The Risks Of Using Wooden Eyeliner Pencils That You Probably Haven't Considered

By 2024, the number of eyeliner users in the U.S. could reach a whopping total of 95 million users — an increase of six million since 2011. However, global numbers are likely to be much higher, with the global eyeliner market worth billions of dollars. These figures reflect the sheer popularity of the much-loved beauty product, which is available in gel, pencil, and liquid form. Many consumers lean towards pencil eyeliner as their go-to beauty staple, making it one of the most popular and traditional choices. All you have to do is sharpen and go. The creativity is now in your hands.


However, while pencil eyeliner is great for creating a beautiful winged line, it also has downsides. In fact, some would argue that using a pencil product is quite a risky choice, especially compared to other eyeliners. Some of these risks are more easily avoided than others. We'll break down some of the most notable risks of wooden eyeliner pencils below, so you can decide whether it's the best product for you.

The wood could damage your eye

Even if you use a wooden eyeliner pencil often, you may not be aware of some risks. While this argument is not meant to stop you from using this beauty product altogether, being aware of the problem can help you take steps to lessen the chances of unwanted mishaps. So, what's the deal with wooden eyeliner pencils? Talking to Brydie, professional makeup artist Melissa Mangrum explains that when applying eyeliner, "wood residuals from sharpening are left that could damage the eye." Logically, nobody wants the irritation and potential eye damage that could result from tiny wooden shards falling into their eyes. Likewise, when you sharpen your pencil, the sharp points that may form as a result could potentially stab you in the eye, particularly if you make any sudden, jolty movements. It may also make your eyes sore when you drag the sharp wooden ends of the pencil across the top or bottom of your eye waterline. 


Although it may be challenging to avoid sharp bits of wood when using a wooden eyeliner pencil, there are some steps that you can take to mitigate such incidents. One option is to gently but firmly blow on your pencil after sharpening it to remove as many small shards of wood as possible. Another alternative is switching to another type of eyeliner altogether, such as gel or liquid. However, if your heart desires a pencil, be extra careful and avoid your inner eyelid. 

Pencil eyeliner could contaminate your eye

It's not only wooden shards that can potentially inflict damage to your eye, but also the product formula itself. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, found that pencil eyeliner can potentially contaminate your eyes and lead to irritation, in particular, if an individual applies the product to their waterline. Likewise, the study highlights a potential risk of eye infection if applied to these same areas of the eye. To mitigate any further complications, one of the study's authors, Dr. Alison Ng Ph.D., recommends "thoroughly [sharpening] your pencil eyeliner before each application and get rid of the stuff that's stuck to the end." She adds that doing so "can help prevent infection." Of course, you can always try to avoid applying eyeliner to your waterline too, which will make it harder for any product to get into the eye.


In addition to taking care of your eyeliner products as advised, you need to ensure that you use the correct tools. For example, a wooden eyeliner pencil will need an appropriate sharpener in order to get the best use out of it; otherwise, you could break it. Purchase a sharpener that is specially designed for an eyeliner pencil. Taking care of it will help to minimize your risk of complications.