- Dr. Brittany Carver-Schemper shared a video on TikTok warning against using eyeliner on the waterline.
- Applying makeup like this can clog up special glands and dry eyes, she says.
- At the time of writing, TikTok about a patient who does not have clogged eye glands has about 13 million views.
- Visit the Insider home page to find out more.
The doctor encourages people to stop putting eyeliner on the waterline, and her TikTok explains why it went viral.
Dr. Brittany Carver-Shemper, optometrist from Fayetteville, North Carolina, posted a video on July 15 in which 204,000 TikTok subscribers warn of the dangers of applying eyeliner to the waterline. Video, which shows her patient cleansing her eye glands, has since amassed nearly 13 million views.
A TikTok video shows Dr. Carver-Schemper using a blockage remover to clear the eye of a patient who has been applying eyeliner to the waterline since adolescence. In the video, the doctor explains that there are special glands on the waterline of the eye that secrete oil.
In normal cases, the secret is assumed to have an “olive oil” texture. But when eyeliner is repeatedly applied to the waterline, the ophthalmologist says the oil can become more like “toothpaste.”
Dr. Carver-Schemper, a medical practitioner for 20 years, said: “The reasons eye doctors do not recommend applying eyeliner to the waterline of your eye is because there are specialized glands that produce and secrete oil.”
When the oil has an unusual consistency, she says, it means the glands are “clogged” and “don’t produce healthy tears.”
In an email to Insider, Dr. Carver-Schemper elaborated on the long-term effects of blocking these glands.
She said the glands at the waterline of the eye “produce and secrete an oily layer of our tears that protects the tear film and keeps our tears healthy.”
“Without good quality oil and healthy tears, we will develop dry eye disease, which can affect our vision and cause discomfort in our eyes,” she added.
“We see many patients applying eyeliner at the waterline, and almost all of them have some degree of glandular damage,” said Dr. Carver-Schemper. “We need to avoid applying liquid eyeliner or eyeliner to this area to keep our eyes healthy.”
She also explained that other factors, including using a phone or tablet, can lead to dry eye disease. “Blinking helps to flush fat from the glands of our century,” she said. “When we focus on computers and electronic devices, our blinking rate is reduced by 60%, resulting in thickened oil and clogged glands.”
Marisa Garshik, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, told Insider that the glands Dr. Carver-Schemper talks about are known as the “meibomian glands.”
“When makeup is applied to an area known as the waterline, it can potentially block glands known as the meibomian glands, which secrete an oily substance that promotes tear film formation, which can subsequently lead to dry eyes or irritation,” Garshik said.
But, according to Garshik, there are actually some products that are “formulated with a waterline in mind, so when used correctly they are less likely to cause problems.”
She also referred to small pilot study she had seen and found that applying eyeliner to the lower lash line was more likely to contaminate the tear film.
However, Garshik also said the study had an important result. “Any contamination was considered temporary, as after two hours the eyes returned to their pre-application level,” said the dermatologist.