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.

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!

Want more? Check out my pick of the best pore-shrinking and skin brightening rinse-off peels for an instant glow, and load up on all the speedy secrets you need to sanitise your makeup sponges and brushes in a jiffy. Get your daily dose of beauty at