15 Tips To Ensure Your Eyeliner Doesn't Budge With All-Day Wear

Whether you've been using eyeliner for years or just started experimenting with more adventurous eye makeup, this essential beauty product can make you feel beautiful and empowered. When done right, it's flattering on everyone as a stunning way to enhance your eyes. But, it's also so easy to get wrong. And when it goes wrong, boy does it go wrong.


Regardless of how long we've been using eyeliner, we can probably all agree that it's not without its hassles. This brilliant product can be challenging to apply and prone to smudging. The good news is there are a few tips and tricks you can use that are total game-changers, letting you say goodbye to smudges and hello to all-day wear. From simple steps like using more products as part of your makeup routine to trying different techniques and formulas that ensure long-lasting eyeliner, you'll love eyeliner even more when you know how to make it stay put.

Wash your face first

Taking the time to wash and cleanse your face before applying makeup will leave your skin feeling fresh, but it also helps ensure longer-lasting eyeliner by removing the natural oil build-up on your face. Washing your face is not just for those with oil-prone skin, but if you have it, there are some steps you can take to keep the oil away. This includes using blotting sheets or tissue paper to remove excess oil. 


You should also wash your hands, which is essential for any makeup application, not just eyeliner. "It is best to be as hygienic as possible with everything, from your hands, brushes, tools and products to your workspace [wherever you apply your makeup]," makeup artist Nina Jafferji tells Glamour. "We carry natural oils in the palms of our hands, which can contain bacteria that's easily transferred to your face and your products. By starting with squeaky clean hands, you'll avoid contaminating your skin and spreading persistent pimples and blemishes."

It's also important not to touch your face throughout the day (some of us are guilty of this without even realizing it). "If you sweat, tear up, or rub your eyes — makeup transfer can happen more frequently," celebrity makeup artist Judi Gabbay tells InStyle. "The natural oils and heat in our hands can turn even the sharpest liner into a smoky eye if you rub hard enough."


Layer with a matching eyeshadow to make it last longer

Sometimes all it takes is eyeshadow to prevent your eyeliner from smudging or bleeding after application. If you add a dark eyeshadow (or any color that matches your chosen eyeliner) over the liner it will last longer. "If you find your eyeliner transfers to your eyelid as soon as you put it on, try pressing a dark eyeshadow over the top of your eyeliner to set it," makeup artist Keeley Wilson tells Refinery29. The powder consistency of eyeshadow is great for setting the eyeliner. 


How you apply your eyeshadow can also impact the results, so using the right combination of tools and techniques is important. "Use a flat, dense eyeshadow brush or even a flat concealer brush. For the most impactful application, it should be a synthetic brush. Use a swiping and tapping technique so you get a dense, opaque and even application," professional makeup artist Maria Asadi tells Vogue India.

Translucent powder is the beauty step you need

If you want long-lasting eyeliner, investing in a few other beauty products to wear with it is key. This includes primer, eyeshadow, and that classic translucent powder. Translucent powder is colorless and often used to either help set makeup or reduce shine, depending on your preference. Using it in combination with your chosen eyeliner could be just what you need to help remove oil from around the eyes and keep your liner looking great for the long-haul.


"Before applying eyeliner, you want to make sure the eye area along the lashes is free of excess oil. To do this, lightly dust along the lash line with a very small amount of translucent powder to absorb excess moisture and oil, and then apply your long-wear eyeliner and powder for maximum eyeliner longevity," makeup artist Kathy Jeung tells Byrdie. This simple addition to your makeup application will make a big difference. 

Invest in a great primer

Eyeshadow primer is designed to be applied to the eyelids before adding eyeshadow or eyeliner. Using a primer on your eyelids is a great way to ensure your eyeliner will stay on for longer and will stay free of smudges. It will also create a more even surface on the eyelid, which will, in turn, make application easier and result in fewer mistakes.


"They [oils] break down smudge-proof eyeliners, so I always recommend using an eye shadow primer on the eyelids first," celebrity makeup artist Robert Bryan tells Today. Makeup artist Keeley Wilson agrees, telling Refinery29, "All I can say is the more you prep your eyelid with an eye base, primer or eyeshadow, you'll find the product should stay on longer and smudge less." She also offered a tip for applying your liner, saying, "If your eyeliner is a liquid, the product is quite wet, so avoid looking straight into the mirror after applying and try keeping your head tilted until it dries, which sounds silly but works."

Go easy on the eye cream

You understand the importance of using eye cream and how beneficial it can be for the areas around your eyes. "The skin around the eyes is thin and delicate, and signs of aging often first become apparent in this delicate tissue," dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., tells Insider. Hydrating the area can protect the surrounding skin, potentially reducing the appearance of some fine lines and wrinkles. 


So, it may seem counteractive to skip this step. But if you want your eyeliner to last, one trick is to reduce the amount of eye cream you use. You want the eye and the skin around it to be as dry as possible before you go anywhere near it with your eyeliner. This is because eye cream can make the area oily and slippery, resulting in smudges. If you just can't ditch the eye cream, you need to have applied it long enough before your eyeliner so the cream has had time to absorb.

Always use a sharp eyeliner pencil

It's not just about what you put on your eyes before adding liner that will make a difference, but also your application methods. The quality of the eyeliner and how quick-drying it is will play a role (there are also different types of eyeliner to consider). Remember, to achieve a clean line if your favorite eyeliner comes in pencil form, you must sharpen your pencil first. Not doing this is one of the easiest mistakes to make.


"It's not uncommon to use an eye pencil that's dull more often than not," Rimmel Canadian makeup artist Vanessa Jarman tells Elle Canada. "Simply keep a pencil sharpener in your bag and make a habit of sharpening your pencil as need be." Can something as simple as a sharper pencil give you a more accurate line and potentially reduce any chances of smudges? You'll need to try this step to see the results.

Applying your liner more than once is always a good idea

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your eyeliner looks good for longer is to add another layer over it. This could include layers of the same formula, or you can try out different options, for example, adding liquid liner over pencil. Be sure the colors are as close a match as possible to achieve the look you originally intended.


The lines for each don't have to be thick; instead, the point is to layer up so that the eyeliner will stick better. You can also layer translucent powder between your eyeliner layers to help them stay put, according to celebrity makeup artist Kathy Jeung. "After your first application of eyeliner has dried, with a small fluffy brush, carefully dust a tiny bit of matte translucent powder...over the eyeliner with short inward strokes; then, draw a second coat of eyeliner for extra intensity and staying power," she tells Byrdie.

A waterproof formula is a game-changer

If you want long-lasting eyeliner that doesn't smudge, then the right formula will make all the difference. Waterproof eyeliners are not completely smudge-proof, but they are recommended for those who want eyeliner that can be worn all day. It's also great for people with naturally oily skin and specific eye shapes, like hooded eyes.


"I actually think that all eyeliner should be waterproof, but they are not all created equal. There are times you will have to test different ones to see which works best," Kelsey Murrell of The Glam Twinz, tells Today. So, which ones are best? Of course, the answer to this question will differ depending on what you want from an eyeliner, but a pencil is usually a good choice. "A waterproof or long-wear pencil will give you a little play time for blending and then stay put without smudging or smearing throughout the day," celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles tells Glamour

Pulling on the skin while applying your eyeliner is a big no-no!

When applying your eyeliner, you may be tempted to pull at the skin of the eye to stretch it or to help make your application easier, but this is considered a big eyeliner mistake. "When you pull and then release your eye, it bounces back — and your eyeliner does, too. This can create bumpiness, texture, and that dreaded check-mark shape hanging off the eye," makeup artist and director of artistry at Make Up for Ever, Lijha Stewart, tells Glamour.


Although the formulas you use and how you apply eyeliner are important, be prepared for mistakes to happen. Despite trying your best, your eyeliner may smudge at some point in the day. The good news is that if you have the right products with you, it's an easy enough fix. Use a cotton bud and eye-makeup remover to wipe away mistakes, or you can bring your eyeliner with you in your bag to touch it up.

Don't do it all freehand

Applying eyeliner properly is one of the best ways to prevent smudging. This includes using tape or stencils to prevent smudges during the application. "I'll apply tape to the corner of my eye and draw on my cat eye," Lonyea Maiden of MakeupbyLonn shares via Makeup.com. "That way, if it does bleed or run while I apply it, it'll do so on the tape."


Drawing eyeliner freehand can be complicated, especially if you don't have a steady hand. You'll likely find that, before you master this technique, you need hours of practice. This step could be made simpler by using white eyeliner before applying the darker color. The creative director for Bodyography Professional Cosmetics, Lori Leib, explains to StyleCaster, "A terrific way to get a smooth and perfectly placed line is to map out the shape with a white eyeliner pencil beforehand. Once it looks good, go over with a gel or liquid liner."

Where you apply your eyeliner is important

Some liners are more likely to smudge depending on where you apply them. Examples of this include applying liquid liner on the bottom lid or adding eyeliner to your waterline (which is more likely to make your eyes water). As celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles tells Glamour, dark eyeliner on the waterline also has its drawbacks: "I love a dramatic eye, but very often, black liner in the waterline can make your eyes look smaller."


You also need to consider the shape of your eye before determining your best eyeliner because what looks good on almond eyes may not work for round eyes. For example, L'Oréal Paris notes that hooded eyes may be more prone to smudging because of the excess skin folds. "As a makeup artist, I've noticed that those prone to eyeliner smudging typically (though not always) have bone structure that lends itself to this," makeup artist Merrady Wickes tells Well + Good. "Whether it's a hooded lid, or prominent cheekbones that are prone to being grazed by lashes, some people are just more susceptible to smearing."

Blending will ensure smudge-proof wear

There are multiple ways to add eyeliner, letting you experiment with the finish and get creative. What makes this eyeliner so exciting is that no two looks will be the same. You can experiment with creativity and finishes to find what works for your eyes. You may find that some methods have better results, for example, taking the time to blend your eye makeup. "Make sure your eye shadow is really blended well, especially if you're using a cream shadow," makeup artist Tara Sutter tells Romper. "When everything is blended, your eyeliner is more willing to stick to the canvas."


You can also create a deliberately smudged appearance, which can be incredibly flattering and a great way to enhance the eye. "The key is to also have a clean tissue handy," celebrity makeup artist Sonia Kashuk tells Prevention. "Every time you smudge with your brush, clean the bristles off so that you're not smudging eyeliner all over the place."

Take it easy and apply the liner slowly

Trying to apply the liner in one swift go (when you're not a pro) will result in poor application and eyeliner that's more likely to smudge. You're also less likely to irritate your eyes if you go slow.


There are other methods, like the fishtail line, if you want something more daring, or dot eyeliner, which is much easier to do and less likely to result in messy smudges. Plus, it will give you a unique finish. Professional makeup artist Dominique D'Angelo tells Allure that this approach is a great way to add texture and is a "comfortable step toward wearing something more daring than a classic liner. It can be as bold or as discreet as you'd like."

The type of eyeliner formula you use could also have an impact. This is something to remember before choosing the perfect eyeliner for you, as some are prone to smudging. "The ones that glide on smoothly are usually very creamy but melt and smear easily," artistic director for Osmosis Colour cosmetics Alejandro Falcon tells Prevention. "The longer-lasting ones tend to dry quickly and scrape and scratch your eyes when being applied."


Use a setting spray for the finishing touch

Before you head out the door with your full face of makeup and your flawless eyeliner, there's one product you need to complete your look: a setting spray. But do you know what setting spray can do for your makeup and why it's so essential?


This liquid-based formula is sprayed onto the face (it can be added all over) after you have finished your makeup. It's a great way to keep all makeup looking fresh for longer and prevents smudging (many brands boast long wear, which could be up to 16 hours). Finishing your face with setting spray, including where you added eyeliner, ensures your eyeliner won't budge throughout the day or night. "If you're not committed to using a setting powder, try a setting spray instead," makeup artist Tara Sutter tells Romper. "I know it sounds crazy to spray something wet onto your freshly applied eyeliner, but it works!"

Soft eyeliners work like a charm

There are different types of eyeliners, including gel, pencil, and liquid. Each will have its pros and cons and can produce very different results depending on what you want your makeup to look like. However, there are some formulas that are best for preventing smudging, including trying soft eyeliners. "This ensures that I can apply the least amount of product with the most color pay off, thus leaving less layers of product that can transfer off," celebrity makeup artist Robert Bryan tells Today.


Rimmel Canadian makeup artist Vanessa Jarman also recommends trying a softer pencil, telling Elle Canada, "The softer your pencil is, the easier the application will be. It's rare to find an eye pencil on the market today that won't apply smoothly or isn't soft. And if you happen to have an old pencil in your makeup bag that's difficult to apply, it's time to toss it in the trash!"