How to prevent eyeliner from smudging

Written by lauren whitney
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How to prevent eyeliner from smudging
Eyeliner adheres better to a clean foundation. (Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Eyeliner dramatically enhances your eyes when you first apply it, but keeping the cosmetic in place for hours can present a challenge. Oil-based and wax-based eyeliners melt from body heat and migrate to the under-eye area. Powdered pigments have greater staying power and act as a dam to prevent eyeliner from shifting. Adding powder to both the unlined skin and to the eyeliner itself ensures a lasting application.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Tissue
  • Concealer
  • Translucent powder
  • Cotton swab
  • Flat eyeshadow brush
  • Dark eyeshadow

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  1. 1

    Blot your upper and lower eyelids with a clean, dry tissue to absorb any residual moisturiser or facial oils that could impede the adherence of the make-up to your skin.

  2. 2

    Apply a thin layer of concealer to the upper and lower lids, but not all the way to the lash line. Leave a concealer-free space for the eyeliner; the liner can cling to bare, clean skin better than to a layer of another cosmetic that could shift.

  3. 3

    Blend the concealer with the pads of your ring fingers, pressing and patting the concealer into place. Patting on the cosmetic gives it a smoother texture than dragging, and using your ring fingers avoids pulling delicate under-eye skin.

  4. 4

    Collect a small amount of translucent powder on the tip of a cotton swab and sweep it over the concealer to set the make-up.

  5. 5

    Apply eyeliner along the lash line and try to keep the make-up to areas of bare skin. Work the liner among the eyelashes as well as along the base of the lashes for an unbroken line of colour.

  6. 6

    Pick up a dark eyeshadow that closely matches the eyeliner colour on the flat edge of a small eyeshadow brush. Tap away any excess shadow and press the edge of the brush over the eyeliner. The layer of powdered colour will help the oil-based liner stay in place on the eyelid.

  7. 7

    Go over the eyeliner with the eyeshadow brush and press the powdery eyeshadow into the liner. Feather and blend the eyeshadow with the brush for a smokier line or leave a sharp delineation between eyeliner and concealer for a crisp liner style.

Tips and warnings

  • Pencil and gel eyeliners have less stamina than liquid liners, but produce a softer line.
  • Softer pencils apply more easily.
  • Use waterproof eyeliner for additional staying power.
  • Try different shades of eyeshadow as a setting powder for eyeliner.
  • Keep dramatic liner shapes like winged eyeliner symmetrical with a little time away from the mirror; after applying, do something else for a few minutes and return to the mirror to check for symmetry, correcting as needed.
  • Avoid lining the inner surfaces of the eyelids, as lining the eyes' inner lids can lead to eye infections.
  • Keep your concealer application light; a heavy application will sink into fine lines and give eyelids a crepe-like texture.

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