Is Lining Your Lashlines Dangerous?

by Gio
apply eyeliner waterline

Back in high school, one of my friends decided to try tightlining. I had never heard of it then, but she swore it’d make her eyes more defined and her lashes look longer and fuller.

That was the idea. But when she gave it a go, she just stabbed herself in the eye with the pencil. Ouch!

Thankfully, she didn’t suffer any long-term damage, but the pain was excruciating. We both got the message: applying eyeliner to your lashlines is dangerous.

If someone as meticulous as she can poke herself in the eye with it, can you imagine what awful things could happen to someone as clumsy as me? The horror!

But, as the years passed and the memory faded, I thought my reaction had been a bit too extreme. I love the way tightlining defines your eyes and thought that, with some practice and caution, there would be no risk of the pencil slipping into my eye and doing some serious harm. It took a while, but I got the hang of it.

Applying eyeliner on the lower lashline is a lot easier. I love using a light shade, like cream or pale mint green, there. It opens up my small eyes and makes them look bigger (dark shades make them look smaller).

The problem now is to find a pencil that won’t disappear after 5 minutes! Not an easy task. The most longlasting I’ve found are Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils, but even they need to be retouched during the day.

But applying eyeliner on my lashline is something that still makes me uneasy. No, I’m not worried about poking myself in the eye anymore. It’s blepharitis I’m scared of getting:

What’s Blepharitis And Should You Worry About It?

If you look at your upper and lower lashlines closely, you’ll notice some little holes. They secrete Meibum, an oily substance that prevents your tears from drying up. When these little openings are somehow blocked, your eyes become dry. They can them become inflamed, causing blepharitis.

Although it usually doesn’t cause permanent damage (phew!), it’s still not fun to deal with it. Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, eyelids sticking together, and a gritty sensation like something foreign has got stuck inside your eye. So uncomfortable!

Should we stop using eyeliner on the lashlines? Well no. I still do so, just not every day. But even daily wear can be safe, if you’re aware of the risks and know how to avoid them. Here’s what you can do:

1. Apply Eyeliner Below The Lashline

Rather than applying eyeliner right on the waterline, try putting it on just below it. Wait a while, and some of the color will naturally migrate to the lower lashline (and even inside the eye). This way, your eyes are still beautifully defined and your eye glands remain (mostly) free and open.

2. Take It All Off At Night

Regardless of where you apply your eyeliner, some of it will end up in your eye. To avoid it blocking your glands, make sure you take it all off at the end of the night. I know it’s a chore and you cant wait to get into bed, but it only takes a couple of minutes and could save you a lot of discomfort later on.

Do you use eyeliner on the lashline and has it ever caused any problems for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Trisha July 14, 2015 - 2:48 pm

I think maybe I’ve gotten lucky, because I do this all the time and haven’t had a problem. Then again, I also wash my face, so…that’s probably why!

Gio July 14, 2015 - 8:29 pm

Trisha, this is one of those things you never think may happen to you until they do, isn’t it? But of course I hope it never will, and am so glad you never had any problems yet.

Janessa July 15, 2015 - 5:35 am

I always have eyeliner on the waterline! I use MAC chromographic NC15/NW20 daily and like to wear Marc Jacob’s Brown Out on the upper lashline, sometimes a bit of the waterline as well. Hmm, I didn’t know this! I’ve had issues with dry eyes in the past but have assumed it was my contacts.
I love the look of liner on the waterline though and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
I will be more cautious and perhaps focus more on the lashline but I don’t think my nude liner is as heavy as a black gel or creme.

Gio July 15, 2015 - 7:35 am

Janessa, I don’t think you should stop lining your waterline if you like it. Just make sure you remove everything carefully at the end of the day. That’s something a lot of us forget to do because we assume all the eyeliner has already disappeared, and that’s what can really cause problems.

Ana July 15, 2015 - 7:35 am

I loved lining my waterline when I was a teen, and didn’t have any problems with it, thankfully.

I have a question and think you’re the one who can help me with an answer:
Do moisturizing masks work, long-term?

I kinda get the impression that all the good effects of that kind of mask are very temporary – they are washed off the first or second time you wash your face after applying them.
If that is the case, it seems they are just glorified stronger moisturizers, and it’d have similiar effect if I just applied a thicker layer of my regular cream.

Gio July 15, 2015 - 8:02 am

Ana, I’m glad you didn’t have any problems with it.

And you’re absolutely right. Their effect is only temporary. I think they’re great to use when your skin needs a quick pick me up or for a special occasion, cos they give your skin that extra oomph. But it doesn’t last long.

I’m not sure applying a thicker layer of your moisturizer would do much, though. There is only so much product that can be absorbed by the skin. If you use too much, it’ll just sit there, and may feel uncomfortable too.

Ana July 15, 2015 - 8:38 am

Thank you, Gio ^_^ !

Gio July 15, 2015 - 11:40 am

My pleasure!

Allison July 15, 2015 - 3:29 pm

Gio, I have blepharitis and dry eye. It happens to some of us as we get older, unfortunately. To treat both, I take Restasis and I have tiny plugs put into those little holes by my ophthalmologist every 6 months to prevent the tears that my eyes produce from draining back. So it works the opposite of what you’ve written.

I didn’t know that essence made eye makeup remover. I don’t think it’s out in the US yet!

Gio July 16, 2015 - 6:35 am

Allison, I’m sorry you are suffering from both conditions. It must be so frustrating for you.

After receiving your comment, I did some more research. It seems that, if makeup clogs these tiny holes, it can cause inflammation and blepharitis indeed. At this stage, plugs aren’t advised. They could make the condition worse. They become an useful option after the inflammation has disappeared to keep the eye hydrated. But I will do some more digging and let you know what I find.

Jessica July 15, 2015 - 4:40 pm

I can’t line my waterline; it bothers my contact lenses.

It is incredible to me that there are people who don’t remove all their makeup every day…really?? That’s just basic hygiene…isn’t it??

Gio July 16, 2015 - 6:38 am

Jessica, I used to be one of those people when I was a teen… I couldn’t be bothered when I came home late at night :oops. Now, I shudder even just to think how reckless I was… I always remove everything now. You’re right it’s basic hygiene.

Shivani Rose March 22, 2018 - 12:07 am

I got that “condition once. It was terrible. I got it from applying my mascara too close to my lash line and accidentally getting some on it. I was always very good about removing all my makeup at the end of the day but it didn’t matter. The pore got clogged and infected. No amount of makeup could make that eye look normal. Eventually the swelling went down and I was left with hard bump under my eyelid…. like a very deep hard blackhead that you can’t squeeze out because it is larger than the pore it would have to travel through. I tried to hide it with makeup but if people got too close they would inevitably ask “what is wrong with your eye?” I eventually (after a year or two of trying other options or just trying to ignore it) had to get it surgically removed ( they flip your eyelid over, slice it down the back and get all gunk out). Ever since I have disliked mascara and when I do wear it, I am soooo careful not to put it near the waterline. I can not imagine intentionally putting makeup there! It is not worth the risk!

Gio March 23, 2018 - 8:00 pm

Shivani, oh no! I’m so sorry this happened to you, how awful! Thank you for sharing your story, hopefully it will prompt other women to stop lining their lashlines.

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