The Best Tips to Keep Eyeliner from Smudging (on Upper and Bottom Lid)

how to stop eyeliner from smearing

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How to keep eyeliner from smudging and smearing (hacks that work!)

Many of us love to wear eyeliner, whether in our daily makeup routine or for a night out, but have you ever looked in the mirror and found your eyeliner in places it is not supposed to be?

Often eyeliner can smudge on your top and bottom lids, or it can even smear under your eye.

I don’t know about you, but I do not like looking in the mirror and seeing raccoon eyes staring back at me!


But don’t worry!

Today we are looking at how to keep eyeliner from smudging, why eyeliner often smudges, some of the best eyeliners to avoid smudging, and a few steps you can take before and after applying your eyeliner to ensure that it stays in place all day long!

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy for details. 

Prep your Eye Area Well Before Applying Eyeliner

Before we look at a few of my favorite smudge-proof liners, there are actually a few steps you can take before you even put on your liner!

There’s more chance that your eyeliner will smudge if you don’t have an appropriate prepared base before applying it.

What exactly to do will depend on the tip of the lid (dry or oily) that you have and if you are using eyeliner on the bottom lid, upper lid, or both.

Here’s what you need to do:

Clean your face to remove excess oil

Cleaning your face before you put on any makeup is a good idea, but it is especially good to clean around your eyes to get rid of all of the excess oil that can often build up on our lids or under our eyes.

By cleaning your face with your favorite cleanser, you create a smoother canvas for all of your makeup applications!



Apply a lightweight moisturizer on your Eye area

lightweight eye cream to prevent eyeliner from smudging

After you have cleaned your face, applying a moisturizer is probably one of the next steps in your makeup routine.

However, if you are using a heavy moisturizer, you might be contributing to the smudging problem. Using a lightweight moisturizer is essential to prevent an excess of moisture on your eyelid.

If you love to use a thick, super hydrating under eyes cream like this avocado one, try to avoid them on the days that you will be using eyeliner on the bottom lid.

You only need a lightweight, normal moisturizer like this amazing one from Cerave in that area to make this works.

 Apply eyelid primer

Applying eyelid primer to prevent eyeliner from smearing

EYE PRIMER. I cannot stress this enough! It is important, it is needed, and it is more needed if you have oily eyelids.


This time we will avoid using concealer or foundation as a primer for our lids because we want something (like a good primer) that actually works to prevent our eyeliner from smudging.

Using an eyelid primer allows makeup to go on your face smoother and helps your makeup last longer.

It also holds your makeup in place, which helps to prevent your eyeliner from smudging on your top and bottom lids. 

My all-time favorite eyelid primer is this Potion Primer by Urban decay, which will not only prevent your eyeliner from smearing and smudging but also will make your eyeshadow makeup last literally all day!

Urban Decay, Eyeshadow primer

Set the primer with translucent powder

laura mercier translucent powder to set the eyeshadow primer before applying eyeliner to prevent it from smearing

Not only should you apply primer to your eyes, but you should also set your primer with a translucent powder to give your eyes one more layer of security before you apply your liner. This one here is the translucent/setting powder that I love the most!



PRO TIP: You don’t want to use a powder foundation or any powder with color here because we don’t want to add more layers of makeup. We just want to set everything we just did in place well before the next steps.

Use the right Smudge-proof eyeliners

best smugde proof eyeliners to keep eyeliner from smudge on upper and bottom lid

Now that your face is all prepped and ready to go, the next step is finding a smudge-proof eyeliner.

It’s really important to find the best eyeliner for you to prevent eyeliner from smudging on your lids, especially for the upper lid if you have hooded eyes or have the problem of getting eyeliner on your eyeshadows after hours

OR the bottom lid if you love to apply eyeliner there, but sometimes you can end like a panda. (it has happened to me!)

Below I am highlighting, based on my experience, a few of my favorite pencils, eyeliners, gel eyeliners, and pens!

FOR THE BOTTOM and UPPER LID:

Best Smudge-proof Pencil Eyeliners

best smudge proof pencil eyeliner to stop eyeliner from smearing under eyes

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil: This eyeliner pencil is especially fun because it comes in 34 different colors (plus a few glitter pencils).

This pencil is also waterproof and stays in place for 24 hours! Finally, it is paraben and cruelty-free!


 NYX Long Lasting Eyeliner Pencil: This eyeliner pencil is not only affordable, but it is one of Ulta’s best-selling eyeliner pencils on the market. I love that this eyeliner stays on for a long time without smudging along the waterline or lids.

This pencil is also made with a hydrating formula, so it glides on your eyes smoothly.

 Maybelline Tattoo Studio Eyeliner Pencil: Maybelline’s Tattoo Studio collection promises to stay on as well and with the same precision as a tattoo, and that is true of this liner.

It stays on for 36 hours and doesn’t smudge or smear onto your eyelids. It is also waterproof and sweatproof!

 Best Smudge-Proof Gel Eyeliners

MAC Pro long-wear gel eyeliner

MAC pro-long-wear gel eyeliner: This gel eyeliner has the precision of a liquid eyeliner without smudging. It is waterproof and lasts for hours of wear.

It is also sweat-proof and humidity-proof. I love its highly pigmented formula, which creates bold and daring designs. 


Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Eyeliner: This gel eyeliner comes in three colors, and it is waterproof. It is also an oil-free eyeliner, so your eyes will feel lighter and it is less likely to smudge!

Finally, this eyeliner is long-lasting, and it is specifically made with sensitive skin in mind.

Best Smudge-Proof Pen Eyeliners

HAUS LABORATORIES by lady gaga Eyeliner Pen: This pen eyeliner is my top recommendation especially if you have hooded eyes where extra skin on your eyelid falls down on your mobile lid, and you struggle to find an eyeliner that stays in place.

This is like a permanent marker! Really! But it isn’t so don’t worry, you will remove it easily with an oil-based eye makeup remover.

Elf Intense H20 Proof Eyeliner Pen: I love this eyeliner pen because it is waterproof, and it also has a gorgeous matte finish.

It is also made with Vitamin E, so it hydrates your eyes, instead of drying them out as some eyeliners do. Plus, it is cruelty-free and vegan.

Revlon Colorstay Eye Pen: This is another affordable option that is highly pigmented and long-lasting.

It literally last 24-hour wear and it is waterproof and transfer-proof, so your eyeliner will stay right where it belongs. Finally, it is easy to apply without skips or uneven lines. 

Glamentic So Vivid Eyeliner Pen: This pen comes in 4 bold and vibrant colors, and is perfect if you are looking for a fun and smudge-proof pen.

It keeps your vibrant eyes looking sharp all day long, and it is praised for not smudging or smearing. 

Now that we talk about the best eyeliner options you can choose to keep your eyeliner from smudging, let’s keep going with the next tips and tricks to do to prevent your eyeliner to smudge.

Related Makeup Post: Top 15 Best Drugstore Waterproof Eyeliners!

Avoid Liquid Eyeliners


Unfortunately, liquid eyeliner is not your friend when it comes to avoiding smudges.

Oftentimes, many liquid eyeliners will bleed into your waterline or your top and bottom lids instead of staying in place, like some of the pencil and gel formulas.

This is because the liquid formula is typically water or oil-based, and doesn’t have the same tacky quality that smudge-proof eyeliners contain.

It is especially common for liquid eyeliners to smudge onto your lower lid, so make sure to check out one of the products above instead!

The only liquids we want to use to prevent eyeliner from smearing are those pen waterproof eyeliners that I mention above.

NOTE: The only liquid eyeliner that I approved and I know it will not smear, is this super cheap one here.

It drys kind of like a sticker that you can remove easily without smearing your eyelid, but it also tends to be dry and overuse you can get your eyeliner removed even when you don’t want it to remove it.

So that’s a good option only if you don’t allow your eyeliner to dry, and buy a new one very often. Luckily is super cheap so, that doesn’t bother me.

Related Makeup post: How to Apply Makeup: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

 Curl your lashes before applying eyeliner

Curling eyelashes before applying eyeliner

Do you curl your lashes after you apply your eyeliner?

If so, it may contribute to your eyeliner smearing and smudging.

Placing the eyelash curler on or near your fresh eyeliner can definitely risk moving it out of place. Instead, be sure to curl your eyelashes before you apply your eyeliner!

Apply only the amount necessary

The saying “less is more” is definitely true when it comes to eyeliner.

If you want to prevent smudging, try using less product.

If you like a dark and bold liner, be sure to check out one of the highly pigmented options above so that you aren’t using a lot of product to achieve your desired shade.

Set your eyeliner with eyeshadow

setting eyeliner with eyeshadow

Just like when you set your foundation before you applied eyeliner, you should also set your eyeliner as well.

The best way to do this is by setting it with an eyeshadow that is the same color as your eyeliner.



PRO TIP: Even though I strongly recommend applying a matte eyeshadow on top of your eyeliner for the bottom lid, you can avoid this step and still get good results. But this is NOT OPTIONAL if you are using pencil eyeliner for the UPPER lid. Try using a small flat top brush like this one to ensure extreme precision when setting your liner.

Set your under eyes with translucent powder

You shouldn’t just set your eyeliner, but you should also set your under eyes as well.

If you find your eyeliner smudges under your eyes often, applying a translucent powder will help to keep your under eyes looking eyeliner free!

Related Makeup Post: The Best tips and tricks to finally STOP concealer from Creasing Under eyes (TUTORIAL)

Make the smudge eyeliner makeup look

smugde eyeliner makeup look

Perhaps you are open to trying out a new look and having a little fun with your eyeliner. There is actually a smudge eyeliner look in which you smudge your eyeliner on purpose!

Try smudging your eyeliner with your eyeshadow, but in a way that you like so it will stay in place all day!

I can’t imagine a modern eyeshadow makeup look, without a little bit of this type of eyeliner application. Especially on the bottom lid.

The days when a black, thick and precise eyeliner on the bottom was a thing are no longer anymore! We want to always seek a smooth, blended eyeliner and eyeshadow combination on the bottom lid.

Set your makeup with setting spray

Finally, after you have applied all of your makeup, be sure to use a setting spray to keep it all in place.

This is a perfect final step to ensure your eyeliner doesn’t smudge or budge! My All-time favorite and top recommendation for setting spray is this one by Urban Decay!

Avoid touching your eyes to protect your eyeliner

not touching your eyes to protect your eyeliner from smearing

One more tip: try not to touch your eyes during the day.

Sometimes we might find ourselves rubbing or touching our eyes throughout the day, and it can be detrimental to all of the hard work you put into your eyes that morning.

Instead, leave your eyes alone and let them steal the show!

Related Eyeliner post: How to Apply Eyeliner if you have Hooded Eyes (FULL TUTORIAL)

Final Tips on how to Keep your eyeliner from Smudging

Having smudged eyeliner is the worst! Luckily, there are a few things that you can do before you even put on your eyeliner to make sure that it stays in place all day.

Plus, having a smudge-proof eyeliner is extremely important. Try avoiding liquid liners and finding a pencil, pen, or gel eyeliner that is waterproof for better results.

You can also take a few steps after you put on your liner to make sure that it is perfectly in place. Say goodbye to smudged eyeliner and hello to sharp wings and lines!

Related Makeup Posts:

The Best Tips to Keep Eyeliner from Smudging (on Upper and Bottom Lid)

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