Does Eyeliner Hurt Your Eyes?

Published by Lance Kugler, MD on October 13, 2015

Kugler Vision in Omaha stresses the importance of proper hygiene and careful makeup use. While eye cosmetics like eyeliner, mascara, and eyeshadow can make your eyes stand out in a crown, they can also harm your vision if not used properly. At Kugler Vision, we want everyone to keep their eyes healthy. We encourage you to read and follow our eye care tips to keep your eyes healthy and beautiful.

girl applying mascara  Eyeliner Risks

Research has suggested that people who apply eyeliner run the risk of contaminating their eye and causing vision issues. When eyeliner is applied on the inner eyelid, it is likely to migrate into your eye, potentially causing damage. Eyeliner ingredients commonly include wax, oils, silicones, and natural gums. These ingredients are designed to make your eyeliner stay on, so they are difficult for the eye’s natural cleaning process to remove once they are introduced into the eye. When makeup enters the tear film, it can cause:

  • discomfort for those with sensitive or dry eyes
  • irritation
  • redness
  • bacteria entering the eye
  • eye infections
  • blurred vision

It is recommended that you apply liner to the outside of your eyelids only, avoiding the inner eyelid. Eyeliner in your inner eyelid, or waterline, increases your risk of vision problems. However if this is a makeup trend you plan to indulge in, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of harmful effects. To reduce your risks, simply sharpen your pencil eyeliner before each use to get rid of the buildup at the end. For twist-up eyeliner, you can cut off some of the end before each use to create a fresh tip. This simple habit can help prevent infection.

eye liner Contact Lens Concerns

Eyeliner, as well as other eye cosmetics, can cause various eye problems, especially for contact lens wearers. Eye cosmetics often leave deposits in your lenses that affect your vision and comfort, resulting in your eyes becoming dry and irritated. Contact lenses perform best when your eyes are clean and moist. When makeup is in the tear film, it can cause harm to your vision, comfort, and eye safety. To prevent eye cosmetics entering your eyes and causing damage, it’s important to first wash your hands then carefully and gently wash off eye makeup each night before bed.

The Dos and Don’ts for Healthy, Beautiful Eyes:

  • do wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics
  • do clean eye cosmetic applicators before use – wash or replace all your brushes and sponges frequently
  • do remove makeup before bed
  • don’t hold onto old makeup
  • don’t use dried out mascara
  • don’t share your cosmetics with a friend
  • don’t put you eye cosmetics on while driving or riding in the car
  • don’t put eye cosmetics on when you have an irritated or infected eye
  • don’t use eyeliner on the inner eyelids because it can get inside your eye

Take Our 60-Second LASIK Quiz to Discover Which Vision Correction Options May Be Ideal For You!

Lance Kugler, MD, is a specialist in LASIK and vision correction surgery and CEO of Kugler Vision. A proud Omaha native, he is passionate about improving lives through clear vision. Dr. Kugler serves on several national boards, and his practice is recognized internationally as a center of excellence. Dr. Kugler is one of the original founders of the Refractive Surgery Alliance, an international organization comprised of over 350 of the world’s leading vision correction surgeons; he also served as its first president. In 2019, Dr. Kugler was selected as a TEDx speaker, and delivered a talk in Omaha about the worldwide epidemic of nearsightedness and refractive solutions. Dr. Kugler is an Associate Professor of Refractive Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Truhlsen Eye Institute, has been published in many medical journals, and participates in numerous clinical studies to advance the field of vision correction surgery. Additionally, Dr. Kugler is proud to be a Board Certified Fellow of the World College of Refractive Surgery & Visual Sciences. Dr. Kugler and his wife are proud parents to five active kids. When he has a spare moment, he enjoys skiing, tennis, travel, and fine coffee.

Share This Article


Barbara Perkins

U am 53 years old. I have been wearing eye makeup since I wa 15. When applying mascara, it clumps in my
lashes I use a tissue to remove the clumps. When apply-
ing eyeliner on the outer edge of my lower eyelid, it
smudges and I look awful. I use a Q-tip or eyemakeup
applicator or a very small brush to smooth it out. I dust
just a hint of face powder around the eyeliner to smooth
it out I do not apply eyeliner to the inner lids or waterline

Lance Kugler, MD

Hi Barbara. Sounds like you’ve got some healthy beauty habits, by not applying any liner to the inner lids or waterline.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *