For those times when even your most beloved of mascaras just isn't quite enough, false lashes offer a great alternative. More dramatic than mascara, but without the commitment, upkeep, or cost that comes with professional extensions, falsies offer the best of both worlds. That is, unless you find that the glue needed to keep them in place makes the application process messy and annoying.
Enter magnetic eyelashes, which work in tandem with, you guessed it, magnetic eyeliner. Touted as a quicker, easier alternative to traditional, adhesive-based false lashes, there are more magnetic options on the market than ever before. But are they safe? Ahead, board-certified ophthalmologist Diane Hilal-Campo, MD, cosmetic chemist Yashi Shrestha, and Kara Curry, senior director of research and development for Younique, answer that burning question and weigh in on everything else you need to know about magnetic eyeliner and eyelashes.
Meet the Expert
What Is Magnetic Eyeliner?
Like any regular eyeliner, magnetic eyeliner adds pigment and definition to the lash line. The difference? Magnetic eyeliner also provides a unique "adhesive" for magnetic lashes; it contains iron oxides, which act as a magnetic ingredient, explains Hilal-Campo. It's important to note that you can't buy magnetic eyeliner on its own and it's not something you'd ever use solo. Instead, it's always paired with false lashes. (Magnetic eyeliners are also usually liquid formulas, FYI.) In short, the liner takes the place of the glue or adhesive you'd need with traditional falsies.
What Are Magnetic Eyelashes?
Magnetic eyelashes are pretty much the same as any other set of falsies, with one key differentiating point. Magnetic eyelashes have teeny-tiny magnets at the base of the strip. The magnetic iron oxide in the eyeliner and the magnets on the lash have the opposite charge so they attract one another and stick together, explains Curry. Swipe on the liner and the lash will grab right onto it, no glue required. (There are also magnetic falsies that don't require the use of an accompanying liner and instead feature two sets—each of which has magnets—that you sandwich over and under your natural lashes.)
Are Magnetic Eyeliner and Magnetic Eyelashes Safe?
Theoretically yes, magnetic eyeliner and lashes are safe, though with a few important caveats. As mentioned, there's no adhesive involved, which is a positive in and of itself. The adhesives used with false eyelashes can have cyanoacrylate in them, a formaldehyde donor that's irritating to the ocular surface and toxic to the meibomian glands that produce the oils for tears, notes Hilal-Campo. Plus, "iron oxides are generally considered to be safe ingredients and are found frequently in makeup and skincare formulas, including sunscreens," she adds.
All of the experts we spoke with felt that magnetic eyeliners (and lashes) are generally safe for most people to use. However, Hilal-Campo says it's still best to reserve them for special occasions, rather than using them daily; any kind of falsies can be a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to eye infections such as pink eye and blepharitis, she notes.
Who Should Avoid Magnetic Eyeliner
Some people can be allergic to iron oxides, which is why Hilal-Campo advises that everyone do a test patch of the product on their inner wrist before applying it to their eyelids. If your skin doesn't react after 24 hours, you should be okay to proceed, though obviously if you experience any type of sensitivity or irritation around your eyes discontinue use immediately.
If you have any medical conditions or pre-existing eye issues, it's always a good idea to consult your optometrist or ophthalmologist before using magnetic eyeliner or eyelashes, notes Shrestha. And if you know that you have dry or sensitive eyes, Hilal-Campo says it's best to not risk it and skip these altogether. That being said, if you are going to try them, proper use and removal is extremely important, too.
How to Safely Use (and Remove) Magnetic Eyeliner
"Apply the eyeliner only to the skin of the upper lash line, never on the waterline, which can be harmful to the eye," cautions Hilal-Campo. (She adds that using a clean brush every time, rather than the included applicator, can go a long way toward avoiding infection.) Let it dry for two to three minutes, but keep your eyes closed during this time to prevent transfer, says Curry, who also underscores the importance of avoiding the waterline. The lashes should then pop right on.
When it comes time to take everything off, slowly and gently pull up on the lash band, using either a lash applicator tool or your (clean) fingers, says Curry. Start at the outer corner and work your way inward, she suggests. Gentle is the name of the game here, as using too much force can not only potentially damage the lash but also increase the risk that the magnets get inside your eye, notes Shrestha.
To remove the eyeliner, Hilal-Campo suggests using an oil-based makeup remover; it can help to both melt off stubborn makeup and nourish dry skin, she says. "Rather than rubbing the delicate skin of the eyelids, which can cause irritation and skin laxity over time, press and hold a makeup remover-saturated cotton pad against the area, or use a cotton swab for a more targeted approach. Repeat until all traces of makeup are gone," she says.
Once your eyes are clean, it's important to clean your lashes—again, this will help both maintain their integrity so that you can reuse them and mitigate the likelihood that they turn into a petri dish. Curry advises gently rubbing magnetic lashes with a cotton swab soaked in an oil-free eye makeup remover to clean off residue: "This helps the magnets last longer," she says. Then, gently run another cotton swab soaked with 90 percent rubbing alcohol along the lash band and magnets to help remove any bacteria and leftover residue, she says. Use a lash comb to separate the lashes and lay them on a clean, flat surface to dry. Once they're fully dry, store them in an acrylic lash box, out of direct sunlight.
And while it hopefully goes without mentioning, as is the case with any type of eye makeup product, Shrestha warns that you should never share your magnetic eyeliner or magnetic eyelashes with anyone else.
The Final Takeaway
Magnetic eyeliner and magnetic eyelashes offer an admittedly easier, less messy way to rock false lashes. So long as your eyes aren't sensitive, you confirm that you're not allergic to the liner, and you use and remove both the lashes and liner correctly, they're safe for most people. However, it's still best for your eye health to reserve them—or any other type of false lashes—for special occasions only.