Hot Glue Eyeliner: A Poorly Named Trend with Potential Risks

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The latest makeup innovation is a a whimsy play that takes bold Y2K glam up a notch and it’s made with hot glue of all things. Taking the graphic eyeliner look to the 3D space, the idea is to freehand hot glue shapes on a flat surface before allowing them to dry. These designs are colored with eye shadow pigment and then placed artistically around the eye area.

It’s like adding rhinestones to your eye makeup, but way more tedious.

As anyone who’s ever tried to use a hot glue gun can attest, it’s very difficult to produce smooth lines or shapes. One person who has attempted this trend, Vanessa Funes, admitted on TikTok that it took her 75 tries to complete one look. Designs usually need to be cut down with scissors to appear symmetrical. Placement is also an issue, as these pieces of hardened glue can be uncomfortable and irritating if placed incorrectly.

How could it be dangerous?

Of course, anything involving hot glue has the potential to be dangerous, even if it’s just the tips of your fingers at risk. Because this trend is called ‘Hot glue eyeliner,’ it’s important to say here you should never put hot glue directly on your skin.

New York dermatologist Lesley C. Loss, MD explains the risks of this crafty DIY makeup. “It is worth saying that you should never use a hot glue gun near your face or on your skin in general. You can severely burn your skin from the glue gun itself or the heated glue,” Dr. Loss says. “It also looks like you have to use adhesive like eyelash adhesive to stick the glue forms to your face, so you should be cautious if you have a sensitivity or allergy to eyelash adhesive.”

Even if you’re using the glue gun correctly, using adhesives around the eyes can be risky.

New York dermatologist Elaine Kung, MD explains that the make up of quick-drying adhesives can irritate and even damage the eyes. “Cyanoacrylates are found in nail glue, instant glue, or tissue adhesives. Although cyanoacrylates are used medically in gluing the skin together for lacerations, there’s a risk of using cyanoacrylates near the eyes,” Dr. Kung says. “There are many reported cases of nail or eyelash glue causing burns, contact irritant rashes, and corneal abrasions.”

Engaging in this trend as literally described isn’t safe. If eyeliner goes around the edge of your eyes, on the sensitive skin just above our eyelashes, then this isn’t and shouldn’t be eyeliner.

“Using glue near the eyelid margin for 3D eyeliner may cause similar issues as using glue for false eyelashes,” Dr. Kung explains. “I stopped getting false eyelashes because my ophthalmologist told me that my cornea looked like it was sandblasted by glue.”

Can you do this trend safely?

If you look through the tag on TikTok, you’ll notice that a lot of people are designing facial ornamentation that mostly goes on the brow, forehead, and cheekbones. Calling it eyeliner is a potentially dangerous misnomer, as it implies an application much closer to the eye area.

But using hot glue, makeup, and skin-safe adhesives have been a part of special effects makeup for a long time. You can safely apply these designs to your face if you avoid the area immediately around the eye.

Just be careful with the hot glue!

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