Is Waterproof Eyeliner Bad for Your Eyes?

Love waterproof liner? We have advice. Here's how to make sure it's not hurting your eyes.

Learn the lowdown on whether waterproof eyeliner is bad for your eyes

Eyeliner has been known to smudge, and if you’re somebody who likes to put on your makeup first thing in the morning and see it in the same place where you left it before you go to bed, eyeliner can be one of the biggest challenges. A solution to this problem is waterproof eyeliner, which has the reputation of staying in place all day long, rain or shine. The best waterproof eyeliners won’t smudge even a fraction of an inch after they’ve been applied.

Waterproof eyeliner is one of the major achievements of the makeup industry, allowing makeup wearers to go hours without eyeliner touch-ups, until they're ready to take it off. But just because waterproof eyeliner is long-lasting, that might not be all there is to the story. If you’ve been wondering if waterproof eyeliner is bad for your eyes, here’s everything you need to know about the beloved product and how it can affect your health.

Is Eyeliner Dangerous?

Generally speaking, eyeliner, including waterproof eyeliner, is not dangerous and won’t hurt the eyes if applied correctly. Of course, the key sentiment in that sentence is “if applied correctly.”

Eyeliner is made out of three main types of ingredients: film formers, thickening agents, and pigments. Eyeliners’ thickening agents can be made of materials such as wax, clay, and gums. However, before you start to worry, it’s important to note that these ingredients can be naturally derived.

Pigments contain different ingredients dependent on what color eyeliner you’re wearing. For example, iron oxides go into black and brown eyeliner, while titanium dioxide is used for white eyeliner. Chromium oxide can be found in green eyeliner, and ultramarine often shows up in blue.

While none of these ingredients are intrinsically harmful to the body when applied to your eyelids, you do want to be sure to keep them out of your actual eyes. In order to do this, avoid applying eyeliner on your inner lids, instead keeping it limited to your lid’s surface.

Tips for Keeping Your Eyes Safe When Applying Eyeliner

Along with only applying eyeliner to your outer lid area, there are a range of other actions one can take to help keep the eyes healthy when applying eyeliner.

For starters, always read the label of your eyeliner and lookout for harmful ingredients that can include lead, talc, urea, sulfates, and phthalates. You’ll also want to lookout for any ingredients that you might be allergic to, as an allergic reaction near your eyes is never something you want to have to endure.

Another useful tactic when dealing with eyeliner is to throw away products that are over three months old. Makeup doesn’t last forever, and just like food, eyeliner has an expiration date. While some products last longer than others, eyeliner’s shelf life is relatively short because of its increased chance of being contaminated with bacteria or fungus. Obviously, you don’t want an infected eyeliner getting anywhere near your eyes.

Avoiding glitter-based products is also a smart move for keeping the eyes safe while using eyeliner. As alluring as a glitter eyeliner might be, you risk getting sparkles in your eyes when you use it. Glitter, of course, causes irritation and redness when it gets into the eyes, and it can even lead to an infection if not removed quickly enough.

For those with particularly sensitive eyes, look for hypoallergenic eyeliners to avoid eye irritation when wearing makeup. Some cosmetics brands sell all-natural, allergen-free eyeliners that can be game changers when it comes to eye safety and reducing eye irritation.

Finally, you should never try to apply eyeliner while in a moving vehicle based on the off-chance that you might accidentally poke your eye or smudge some of the eyeliner into your inner lid. Always apply eyeliner in safe, well-lit environments where you can see what you’re doing and avoid making any immediate movements.

What to Do If Your Eyes Become Irritated

If you do find that your eyes are becoming irritated after putting on eyeliner, you should immediately wash the product off of your face and rinse your eyes with clean water. If the irritation persists, see a doctor as soon as possible to help prevent infection and negative long-term health outcomes.

Resources— Cleveland Clinic, Byrdie, HuffPost