How to Keep Mascara from Smudging

Published Categorized as Makeup Tips

Mascara makes your lashes look longer and fuller, which helps to highlight your eyes and pull together your entire makeup look. However, when mascara smudges, it can have the opposite effect and completely ruin your look. Learning how to keep mascara from smudging is essential to ensure your eye makeup remains looking its best.

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How to Keep Mascara from Smudging

There are a few reasons your mascara may smudge.  Finding the reason behind your mascara smudging can help you determine the appropriate solution to prevent mascara from smudging.  If you’re frustrated with looking in the mirror and noticing that your mascara has run or smudged, try one of these tips:

  • Stay away from cream formulas around the eyes: Want to know how to prevent raccoon eyes from mascara?  One tip is to avoid using any cream-based products around your eyes when you’re wearing makeup.  Creamy eye creams, eyeshadows, or eyeliners can make your eyelids or under-eye area too slippery.  This will make it more likely that your mascara will smudge.  Rather than using creamy products, opt for powders or gels that leave behind a matte finish.
  • Use blotting papers: One common reason mascara smudges is due to having oily skin.  Mascara ingredients, even those for waterproof mascara, are not oil-proof, and when the oils from your skin mix with the mascara it can cause it to break down and run or smudge.  Using blotting papers to dab oily eyelids and under-eye areas before applying mascara can help remove excess oil.  You may want to keep some blotting papers with you throughout the day as well to remove any new oils that form.
  • Use eye primer: Eye primer is designed to prepare your eye area for makeup.  They can help make a smudge-free foundation for your mascara.  Eye primer can help everyone, but if you have oily eyelids, you may find it particularly effective at providing an oil-free zone to keep your mascara from smudging.
  • Apply mascara to your bottom lashes first: You probably apply your mascara to your top lashes first, don’t you?  Most people do.  However, starting with the bottom lashes is actually best for keeping your mascara from smudging.  Since you lift your bottom lashes as you apply mascara to them, you don’t want to have already done your top lashes, as you may end up transferring some of the mascara from your top lashes.  After you apply mascara to your bottom lashes, let them dry for a few minutes before moving up to the top.
  • Separate your lashes: How do I stop my mascara from moving under my eyes?  Try separating your lashes by combing them with a spoolie after applying your mascara.  This will prevent the mascara from clumping and making your eyelashes stick together, which can make it more likely that your mascara will smudge.
  • Use a setting spray: When you need to know how to keep mascara on all day, makeup setting spray can be your friend.  Setting spray is designed to help makeup, including eye makeup, stay in place, making it a great option to try.
  • Try waterproof mascara: How do you keep mascara from smudging under your eyes?  Try waterproof mascara.  While waterproof mascara won’t really help if your mascara is smudging due to oil, it can help in many other cases.  However, be careful not to use waterproof mascara too often.  Since it is more difficult to remove, it can sometimes damage your eyelashes.

Best Mascara for Not Smudging Under Eyes

While no mascara is perfect, choosing the right one and using it alongside the tips we shared above can make a big difference. 

If you’re looking for mascara that doesn’t transfer under eyes, here are a few of our favorites:

Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara

When you look through user reviews for the They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara from Benefit Cosmetics, you get a glimpse into just how wonderful this mascara is.  Many users rave about how well the mascara stays on all day and that it doesn’t run or smudge.  This mascara is also great if you want to add volume or curl to your eyelashes for a truly spectacular look.  Additionally, it works to separate lashes and prevent clumping.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara Long-Wearing Formula

The Lash Power Mascara from Clinique is another of our favorite mascaras to try if you want to prevent smudging.  Clinique designed this mascara to provide 24 hours of smear- and smudge-proof wear.  It is designed to resist rain, tears, sweat, and humidity to keep your look on point all day.  Once you’re ready to remove the mascara, you’ll find that it comes off easily with just some warm water.  This amazing mascara is available in two colors:  black onyx and dark chocolate.

ILIA Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara

We also really like the ILIA Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara.  This mascara offers a long-wearing formula and is designed to separate and lengthen your lashes for that perfect look you desire.  The mascara is also free of harmful ingredients, such as parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, and mineral oil.  Many individuals who have tried this mascara have shared that they love the natural look it provides them and that they are impressed with how well the mascara stays on their lashes without smudging.

Milk Makeup KUSH High Volumizing Mascara

This volumizing mascara from Milk Makeup is formulated with special heart-shaped fibers that attach to your lashes in every direction to increase their fullness.  The hemp-derived cannabis seed oil in the formula works to help fuse these special fibers to your lashes to create a long-wear and smudge-proof mascara.  Milk Makeup’s KUSH High Volumizing Mascara is a gluten-free, cruelty-free, and vegan-friendly product as well.  If you ask users what they have to say about this mascara, many will share that it is one of their favorite products.  They love how it helps lengthen and volumize their lashes for all-day, smudge-proof wear.

Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

Finally, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly, smudge-proof mascara, we’d suggest trying Maybelline’s Great Lash Waterproof Mascara.  The waterproof formula is designed to resist tears, rain, and humidity for all-day wear.  Maybelline designed this mascara with a special lash-doubling formula that can help volumize your lashes for a gorgeous look.  Many customers are very happy with how this drugstore mascara lasts without smudging.

Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara, Very Black, 1 Tube
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Eye Makeup Smudging Tips

Want to avoid smudged eye makeup?  Use these tips to learn how to keep eye makeup from smudging under eye and to prevent waterproof mascara from smudging.

  • Apply concealer under your eyes to stop eyeliner from running and smudging.  Concealer will also help to stop eyeliner from getting into the lines under your eyes.  Additionally, applying concealer will help form a barrier between your eyeliner and skin to help the eyeliner last longer.
  • Apply eyeliner once, blot it, then reapply it again.  This can help it last longer and keep it from smudging or running.
  • Powder your eyelids before you apply eyeliner to help the eyeliner stay in place.
  • If you have oily sheets, use blotting paper before applying eyeliner or mascara to remove excess oil.
  • Use primer before applying eyeliner, mascara, or eyeshadow.
  • Use an eyeliner sealer to help your eyeliner stay in place and prevent it from running.


Does waterproof mascara smudge?

Waterproof mascara may smudge.  It is designed to be waterproof, meaning tears, rain, or other similar liquids shouldn’t cause it to smudge.  However, waterproof mascara is not oil-proof.  If you have oily skin, switching to waterproof mascara may not be an adequate solution to stop your mascara from smudging.

Why does my eye makeup smudge under my eye?

There are a few different reasons your eye makeup may be smudging.  Some possible causes for mascara or eyeliner smudging include oily skin, not using makeup primer, and not applying powder or setting spray.

Does setting spray stop mascara from smudging?

Yes, setting sprays are designed to work with mascara as well as the rest of your face makeup.  Applying a setting spray after doing your mascara can help keep it in place.

Why do all mascaras smudge on me?

If all mascaras smudge on you, it may be because you have oily skin.  The oils from your skin can cause mascara to run or smudge, even if you choose waterproof mascara.  If you have oily skin, be sure to use blotting papers before applying mascara and use an eye primer.

Keeping Mascara From Smudging

Do you feel ready to apply your mascara and keep it from smudging?  Have our tips and suggestions helped you learn a few strategies you can use to keep your eye makeup looking flawless all day long?  We hope so!

Learn more about your eyes and eye makeup in these related posts on our blog:

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