Tips to Keep Your Top-Liner Smudge-Free Through the Day

Victoria Moorhouse


Nothing derails an eye makeup look quite like smudged top liner. Sometimes this product has a mind of its own and moves far from its intended spot on your lid. We’ve all seen a precise cat-eye transform into random and messy smears in the crease, above, and under our eyes. But the fear of raccoon eyes shouldn’t keep you away from highlighting your upper lash line forever. To aid you in this annoying beauty prob, we rounded up some tips that will help keep your top eyeliner smudge-free all day long.

Apply a Base
This step happens far before you even uncap your eyeliner pencil. Coat your clean lid with a primer like Jouer’s Long-Wear Eye-Brightening Primer. This product will not only keep your shadow from moving around with the oil on your lid, but will serve as a base for your liner, too. Make sure you’re not applying eye makeup in a steamy environment (i.e. not in your bathroom right after a hot shower!) to avoid the moisture lifting your look.

Blend in That Cream Shadow
If you opt for cream-based shadow (which, we really can’t blame you), make sure it’s completely dry before you apply your eyeliner. A pencil liner is not likely to set well on a base that’s moist or raised and will be more susceptible to smudging.

MORE: 6 Tips to Easily Apply False Lashes

Use a Setting Spray
Spritzing something wet onto your dry eyeliner would seem like a recipe for a smudging disaster, but setting sprays actually work to “set” and hold your makeup into place, kind of like a primer. There are plenty on the market to choose from If you need some direction, try Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. This product lowers the temperature of your makeup so it’s less likely to slide off your face. Can you say genius?

Watch That Cat-Eye Wing
A perfect cat-eye takes practice, precision, and a super steady hand. But even when you finally ace the technique of drawing a straight line along your upper lashes, you still have to be weary of the wing moving around during the day. When creating the wing of your top liner, angle it up and away from the crease of your eye where you squint.

MORE: How to Revive Your Dried-Out Liquid Liner Pens

Stick to a Thinner Line
Graphic eyeliner is in, but if you’re one that struggles with messy eye makeup, stick to a neat, thinner line at the root of your lashes. If you’re drying to try out the bold trend, pick up a fast-drying liquid eyeliner pen that applies like a marker.

Carry a Q-Tip
Weather, tears, and other factors that wipe out your eye makeup can’t always be avoided. Carry a few Q-tips and a mini bottle of makeup remover in your handbag just in case. Dip the Q-tip in the remover and gently wipe away the excess product.

Apply Your After Curling Lashes
Make it a point to curl your lashes before you put on your eyeliner. This will prevent the tool from smudging your freshly-applied eyeliner.