, and with either application, the glitter didn’t stop migrating until two hours after application.
To document the eyeliner migration, Dr. Alison Ng of the Centre for Contact Lens Research at University of Waterloo (formerly of Cardiff University in Wales) used video to count and then compare the many different glitter particles that migrated onto the eyes after different eyeliner placements.
Eyeliner compounds like wax or oil can irritate sensitive eyes or stain and smudge contact lenses, leading to increasingly obscured vision, Dr. Ng explained in a statement about her study. However, Dr. Ng’s research didn’t examine the potential for eyeliners to cause bacterial infections in users if cosmetics are old or shared, although other studies have documented this in the past.
Besides avoiding lining the inner lid, Dr. Ng offers the following advice for preventing potentially serious infections: “If you thoroughly sharpen your pencil eyeliner before each application and get rid of the stuff that’s stuck to the end, you’ll have a fresh tip which can help prevent infection. With twist-up eyeliner, cut some off the end before each use. And always make sure to fully remove eye makeup before bed.”