15 Easy Ways To Prevent Your Eyeliner From Smudging

If you are someone who wears eyeliner, you’ve probably figured out a particular look that works for you. Perhaps you’re a winged liner enthusiast. Maybe you like a simple line right above your eyes, or, possibly, you’re more of a tightliner person.  In any case, no matter what your look is, and how often you choose to wear it, you have also almost certainly,  on at least one occasion, experienced the unfortunate affliction of your eyeliner smudging, smearing, or streaking–basically, any word that starts with “S” that you probably don’t want going on around your eyes.

Smudgy eyeliner can be A Look, of course, if you are going for that particular mussed-up, too-cool-to-care Kate Moss sort of thing. But if you are very much not going for that kind of thing, and genuinely want a clean, neat rim of eyeliner around your eye, smudgy eyeliner can be pretty annoying. At the very least. So, what’s an eyeliner enthusiast to do? Turn to some hacks, obviously! Eyeliner will probably always have some sort of tendency to run and bleed, but there are definitely things you can do about it. So, check out these easy ways to prevent your eyeliner from smudging right here:

1. Use a primer:


This is so important! Eyeshadow primer, like the one above (which you can buy from e.l.f. for $4.99) helps create an even base for your liner to stick to, so it isn’t slipping and sliding late on.


2. Make sure you set the primer, too:

nyx-finishing-powderBuy NYX Finishing Powder from Dermstore for $10

To ensure that your primer is extra effective, set it by dusting a small amount of translucent powder over your eyelids–this ensures that the effect of the primer will stay strong all day.


3. Make sure your face is clean:


If you haven’t washed your face, all the primer in the world won’t be able to stop your liner from getting messy–liner needs a good, clean base for it to stick, so make sure you’ve washed your face before you put anything on your eyes. (But don’t over-wash, either–this will actually make your skin produce more oil. Once or twice a day will do it.)


4. Try blotting your lids:

dinoplatz-blotting-paperBuy Dinoplatz Dear Brachiosaurus Oil Blotting Sheets from Sephora for $8

If you have oily skin, and use blotting sheets on your eyes already, why not use them on your eyelids, too? Don’t do this after you apply your makeup, of course–this will almost certainly smudge some things up–but dabbing a blotting sheet gently over your eyelids before you put on any product can help sop up any oil that might be making your eyeliner smudgy.


5. Match your liner with your skin type:

stila-stay-all-dayBuy Stila Stay-All-Day Eyeliner from Sephora for $22

Another thing to consider if you have oily skin is the type of liner you’re using. Try to stay away from soft and gel liners, which have the highest tendency to smudge, and go more for firmer pencil liners or liquid liner pens. You can still use whatever eyeliner you like, of course, but know that it might smudge a little bit more than it should.


6. Curl your lashes before you apply your eye makeup:


If you use an eyelash curler, don’t do it after applying your eye makeup–it’s just going to mess everything up this way.  Instead, curl your lashes before you put any product on your eye, or get a mascara that curls your lashes for you, like Benefit Roller Lash or Covergirl Katy Kat Eye. (Both of which work very well! I’ve tried them.)


7. Put concealer underneath your eyes:

it-cosmeticsBuy It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye from Sephora for $24

If you put concealer under your eyes before applying your liner, this can work as a sort of primer that prevents liner you put on your lower lash line from running.



8. Layer your liner:


Do a couple coats of liner. This might sound counterintuitive–lots of liner seems like it’ll lead to lots of smudge–but eyeliner actually has more longevity if there’s a couple layers going on. (But don’t do a raccoon eye. Unless that’s what you want! Use your best judgment.)


9. Set it with shadow:


After you finish applying your eyeliner, trace over it with a similar-colored eyeshadow. This will help set your liner without creating an ashy, dusty look that might come from translucent powder.


10.  Use waterproof mascara:

maybelline-full-n-soft-waterproofBuy Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Waterproof Mascara from Maybelline for $7.77

If your mascara is flaking and smudging, chances are good that your liner will, too. Waterproof mascara isn’t for everyone (I know some people who genuinely despise it) but if you really want to stop the smudging you have going on, this is a good safety step.


11. Don’t use liquid eyeliner on your lower eyes:


Liquid eyeliner works well on the top lid, where there’s more space and (usually) less moisture going on, but tends to bleed if you put it on underneath your eyes. Instead, put liquid eyeliner on the top. If you must have liquid liner beneath your eyes, make sure it’s from a pen (like Kat Von D Tattoo Liner), which won’t bleed as much.


12. Don’t line the corners of your eyes:



You know the inner corner of your eye? Right near your tear ducts? Don’t put any eyeliner there. There tends to be a lot of moisture in that area, so it’ll almost certainly get smudged if you put any liner there.


13. Make sure you remove the liner before you reapply:


Mess up when you’re putting on your liner? Do it over! Just make sure you’re removing your liner before you put on a new coat–if you’re putting on one makeup look over another, it has a higher chance of smudging.


14. Try a makeup top coat:

aqua-sealBuy Makeup Forever Aqua Seal from Sephora for $21

As a finishing touch, you can apply a waterproof makeup seal over your eye makeup. You definitely don’t need to do this every day, but if you’re in a particularly hot or humid climate, or know that you’ll be sweating a lot for some reason, this will definitely help you out.


15. Or setting spray:


Setting spray is more for your overall face, rather than a specific area (especially one as sensitive as your eyes) but using setting spray definitely won’t hurt if you don’t want your eyeliner to smear.



Do you have issues with smudgy eyeliner? Do you have any tips for dealing with it? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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