Why Does Eyeliner Smudge? 8 Simple Reasons

If you’ve got problems with eyeliner smudging, we’re with the scoop on how you can stop it and give you our top picks for smudge-proof liners.

Why Does Eyeliner Smudge? 8 Reasons

So, why does eyeliner smudge?

The main culprit behind eyeliner smudge is oil, which all of us produce naturally, even on our eyelids. Keeping the skin from over-producing oil is key to makeup that lasts, especially around the eyes.

It’s best to start with a clean and moisturized surface, allowing your makeup to stick. 

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Benefits Of Wearing Eyeliner

Benefits Of Wearing Eyeliner

Even though smudge is one negative that can come from eyeliner, it’s canceled out by all the benefits that one can get, like:

Enhanced Shape

One of the most noticeable magics of eyeliner is the ability to change or enhance eye shape.

Playing with angles, lengths, and even colors is enough to elongate or round the shape of the eye.

More Definition

Adding a thin line of eyeliner is great for definition, sort of drawing attention to the eyes. It creates definition and depth, both of which make the eyes pop.

Intensified Eye Color

Black, brown, hazel, green, blue, and everything in between is intensified with eyeliner.

Whether it’s classic black or a corresponding color like violet or gray, eyeliner can make any color eye look vibrant and radiant.

Completes the Face

No matter if you wear a full face or the bare minimum, eyeliner has a way of adding the finishing touches to your final look.

It completes the face and makes you look more put together.

Why Does My Eyeliner Smudge? 8 Reasons

Why Does My Eyeliner Smudge? 8 Reasons

Getting the hang of eyeliner takes practice. Even if you got the line down, you might not have the motion down or know all the tricks of the trade. 

If your eyeliner is smudging, here’s why:

1. You Didn’t Set

Setting is like a shield for your makeup, working to make it last all day. 

Setting works by adding a dry product (i.e., powder) to liquid products, drying up excess liquid and oil, and making it look more natural. 

If you’re noticing that your eyeliner starts to move, you might need to set it in place.

2. You Didn’t Go Waterproof

Too afraid to go waterproof?

You’re not alone, though we promise it will change your life. Waterproof tends to stick better, staying put even in places with high humidity and moisture. 

Switching formulas and trying it out could take care of your issues really quick, so try it out.

3. Your Skincare

All skin types need tailored care to be their best and brightest. 

If you tend to be dry and use too much moisture or oily and use none, you could lead your skin to an unhealthy imbalance. 

This imbalance produces oils and can make all makeup sort of slide off.

4. You Skipped Primer

In the words of the infamous Nikki from Nikki Tutorials, “not to prime is a crime.” 

All liquid makeups glide on and stay on better when your face is primed, including eyeliner. Pop some primer on the lids and let it dry before you swipe a line across.  

5. Your Order is Wrong

Order is important when doing the eyes. 

You’ll need to curl your eyelashes before eyeliner and mascara and be sure to apply eyeliner first. 

Curl before and after adding eye shadow if needed, then go in with your eyeliner before you top off with mascara.

6. You’re Not Keeping Eye Shape in Mind

All eye shapes are different, some reacting better to different types of eyeliner looks. 

For instance, those with hooded eyes have to use extra caution not to go too high, as blinking can rub off eyeshadow and eyeliner quickly.

7. You Need to Take it Down a Notch or Two

While you might have your technique down, you may need to perfect it and take it down a notch. 

It’s best to line the eyes with small lines and connect them, making sure each part dries up completely before adding more.

8. You’re a Rookie

We’ve all been there and it’s true, practice does make perfect! 

You may need to play with different eyeliners, different shapes, and different methods of priming and setting, choosing the one that works best for your skin and your desired look. 

Also, remember that it is important to clean your eyeliner to avoid smudging.

You’ll get there, just keep practicing (and get plenty of makeup remover!)

How To Stop Eyeliner from Smudging (4 Ways)

How To Stop Eyeliner from Smudging

Now that you know the cause, how can you keep your eyeliner looking sleek all day? Stopping your eyeliner from smudging doesn’t actually have to be that hard.

Below, we’ll share some tips and tricks to help it stay put no matter how eventful your day gets:

1. Prime + Set

When you start to prime and set your eyes, you’ll notice a huge difference in the way your makeup sits and how long it lasts. 

One key tip to keeping your eyeliner from smudging is to prime and set. Let your eye primer set before adding a liner, allowing the liner to try before you set it too.

In this way, you can get looks that last 24 hours +, ready for whatever your day brings your way.

2. Resist the Urge to Curl

Today’s hottest loos are accompanied by long, curly lashes, which are possible with help from an eyelash curler. 

While it’s fine before liner, you should avoid curling after you’ve applied, avoiding any motion that could cause your eyeliner to smudge.

3. Choose Right for your Type

By now, you may already know your skin type. What you might not know is that you should choose products that work well with your skin type. 

The eyeliner comes in many forms, including pencil, liquid, gel, cream, and powder. You can even use an eyebrow pencil as an eyeliner.

Waterproof and powder-based liners are best for oily skin, while liquid and get are best for combination to dry skin. 

You may want to try out different types, finding which one lasts longer and looks best on you before choosing your type.

4. Layer it Up

Not only does layering keep your eyeliner from smudging but it also gives more dimension to your looks. 

Adding powder on top of a liquid line smooths and blurs imperfections, all while smoking out the lash line for a smoldered look.

Best Smudge-Free Eyeliners

Before we leave you on your own to practice your technique (you got this!), we’ll leave you with a list of the best smudge-free liners, all of which are perfect for rookies and pros alike:

Maybelline Liquid Pen Liner

1. Maybelline Liquid Pen Liner

The brush tip on this one glides along the lid so easily that it’s almost impossible to mess up. The grip is enforced with a hexagonal shape that’s comfortable for the fingers and the formula dries fast so there is no chance to smudge.

NYX Professional Epic Ink Liner

2. NYX Professional Epic Ink Liner

The liner is made with a precise tip for creating thin looks or building up to bold cat eyes. 

The formula is waterproof and perfect for all skin types, lasting in even the toughest weather conditions. Try it in brown or black, playing up your eye color with the perfect match.

Honest Beauty Vegan Liquid Liner

3. Honest Beauty Vegan Liquid Liner

Honest Beauty was born thanks to Jessica Alba, a renowned actress turned all-natural advocate. 

Not only is this formula vegan but it’s also cruelty-free, made with ethically-sources ingredients, and holding a price you can’t pass up. It’s flake-proof and smudge-proof, guaranteed to last 8+ hours looking flawless.

e.l.f H2O Proof Eyeliner

4. e.l.f H2O Proof Eyeliner

With a felt tip pen and a bold, rich color that looks good on every skin tone, this liner is a winner all the way around. 

It’s precise and made with tons of skin-loving ingredients that skip out on all the toxins. Plus, it’s waterproof, so it’s great for oily skin gals and for those who live in humid places.

Urban Decay Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner

5. Urban Decay Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner

No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to find a color to match it. Bold colors all the way to neutral classics are featured in this collection, all of them formulated with a dreamy and creamy formula. 

The ingredients list on this one is packed full of moisturizing oils and vitamins, waking up the eyes and perking them up for the day ahead.  

Keeping your eyeliner looking on-fleek has never been easier, especially now that you know the trick of the trade. Try these out the next time you get dolled up and prevent your eyeliner from rubbing and smudging throughout the day.