How to Keep Eyeliner From Smudging

by Kimberly Johnson

The right eyeliner can transform you from plain Jane to Cleopatra in a matter of minutes, making it a must in many women’s cosmetics bags. But when the liner inevitably smudges throughout the day, it can leave you looking more like a raccoon than a glamour queen. To combat this fatal flaw, use a simple layering technique to help keep your eyeliner in its place.

Saturate a cotton ball with a gentle facial toner and wipe the skin around your eyes to remove any existing oil or facial cream that will cause smudging later. Use care not to get any of the solution in your eyes.

Apply a liquid foundation to your eyelid and under-eye area to provide a base for the eyeliner. Blend the foundation in well and wait 30 to 60 seconds until it dries. Foundation prevents your skin's oils from causing the liner to smudge.

Apply a light dusting of translucent powder to your eyelid and under-eye area to further absorb any oil which may cause smudging. Opt for a powder with oil-absorbing microbeads so that it continues to work throughout the day.

Open a waterproof eyeliner in liquid or gel form. These forms stay put better than pencils and the waterproof aspect is more resistant to sweat and smudging due to humidity.

Apply the liner as close to the lash line as possible on the eyelid and along the lower lash line if desired. If applying a gel liner, dip an eyeliner brush into the jar and dab the liner on in a line. If you are using a liquid liner, simply draw a thin, continuous line across your lash line.

Close your eyes and spritz your face with two to three sprays of a makeup setting spray. These products are like hairspray for your makeup and help to lock it in place.

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Items you will need

  • Cotton ball
  • Toner
  • Liquid foundation
  • Translucent powder
  • Waterproof gel or liquid eyeliner
  • Eyeliner brush
  • Makeup setting spray
  • Eyelid primer (optional)
  • Eye shadow (optional)


  • Gel eyeliner dries very quickly, which helps make it stay put. When applying it, work fast and clean up any mistakes immediately before it dries.
  • You can opt to apply an eyelid primer instead of foundation. Primers work to keep your makeup in place and are effective for eye shadow as well as liner.
  • If you prefer pencil liners, apply it to the eye and set it in place by applying a thin line of identically colored eye shadow on top of it with a liner brush.

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images