Makeup Situation: Lining Inside the Eye

How do you feel about applying eyeliner to the inner rims of the eyes? I see it in magazines all the time, and I've noticed some of my friends doing it, but is it safe?

It does seem kind of unsafe, doesn't it! Needless to say, I've flipped quite a few eyelids in my day and applied pencil liner to both the upper and lower inner rims with nary a negative result, but then again, I am a professional. I am very careful, and I am very clean!

I asked Douglas R. Lazzaro, MD, Chief of Ophthalmology at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, for his opinion on the safety of this makeup technique, and while I was at it I asked him where the makeup goes as it dissipates. I was relieved when he told me that in most cases it merely spills over onto what's called the tear film (the film of moisture covering the eye) and exits through the tear ducts.

As for safety, Dr. Lazzaro says he has seen patients with particles of makeup incorporated into the surface of the eyelid skin, causing a slight discoloration. He says although this poses no serious medical risk, it's certainly not an ideal situation.

Still, and this is important to note, in some cases eyeliner pencils and their particles can cause inflammation or infection of the eyelashes called blepharitis, sites Lazzaro. For that you'll need to see a doctor for treatment.

If you're still game, follow these tips for applying eyeliner to the inner rims of the eyes:

  • Make sure your hands and nails are clean of any dirt and oil before your go near your eyes.
  • Check that nails are smooth, without any ragged edges because a shard or rough edge from your nail could scratch the eye.
  • Use only a clean pencil, which means sharpening it prior to each use (with a clean sharpener) and not sharing with anyone. On shoots, I assign one pencil to each model, period -- no sharing.
  • Be aware that you may be allergic to the ingredients in a pencil, in which case, itching and redness may occur. So it may be a good idea to test the pencil outside the eye area for a day or two before you attempt lining the inner regions.
  • Don't apply in a rush. If you're anxious or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you run the risk of inadvertently poking yourself, in which case, you would risk scratching your cornea (the transparent part of the eyeball which covers the iris and pupil).

In closing, except for the dangers listed above, this makeup practice isn't unsafe

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