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Ingredients in Eyeliner

ingredients-in-eyelinerEssential Ingredients

When you look at the product information of eyeliners, you will find any of the following essential ingredients listed: alcohol denat, ammonium acrylates copolymer, carbomer, colorants, dimethicone, fragrance, glycerin, magnesium silicate, mineral oil, PEG-6 sorbitan oleate, polysorbate 20, propylene glycol as well as preservatives that extend the life of the eyeliner product.

Categories of Ingredients

These basic ingredients that are found in most forms of eyeliner products, may they be in cream, liquid or pencil form, can be categorized into film formers, thickeners and pigments, according to cosmetic chemist Nick Morante.

Film formers are ingredients that make it possible for the eyeliner product to deposit a layer of pigment onto your eyelids. Meanwhile, thickening agents like wax, gum and clay, make it possible for the product to stabilize and therefore stick to the skin. Lastly, pigments are the ingredients that create the actual color of the eyeliner product. Pigments range from dark black, brown, blue and even white.

Traditional Eyeliner

Eyeliner was not always made of these modern ingredients. In fact, eyeliners existed since the Bronze Ages, when ancient Egyptians and Indians used eyeliner made out of kohl to line the rims of their eyes.

Kohl and Lead Poisoning

The use of kohl-based eyeliners however is already prohibited in the United States. Kohl, as a color additive or otherwise, cannot be used or imported into the USA, according to the Food and Drug Administration of the United States Government.

According to the FDA’s Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, color additives such as kohl, are considered unsafe and thereby prohibited by law. In fact, there is an FDA Import Alert which bans the importing of products and cosmetics containing kohl because it has been found to be toxic and can lead to lead poisoning.



“Eye Makeup Products.” COSMETICSINFO.ORG . N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.

Goins, Liesa. “Eyeliner Ingredients, Applying Eyeliner, Types, and More.” WebMD – Better Information. Better Health. 26 July 2010. Web. 05 Jan. 2011. <

“Kohl, Kajal, Al-Kahal, or Surma: By Any Name, a Source of Lead Poisoning.” FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 7 Nov. 2003. Web. 27 Dec. 2010.

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