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Tricks of the Trade

Make your eyeliner smudge-proof


My eyeliner always gets smudged. I’ve used pencil and liquid eyeliner and even tried setting them with black eye shadow but nothing seems to work. How do I make my liner smudge-free?

—KC Anne Santos

Unless your plan is to look like a ghoul for Halloween, smudged eyeliner is a no-no. It is one of the most common makeup problems, and is probably one of the most asked beauty questions, at least for my column.

Personally, this is my biggest makeup issue because my eyeliner always smudges (even at shoots, which is why I always have to warn my makeup artists).

For a time I was resolved not to wear eyeliner until I found a way to prevent it from smearing, which meant my eyes were less defined and pretty for some years, not counting the times when I had a makeup artist to do it for me.

It seems we’ve all had our fair share of eyeliner woes. One too many times we’ve caught a glimpse of our reflection with streaky eye makeup (or simply, raccoon eyes) and since made a conscious effort to avoid this embarrassing fiasco. The lot of us are prone to this, as our eyes get oily throughout the day and cause our eyeliners to slide and settle into our under-eye area. But as much as a touch-up is necessary after a few hours, our makeup should never be all over the place.

Before you store your favorite eyeliners for good, just as I did, know that there are ways to smudge-proof your makeup. It took me some practice and a lot of help from top makeup artists, but I finally learned the secrets to creating sultry lined eyes that last for hours. Here are some easy tips you can follow to make smudged liner a thing of the past.

Try the smudge-proof test. I used to think that all eyeliners are the same; and that the only differences were probably in the color and the brand. But as I was out to find the perfect smudge-proof liner, I discovered the distinction—consistency, glide and resistance all mattered. The only way to know if your eyeliner has all three qualities is if you try it on the back of your hand and notice the following: how well the liner draws, whether it distributes an equal proportion as you line it, how it feels against the skin and how long it stays on when you rub it. When you start comparing one liner against the other, then you’ll see how much better the other fares. This requires a lot of trial and testing, which is actually the fun part. Because once you’ve found your smudge-proof liner, you’ll know you’ve found gold.

Use a makeup primer. As our busy day progresses, we barely notice how much activity our eyes make. With all that blinking, our eye area becomes oily and our eyes may begin to water. This causes our makeup to move and smudge, especially if we’ve used a medium- to full-coverage foundation. Makeup primer or base prevents all that from happening, as it acts like a bridge between skincare and makeup. It keeps skin moisturized without getting oily, and allows makeup to adhere better. This means makeup stays in place for a much longer time, which is what you need to prevent your liner from smudging. This extra step makes a big difference, and will keep the rest of your makeup fresh from morning to evening.

Load on more powder. You were on the right track by setting your liner with black eye shadow. I still recommend you do that, but don’t forget to set your entire eye area, too. Aside from the primer, face powder (whether you prefer to use pressed or loose) will keep your eyes from getting oily or watery. This does it by setting your makeup, which means it won’t be moving or smudging in the next couple of hours. Applying a lot more powder will prevent smudging, just remember to use a big, fluffy brush to remove the excess.

Know where to apply liner. Where you apply your eyeliner also makes a difference. If you are used to drawing liner on top of your eye shadow, maybe you can try applying it on your inner lash line instead, which is what most makeup artists do to create a more natural definition. This may require practice though, but it really does make your eyes appear bigger. The right way to do this is by gently lifting your upper lid and drawing on the line right under your eyelashes (this is why consistency and glide are so important).

Got a beauty question? E-mail ask.kellymisa@gmail.com

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Tags: beauty , Eyeliner , Lifestyle

  • Anonymous

    What ingredients are in the products you advise to prevent smudging? They could cause more problems than they cure. See http://www.nochemicalcosmetics.com for free
    reports on how to recognise and avoid the chemicals and contaminants in the
    products you use.

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