Does Eyeliner Cause Blindness?

Sophia Panych, Allure magazine

Yesterday, a makeup artist excitedly went at the inner rims of my eyes with a felt-tip liquid liner. I know, I KNOW-it felt so wrong, but it looked so right! Afterward, my eyes felt a bit uncomfortable, like the feeling you get when a lash or piece of dust flies in there. (To be fair, I'm not sure if the liner was actually irritating or if I was just imagining it.) I decided to do some investigating to find out whether using liquid liner on the inner rims is actually dangerous or if I just have an irrational fear of pinkeye and blindness. Here's what the experts say:

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Cosmetic Chemists Say:
"All chemicals or ingredients used in cosmetic products for the eyes must be tested, proven, and documented to be safe for the eye area," says cosmetic chemist Joseph Cincotta. "No reputable company would ever use chemicals not proven safe. Avoid unknown brands or dollar store cosmetics, and you can't go wrong." That said, the eye area is delicate, and some people are more sensitive than others. "There are preservatives and polymers used for water resistance that could be potentially irritating," says cosmetic chemist Nikita Wilson, who doesn't recommend putting anything that close to the eye area (but admits it is common practice).

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The Ophthalmologist Says:
"Honestly, you're not going to go blind or anything terrible like that. However, liquid liner will likely migrate into the eyelid wall, making the eye red and irritated- if that happens, you'll definitely be uncomfortable for a couple of hours," says Marguerite McDonald, clinical professor of ophthalmology at New York University and an adjunct clinical professor at Tulane University. "It's better to use pencil liners because they are designed to stay put."

The Makeup Artist Says:
"Some makeup artists are obsessed with long wear makeup, and would use a gel liner like one from M.A.C. or Bobbi Brown on the inner rims if they wanted it to last. But using a true liquid liner? I think it's just too messy," says makeup artist Quinn Murphy. "Honestly I prefer pencils. They're easy to use and won't look too heavy."

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The Bottom Line:
Liquid liner is safe to put in the inner rims of your eyes but maybe not the best idea. Sure, it can create a dramatic effect, but is that worth the possibility of smeary, red, watery eyes? Depends if "sad vampire" is the look you're going for.

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