Tips to prevent an infection or redness when using eyeliner

PHOTO: Shah Azhar

Is the sort of eyeliner you're wearing getting you in the red?

Because everyone and their mother's mother appears to be obsessed with eyeliner in Singapore, here's a prudent PSA: Your flirty feline flick may be causing eye infections.

Wait, what?

As it turns out, findings published in Eye and Contact Lens Science and Clinical Practice show that technique's to blame here.

Lining your lashline - or what's referred to in beauty vernacular as "tightlining" - may be putting your peepers on the firing line, so to speak, for bacteria to leap from your eyelid to your eyes proper.

The result? Bloodshot baby blues, double vision or worse.

Here's why. Bacteria festers quickly in the "wet" environment of liquid liners (which is why most formulations have shorter shelf lives than their pencil counterparts) and can choke off the circulation of lubricating tear ducts, leaving you with itchy, blood-shot peepers.

Take it from study leader Dr Alison Ng of the University of Waterloo, Canada, who cautions that tiny pencil particles can pile up and lodge themselves in the nooks and crannies between your contact lens and eyeball: "If they have eyeliner stuck to their lenses, increasing deposits might cause vision disruption as the lens becomes cloudier."

Somewhat ironically, it's the very same properties that make liner smudge-proof that's to blame for your sore eyes: "The adhesive ingredients in eyeliner, such as oils, silicones, gums and waxes, can be potentially irritating by way of their stickiness itself," notes celebrity makeup artist Larry Yeo.

And that sandpapery sensation in your eyes the morning after?

Chalk it up to the abrasive crystals in silica-containing shimmery formulas.

10 budget beauty hacks every Singapore woman must know

  • 1. Use your night moisturiser as a power-packed pre-cleanser: That pricey pot of fancy face cream you blew your bonus on is giving you pimples. What now? Don’t toss it out! If you suspect a cream is too rich for all-night use, slap it on before cleansing, let sit for five minutes, then take it all off. Beauty bonus: You’ll find that your warpaint slides off that much easier too, thanks to the extra lubrication.
  • 2. Lengthen the longevity of lip gloss: Press your gloss applicator into the centre of your pout, then slide it back and forth in one smooth pendulum-like movement. Wait a beat, then apply a second coat. Once you’re satisfied, blot softly with a sebum-absorbing sheet – the oils in glossy formulas are the main culprits of colour slippage. Voila, a Goldilocks-esque stain that hits the sweet spot between wet and matte, with the added benefit of being long-lasting to boot.
  • 3. Ice, ice baby: I swear by this incredibly cool if strange-sounding beauty hack: Simply ice in the morning. Hold a cold compress against your cheek for a minute or so, then pat dry. The plunge in temperature shrinks the skin’s blood vessels and takes care of puffiness, pores, ruddiness and such for instant Insta-ready skin.
  • 4. Ask for more seaweed with your hawker centre fish soup: Don’t forget to eat your sea veggies! This marine manna is so very good for you. The most direct beautifying benefits? Seaweed boasts a stress-alleviating stockpile of B-vitamins that bolster your body against fatigue by fortifying your adrenal glands – and this in turn will help to soothe stress-induced skin sallowness. Ask the canteen auntie for an extra spoonful in your fish soup the next time you’re lunching!
  • 5. A milky treat for a milky mien: My household’s magical ingredient? Milk of magnesia. While it’s meant to allay tummy aches, my little trick involves slapping it onto my skin to radically reduce the redness of rashes. How on earth does this embarrassingly simple solution work? As it turns out, the active ingredient in milk of magnesia (impress your chemist by saying magnesium hydroxide) is an excellent anti-inflammatory, making it great for balancing out blotchy skin. Simply dab onto affected areas, relax and kick off your kitten heels for a couple of minutes, then rinse off for smoother, softer skin.
  • 6. Try before you buy: The early bird catches the cream, so aim to arrive at the cosmetic aisles in the first hour of the store raising its shutters, when shoppers are sparse and you’re more likely to receive rapt attention from the counter crew. Beauty bonus: When foot traffic is light, the makeup consultant on standby will also be more likely to throw in a full face makeover, if that’s what you’re gunning for as well.
  • 7. Extend your extensions’ shelf life: "Eye" know how you like ‘em: The longer and thicker, the better. (Yes, we’re talking eyelash extensions here.) To make your falsies last longer, always peel away the gluey goop sticking to the spine after use. These clumps are a cesspool of bacteria build-up, and can weigh down upon and warp the natural curves of your eyelash band. To circumvent this sorry state of affairs, simply use a pair of tweezers to take off the glue, paying special attention to the inner and outer corners, where grime tends to gather. Bonus tip: Be extra careful during application by always keeping within the line of the spine – getting glue onto the hairs will mean the sticky kiss of death for that particular pair of falsies. Cheers to fluttering those falsies and faking your way to a fabulous time!
  • 8. Do this with your eyes wide open: If you’re particularly puffy from pulling too many all-nighters, try this neat little "eye-xercise" after applying your eye cream. Using clean fingers and starting from the inner corners, press gently for about five seconds. Inch outwards at five-second intervals: Five seconds of pressure close to the tear ducts; five seconds at the midway point directly below your pupils, and a final five seconds at the tapering end of your lash-line. This prodding of your pressure points prompts further fluid drainage, plus it'll feel pretty darn good after a long day of eyeballing your electronic devices.
  • 9. Nail whitening, anyone?: The trick to restoring your nails to their pristine pink state is the exact same as that for your pearly whites: Hydrogen peroxide by way of teeth whitening strips. Head to your nearest pharmacy and ask for off-the-counter hydrogen peroxide. (Scrutinise the label to make sure it doesn’t exceed the three percent concentration threshold; any greater and there’s no guarantee you wouldn’t well, get your fingers burnt.) In any case, mix one tablespoon of said three percent bleaching agent with about two tablespoons of baking soda. This creates a paste that you can plaster like polish over your nails. Wait a couple of minutes and wash off for perfectly pearly nails. Genius, yes? Told you I had "talon" for this sort of sorcery.
  • 10. Mix your very own lip balm: Here’s my super quick and super dirty recipe to transform any cream into a lip-loving lotion: Dump equal parts moisturiser and Vaseline jelly into a clean mixing bowl, give it a good stir, then stash the slurry into an airtight jar. Tadah! Your very own pucker-pampering treatment. Right, then. You know the drill: Spill the #deets if these tricks work for you, and do me a favour by sharing this story with your fellow beauty buddies. Cheers to a priceless complexion!

Eye got the solution

Want to err on the side of caution?

The researchers say you can slash your risk by restricting your makeup to the outer periphery of your peepers - that means no liner on your lashline or inner rim of your lids.

Oh, and always keep your makeup paraphernalia spiffy and up to snuff.

Here's Dr Ng again: "f 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. And always make sure to fully remove eye makeup before bed."

How to take it all off

Now, speaking of stripping off your makeup, all of us know that intensely pigmented glittery eyeliner can be a real pain to remove.

For that, Larry Yeo says inexpensive drugstore wipes can be used as a cotton-like receptacle for a stronger cleansing agent: "Grab a piece and fold it into quarters before saturating it with a good oil, like Shu Uemura's Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil or Shiseido's Ultimate Cleansing Oil."

"Press the wipe over the glitter-festooned area for about five seconds to loosen the adhesives, then sweep off in one deft, decisive stroke."

Prep another piece by soaking with cleansing oil and repeat until the wipe comes off clear.

Finally, here's a useful shopping tip: When scanning the beauty aisles, experts recommend actively avoiding products containing thimerosal, a relatively common preservative that can irritate the delicate orbital area and cause conjunctivitis.

Good luck, fellow bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ones!

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