What's in Your Eyeliner?

These sticks are your secret weapon for notice-me eyes.

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The right eyeliner can make you look elegantly classic or smoky and dramatic, so let us help you choose.

The History of Eyeliner

The ancient Egyptians — both women and men — wore eyeliner, thinking it would ward off evil spirits and illnesses. (So that's where Johnny Depp got the idea.) Theirs had a lead base that can't be used in makeup anymore.

All the Many Types, Explained

Gel and Cream Liners: Gel and cream liners in both pots and pencils, combine a thickening agent with hydrators such as glycerin to create a soft, smudgeable look. Also in there: silicones or oils like hydrogenated palm oil to help them glide along the skin. Use gels or creams to make a smoky, sexy eye.

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Eye Pencils: Pencils may also have silicones or oils, but their base is a wax (candelilla and carnauba wax are common). They deliver subtle, matte color for soft and natural definition.

Liquid Liners: These guys are a mixture of water and oil and contain polyurethane (the same stuff used on floors, but in a form that's safe for cosmetics), which helps keep your nice, crisp line from running. They'll help you pull off clean, graphic looks, like a classic cat eye.

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The Deal With Waterproof Liners

They contain high levels of polyurethane (about twice as much as in liquid liners), which creates a film on the skin and holds the color in place. Because polyurethane isn't water soluble, it won't come off with H2O alone; reach for a cleansing oil or makeup remover to wipe it away.

What All Eyeliners Contain

Any eyeliner you use contains colorants to make them rich and dark or a pretty hue. Whether they're synthetic or minerals (like iron oxides and titanium dioxide), you don't need to stress about safety: The FDA regulates all color additives used in your cosmetics.

How to Create a Flawless Line

To create a super-smooth line, tilt your pencil slightly so that the edge, not the point, is against your lid. The flatter surface helps the liner glide along without skipping.

This story originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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