eye makeup 9 Reasons Why Your Eyeliner Always Smears

Plus, what you can do to avoid this makeup mishap.

Smudged Eyeliner

Mercury isn’t always in retrograde. So while we might want to blame all of life’s mishaps and spills on it, we do have to look at other factors. Chances are, when most things are going wrong it’s a simple matter of human error — that includes makeup messes like smudged eyeliner. Sure, it could seem trivial in the scheme of things, but after you’ve spent precious time perfecting your makeup look, smeared liner can be downright frustrating. Multiply the time spent doing your makeup by every time your eyeliner has smeared and you end up with lots of time wasted. Well, there are a few reasons that could be contributing to your unfortunate eyeliner fate. The good news is that they each come with a solution — one that has nothing to do with the motion of the planets. Read on to find out the reasons why your eyeliner smears and how to move forward with putting that smudgy eyeliner behind you once and for all.


1. You Skipped Makeup Primer

Did you forget or neglect to apply an eye makeup primer prior to applying your eye makeup? Just like when you apply a primer before your face makeup, an eye makeup primer preps your skin for your eye makeup and helps increase its lifespan.

The Solution

This one is pretty self-explanatory — use an eye makeup primer! If you’re in a pinch, a dab of concealer or foundation will do the trick.


2. You’re Not Using Waterproof Eyeliner

Many eyeliners, including ones with a kohl or cream formula, aren’t waterproof. While these are great if you want a liner that can easily be applied and blended for an intentionally smudged eyeliner look, they aren’t ideal if you want to make your precisely applied eyeliner stay in place throughout the day and night. This is especially true if you’re applying eyeliner to your waterline.

The Solution

This is another easy one — invest in an eyeliner that’s waterproof! Swap your liquid eyeliner for one with a smudge-resistant formula, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner or the L’Oréal Paris Matte Signature Liquid Dip Eyeliner, Waterproof. For a long-wearing, smudge-proof pencil eyeliner, try the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner or L’Oréal Paris Le Liner Signature Easy-Glide Mechanical Eyeliner, Waterproof.


3. You Didn’t Set Your Eyeliner

Even if you use a waterproof formula, sometimes your eyeliner can still budge while you’re still working—especially when it’s applied near your waterline. To prevent your eyeliner from moving, it’s important to set your eyeliner in place. This is a similar concept to using a translucent face powder to set your foundation.

The Solution

Set your eyeliner using a long-wearing eyeshadow in a color that matches your liner. Apply the eyeshadow with a small flat top brush, pressing it on top of your eyeliner. The L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 HR Eye Shadow will do the trick!


4. You Didn’t Set Your Makeup

Based on reason number three you likely knew that we were getting here, and for good reason. Setting your makeup with a setting spray is super important when it comes to keeping not just your eyeliner, but all of your makeup, in place and lasting throughout the day.

The Solution 

Apply a setting spray over your makeup once you’ve finished your look. Spray the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray in “X” and “T” motions over your face so your makeup maintains that “just applied” look all day long.


5. You Curl Your Lashes In The Wrong Order

If you whip out your eyelash curler after you’ve applied your eyeliner this could be the cause of your smears. An eyelash curler can easily smudge or move your perfectly placed eyeliner.

The Solution 

Curl your lashes prior to applying any eyeliner. You’ll get the best of both worlds: perfectly curled eyelashes and totally intact liner.


6. You’re Piling On Eye Cream 

While eye cream is an anti-aging skin care essential, there’s a chance you’re overdoing it. If you apply too much eye cream before you apply your makeup, without giving it enough time to absorb, it can prevent eyeliner applied to your lower lash line from drying. This leads to that unwanted raccoon eye effect.

The Solution

Apply your eye cream during your skin care routine, then style your hair instead of jumping straight to your makeup. This will give your eye cream (and other moisturizing products) time to sink into the skin before you reach for your eyeliner.


7. You Don’t Consider Your Eye Shape

Your eye shape can also affect how your eyeliner wears. If you have hooded eyes, for example, there’s a chance that your eyeliner is smudging because you aren’t applying it in a way that steers clear of your extra layer of skin.

The Solution

If you have hooded eyes, stick to applying eyeliner in a thin line right against your lashes to avoid any product transfer. Check out our article, A Winged Eyeliner Makeup Tutorial For Hooded Eyes, for a step-by-step guide on how to do eyeliner for hooded eyes.


8. You Try To Draw One Long Line

We get it—following tutorials from beauty influencers and professional makeup artists is a fun pastime. But keep in mind that they’re pros who create beauty looks all the time. Getting perfectly straight eyeliner of the right size takes practice. If you’re trying to go across in one swoop every time, you can easily end up with crooked and smeared eyeliner.

The Solution

Start with small dashes first, then go back and fill in the spaces to connect them. Eventually you’ll have one line and you can go back over it if you want it darker or thicker. This might seem like it takes longer at first, but it beats smudging your liner all over your upper eyelid or under-eye area and needing to start your entire look from scratch. 


9. You Apply With A Shaky Hand

Applying any makeup with a shaky hand is difficult to do, but with eyeliner the stakes are even higher. One wrong move and you can end up with unwanted eyeliner smudges (or worse, a poking injury). 

The Solution

Lay off the caffeine until after you’ve completed your makeup. It might be tempting to sip that favorite cup of joe right before you start or even as you apply your makeup, but holding off on anything that can cause your hands to shake, namely caffeine, might be a savior in helping you avoid smeared eyeliner. Check out our article, How To Apply Eyeliner Without Shaking, for more tips.


Next: The Best Makeup Techniques For Different Eyeliner Styles



Written by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn