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How Do I Keep My Eyeliner From Smudging?

Real Simple answers your questions.

Woman's hazel eye with eye shadowMark Platt

When using only one eye shadow, layer it more heavily around the lash line, then softly blend it so that it fades naturally at the crease.

Which makeup basics should you own? Find out: Makeup Essentials Checklist.


Q. How do you keep an eyeliner pencil or pen from smudging in the crease of your eye?
Chris Himmelwright
Pratt, Kansas

A. Does your eyeliner creep from your lash line to the lid crease? If you follow this expert advice from Julie Harris, a New York City makeup artist, your liner will stay put: First apply a thin coat of eye-shadow primer, such as Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion ($16,, to clean eyelids, blending it into the creases with a finger. It will give your liner something to adhere to and will prevent the liner from transferring color to the creases. Next, dust a translucent loose powder or skin-colored eye shadow over the primer to set it.

Finally, apply your eyeliner. If you love the defined look of a liquid liner, Harris recommends Lancôme Artliner Precision Point Eyeliner ($30,, which dries in seconds. "A cake liner, like Laura Mercier Eye Liner ($20,, also lasts for the long haul when it's pushed into the lashes with a damp, flat-edged eyeliner brush," says Harris. If you're the traditional pencil type, draw a line and top it with a similar-color eye shadow to set it. Harris likes Prescriptives Softlining Pencil ($17.50, because it's soft and easy to blend for a smoky eye look.

These steps should guarantee smearless eyes, but if you're still nervous, sweep on a clear makeup sealer, like Benefit She Laq ($30,, to protect against smear-inducing water and humidity. With these few simple application tricks, that liner will last until you're ready to wash it off.

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