Is Your Makeup Dangerous? Study Shows Bacteria From Frequent Eyeliner Use Could Cause Infections

First Posted: Apr 01, 2015 03:51 PM EDT

Girls who are frequently re-appling eyeliner to their inner lid may be contaminating their eye. New findings published in Eye and Contact Lens Science and Clinical Practice show that some could be at risk for double vision due to excessive bacteria from using this type of makeup.

"We noticed that the makeup migration happened quicker and was greater when eyeliner was put on the inner lid margin," said lead study author Dr. Alison Ng, at the Centre for Contact Lens Research at Waterloo, in a news release.

For the study, participants wore glittery eyeliner outside the lash line and then on the inner lid area closer to the eye or along the waterline. Scientists found that within just a few minutes, between 15 and 30 percent more particles had moved into the eye's tear film when subjects applied eyeliner to the inside of the lash line than when compared to the outside of it. Furthermore, the makeup also moved more quickly into the eye when it was applied inside the lash line than outside of it.

Over time, eyeliner wears off of course. However, it can alter the tear film, adding to discomfort and damage to the eye, overall. Many ingredients in this makeup are a bit harmful, including oils, waxes, silicones and natural gums that can stick to eyelids and last over prolonged periods of time. With wear day after day, it can even result in eye irritations and redness from harmful bacteria that enter the eyes potentially causing infection and blurred vision. And those who wear contact lenses seem to be more susceptible to infection than others.

"People who wear contact lenses are most likely to notice some problems," added Dr. Ng. "If they have eyeliner stuck to their lenses, increasing deposits might cause vision disruption as the lens becomes cloudier."

Makeup, of course, can be fun to wear. However, Dr. Ng cautions that it's best to remove old bacteria from eyeliner pencil before use each time to prevent potential health problems.

"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," she concluded. "With twist-up eyeliner, cut some off the end before each use. And always make sure to fully remove eye makeup before bed."

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