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How to Create Smudged Eyeliner Makeup in 3 Simple Steps

Smudged eyeliner is trending; it’s perfect for creating a smoky, edgy look.
October 27, 2023

Smudged eyeliner can have one of two results: deliberate placement that kickstarts a haute look  or accidentally smeared liner that looks like you’re still wearing last night’s makeup. You want the former, not the latter, and when you’re not using the right formula, accidental smudging is an unwelcome result that can happen pretty frequently. 

With recent TikTok trends like “unapproachable makeup,” smoky latte makeup and the never-ending ‘90s grunge renaissance, smudged eyeliner is a vital part of all three, and it’s become an on-trend look that celebrities, influencers, runway models and normal people alike are sporting. Learn how to get intentional smudgy eyeliner, and eyeliner recommendations, below.

How to Make Your Eyeliner Look Smudged

When you’re hoping to achieve a smudged eyeliner look, you have to use the right type of eyeliner. Here are two things to consider to help you get the sultry smudge.

Use a Gel Eyeliner

To achieve a smudged eyeliner makeup look, one of the most important things is that you use a gel eyeliner that can smudge, like L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Mechanical Gel Eyeliner. Unlike liquid eyeliner that sets immediately, this gel eyeliner stays wet for a few seconds and actually includes a built-in smudger with the exact intention to create dramatic and smoky eye looks. 

Draw your line and quickly flip over the pen to smudge the line before it sets. When using this liner, we recommend doing one eye at a time so it doesn’t set. The formula is waterproof, transfer proof and smudge-resistant so once the liner sets, it will wear for up to 36 hours without budging. 

Layer Eyeshadow

Once you’ve created your smudged eyeliner, go over it with a similar shade of eyeshadow to further smoke the lines and set the liner. This is a simple step that can make a big difference in the result. 

How to Create a Smudged Eyeliner Look

Step 1. Start by using the Infallible Grip Mechanical Gel Eyeliner to line your upper and lower lash lines. Once you’ve created the lines, turn the pen over to quickly smudge the lines with the built-in smudger. To create a subtle cat eye effect, smudge the liner moving from the inner corner to the outer corner. 

Step 2. Once you’ve placed your smudged liner, take a similar shade of eyeshadow on a small blending brush (we recommend L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Pocket Palette Eye Shadow in Boudoir Charme) and go over the eyeliner to deepen the color. Use a small blending brush to create a gentle sweepiny motion to further smoke and smudge the line. 

Step 3. Once you’ve applied your eyeliner and eyeshadow, you have to turn your attention to your lashes. Since this eye look is naturally dramatic and grunge, you need a dramatic lash to accompany it. Generously coat your lashes with L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Instant Lift Washable Mascara — this formula provides lift and volume sans clumps. 

Does Setting Spray Smudge Eyeliner?

Setting spray does not smudge eyeliner, in fact, it does the opposite. It will set your eyeliner in place so it doesn’t move or smudge throughout the day. L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray and Set Make-Up Oil-Free Setting Spray is an oil-free setting spray that preserves your makeup and prevents creasing and smudging. Spray it over your face in an ‘X’ and ‘T’ motion. 

Should You Put on Eyeliner Before or After Setting Spray?

Apply eyeliner before setting spray so that the setting spray can seal and set the eyeliner for a lasting, smudge-proof finish. Applying eyeliner after setting spray would be counterproductive, and you wouldn’t get the same lasting effects. 

Next: Our Best Volumizing Mascaras for Stunning, Full Lashes


Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah

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