How to Make Mascara Not Smear

The right products and techniques can prevent mascara smears.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Mascara is meant for your lashes, not smeared all over your face. Unfortunately, everything from steamy summer weather to weepy romantic flicks to boyfriend blowups can cause a mascara meltdown. The result: Instead of looking seriously sexy or professionally pulled together, you end up a sloppy, inky-streaked mess. Don’t panic! With the right products and techniques, you’ll bid adieu to raccoon eyes.

Step 1

Use eye cream sparingly. Too much could cause mascara to glob onto the cream. "O The Oprah Magazine" recommends applying eye cream only under your eyes and just below your eyebrows. Allow plenty of time for the cream to soak into your skin before grabbing your mascara wand.

Step 2

Puff on powder. “Cosmopolitan” says a little powder under your eyes will help absorb oils and sweat that can make your mascara run. Close your eyes and dust powder on your lashes, too. This will help the mascara adhere to your lashes and keep it from drifting to your skin, according to Katelyn Simkins, a makeup artist with Premier Modeling Agency in Denver.

Step 3

Remove excess mascara. A wand loaded with lash-plumping product will inevitably cause some to migrate where it doesn’t belong -- on your beautifully made-up skin. Simkins advises tapping the wand on a paper towel or piece of tissue before applying to minimize excess mascara.

Step 4

Use the waterproof variety. Waterproof formulas can withstand the hottest humidity and the weepiest crying jags. “InStyle” magazine recommends Rimmel London Sexy Curves Waterproof Mascara, while “Allure” gives the thumbs up to Maybelline New York Define-A-Lash Waterproof Mascara, which the editors say has a great high-shine finish.

Step 5

Wiggle the wand. Starting at the base of your lashes, move the wand from side to side as you move up your lashes. “This will help the mascara cling to your lashes, giving you a clean application,” says Simkins. Wait one minute and reapply for ultralong, flirty fringes. With an eyelash comb, sweep away excess product to put your clean look on lockdown.


Pair waterproof mascara with waterproof eyeliner for a double dose of anti-smudge insurance. “InStyle” recommends Revlon Color StayLiner, which the magazine says is resistant to smearing. Should a mascara smear appear despite your best efforts, don’t try to rub it out with tissue or makeup remover, which could make a bigger mess, cautions Simkins. Instead, dab a drop of foundation over the smudge to make it magically disappear.

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