What Are the Most Common Eyeliner Ingredients?

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  • Written By: Dee Jones
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2019
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Eyeliner is a common cosmetic used by many to highlight and define the eyes, making them look bigger, wider, more dramatic, or more alert. While there are many types of eyeliner, most use three basic types of eyeliner ingredients, including film formers, thickening agents, and pigments. Those who prefer eyeliner that doesn’t contain fragrances or preservatives often choose natural or organic eyeliner. People have been using eyeliner for thousands of years, and there is evidence that eyeliner was used by the peoples of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and India. There are many types of eyeliner, including eyeliner pencil, liquid eyeliner, powder eyeliner and cream eyeliner.

All eyeliners generally use the same basic kinds of eyeliner ingredients. Film formers allow the eyeliner to be applied to, or deposited on, the eyelid. Thickening agents allow the eyeliner to stick to the eyelid. And pigments give eyeliner its color, be it blue, brown, black, or green. While many commercial eyeliners also contain fragrances and preservatives, it is possible to find natural and organic eyeliners that do not.


Eyeliner ingredients each have advantages and disadvantages. The eyeliner pencil is the type of eyeliner in most common use, and is favored by many for its ease of application. Liquid eyeliner can create a sharper, more defined line than an eyeliner pencil, though some find liquid eyeliner harder to apply, and more prone to smudging. Powder eyeliner can be found in either pressed powder or loose powder form, and is often preferred by those who want a softer and more natural look. Cream and gel eyeliners glide on smoothly, so users don’t have to worry about the eyelid tugging that can result from using pencil eyeliners.

People have been using eyeliner for thousands of years, both for cosmetic reasons, and as protection from the sun. Some researchers also believe eyeliner might have been used in ancient cultures to ward off the evil eye. There is evidence that eyeliner was used in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India. Common eyeliner ingredients used in those ancient times included kohl, lead, copper ore, and various metals that are now known to be toxic. Kohl is still being used today as an eyeliner ingredient, though in many areas, it’s prohibited because its use can lead to lead poisoning.


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