Friday, March 25, 2011

Beauty Basics: Is Your Makeup Application Aging You?

Let’s have a chat, girls.

We wear makeup to make ourselves look better, right? In all honesty, whether we realize it or not, most of what we do with makeup is to make our features look younger. Liner and mascara make eyes look bigger, blush makes us look like we have better circulation, etc. etc. But what if you learned that something many girls did everyday as part of their makeup routine is aging them? Hmmm.

So what are they doing?

Remember that liner that’s making your eyes look bigger? The problem is how it’s being applied. How many YouTube makeup tutorials have you seen or read makeup articles that say to pull your lid taught so that you can draw a thin, precise line? I swear, I cringe every time!

Some Science

The skin’s structure is held by a 'woven' system of proteins in the dermis called elastin and collagen.  Elastin lets tissue stretch and return to its original state while the collagen prevents the elastin from stretching to the point of breaking. Your body stops producing new elastin when it reaches maturity – or near the beginning of puberty. That means that’s when the aging process really starts. Eeeek, right?! So early!

Even though pulling on any area of skin can cause damage, the skin around the eyes is some of the thinnest and most delicate on the entire body so it’s more easily affected. Many girls don’t seem to take this very seriously, even after they’ve been told about the possible damage of their actions. I think this is because the damage isn’t immediately tangible to them.

But consider a rubber band:
If I take a new one and pull it as hard as I can, then let go; it will go back to its original state. So, I’ve done no damage, right? What if I pull that hard on it every day for 2 years. I highly doubt it would bounce back the same way on day 730 as it did on day one. The problem is that there’s not one day where it bounces back perfectly, and the next it falls limp. The damage is slow and cumulative; the damage can already be done before you’ve even realized it has started.

To make it worse: you pull on the skin to make it taught so you can apply the liner. As the skin loosens, you will have to pull it harder to get the same liner look, so the level of damage will be begin to grow exponentially.

I’ve seen a few try to justify it by saying that it does no more damage than rubbing on your eyes does or sleeping with your face laying on a pillow. Guess what – rubbing your eyes does damage the skin, but there’s a good chance you’re not doing this as consistently as you are applying liner, so the rubbing alone is less likely to cause as much cumulative damage. And why do you think a lot of dermatologists say they can tell which side of the face someone sleeps on based on how their skin is aging. Yea… damage.

So what to do?

I’ve mentioned it before, but not all liners are created equal. If one is so hard that you have to apply a lot of pressure to get a good line, then it’s not a good pencil to use. A lot of the pulling on lids is done so that the pressure applied with the pencil won’t pull the lid with it and create skips in the line. Use a soft enough pencil, and you won’t need to pull the lid. You can also use a liquid liner (which should apply opaquely almost regardless of pressure) or a gel liner with a brush. If I find that one of these makes my lid move with it causing the line to ‘skip’, I’ll take a finger and lightly press down on the outer edge of my lid to hold it in place – not pulling it one way or the other. That should be the most you need if you use the right product.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not faultless in this regard though. I was actually a compulsive lid puller until I was about 20 when I realized the damage I was doing. I am not averse to aging, it’s part of life, but I don’t want to do anything to speed it up!

Of course there are other factors that are responsible for wrinkling such as genetics, sun damage, smoking, poor nutrition, and dehydration.  However, as beauty junkies (which I’m sure anyone reading this blog is one), this is one of the factors that we’re most likely to be guilty of.

So any of you out there making a habit of pulling on your lids, KNOCK IT OFF!

Unless you’re interested in premature wrinkling. Your call.


  1. Amen. This is such a helpful post. I do sometimes pull on my lids, but not too hard. But still, I gotta stop doing that!

  2. I've never been a lid puller, it's just not needed :)

  3. EDM: Thanks, girl! I'm glad it was helpful. :)

  4. Jadegrrrl: That's really good! I wish I had never gotten into the habit because it was so hard to break! Thankfully I got through it, and no pulling for a few years now. :P

  5. I have to pull both my lid and undereye to be able to insert contacts into my eyes, so there's a lot of stretching going on. SIGH. I also rub compulsively after taking out the contacts. But I must say that I've stopped having to pull the skint taut for liners with the UD 24/7 liners. Fabulous fabulous stuff. Very thoughtful advice and post!

  6. Liz: I guess some damage will always be unavoidable, but I know you probably pull as little as possible. The thing that gets me with the liner application is that it doesn't have to happen to get the job done.


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