The Secret to Smudge Proof Eye Makeup

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The Secret to Smudge Proof Eye Makeup

I’ve been a makeup junkie for two decades, a beauty reviewer for seven years and the co-editor of we heart this for over three – yet it was only within the last six months that I discovered the secret to banishing smudged makeup and raccoon eyes for good.

So when wht was asked to partner with U by Kotex and reveal a closely guarded style secret, I couldn’t wait to fess up to the gem that’s been keeping my eye makeup smudge free for months, picked up while dining in NYC with a former makeup artist.

raccoonBefore we get to the tip that finally lead me to conquer raccoon eyes (an issue that has plagued me since I first picked up an electric blue eyeliner – it was the 80’s!), let’s cover a few of the fundamentals.

If your carefully applied eye makeup suffers the same fate as mine once did – smearing and smudging all over until it ends up pooled underneath your eyes – make sure you have these basics covered.

• An eye-specific primer is a must. Look for formulas geared to oily skin. Apply it sparingly to a clean eyelid before any makeup to help keep everything in place.

• So are waterproof formulas. Especially in your mascara. When shopping for eye makeup look for formulas made to last, especially those labeled ‘waterproof’. Other key phrases to watch for include include ‘oil-free’, ‘smudge-proof’ and ‘crease-less’.

• Top liner with a powder Run a line of powdered eyeshadow in the same hue over it. This may dull the glossiness a bit, but it will also help absorb the oil in the liner and make it stay put.

Now that we’ve got Raccoon Eyes 101 covered, let’s get to the tip that’s changed my life around. As I was discussing my eye makeup woes with my friend, I detailed the steps above that I took to keep things in place. She revealed that it’s not just about the primers, shadows, liners and mascaras…it all comes down to your EYE CREAM. And she was right!

A mascara and cream

I’ve been in love with lush, rich eye creams since the first time I used one. And while they may do wonders for fine lines and dull skin, their heavy textures (applied right before makeup application, right?) aren’t helping your makeup. Especially since the moisture left behind leaves a nice slick surface for your makeup to slide right on to.

Am I advising you to ditch your eye creams? Never! You just need to rethink them a little bit:

 Reach for the heavy hitting, thick eye creams just once a day as part of your nightly beauty regimen. Sleeping on it gives those creams all night to work their magic, too.

In the morning or before applying makeup, if you need some moisture around the eyes, it’s time to reach for an oil-free, gel-based formula.

Skipping heavy eye creams before applying makeup has made the difference in my fight against traveling eye makeup. I’ve been using a gel eye cream in its place and couldn’t be happier. Not only does my eye liner, shadow and mascara last until I’m ready to take it off, the gel has a cooling and soothing effect I look forward to every morning.

There you have it readers – my secrets behind a smudge-proof look. I hope these simple steps help keep your make up in place – and your face raccoon-free!

we heartsters – what is your biggest beauty secret? Spill it in the comments!

U by Kotex* products come in a variety of absorbencies and sizes, so you’re covered whether your flow is heavy or you just need backup protection.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by U by Kotex* via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of U by Kotex*


  • tyna

    Tyna is a former editor of we heart this that worries about becoming a crazy cat lady, reads at least a book a week, checks in at a Flyers fan forum every morning and is forever organizing her closets and drawers. skin tone: NW 20/25 skin type: combination favorite beauty product: eye shadows and lip balms

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  1. I have luckily never been plagued with smudgy eyes, but can attest to @tyna having problems for-EVER. Seriously, it’s kind of amazing to watch (if it wasn’t so sad). She used to smudge in under an hour.

    So, you should have seen her when she learned this tip. It was like someone told her where gold was hidden. And I can honestly say, since she switched to eye cream at night – I haven’t seen a smudge on her face. True that.

  2. ooh we are so alike @Tyna :) These are my secrets too! The eye cream is such a culprit for me! And i always smudge and blend some shadow on top of my liner! As for mascara, I stick with just regular CG LashBlast because miraculously, it doesn’t smudge on me!

    1. I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out the eye cream issue @mandabear! In hindsight, it seems so obvious – just never thought of it as I slathered my super lush eye cream on every morning.

      And one good side effect of skipping the heavy cream – I’ve noticed my eyes are less prone to being watery or irritated towards the end of the day (when my old cream started seeping into them I guess). Gels for the win in the AM!

  3. I smudged all the time, too. Why is life so unfair with this random distribution of over active oil glands? I have learned these tricks over the years, the most important of these being PRIMER! A clean, dry surface prepped and primed is a rule before painting a work of art, a kitchen or your face. Really ladies, before you say you’ve tried everything, make sure you’ve tried a good one of these (BE and UD are both awesome, BTW).

    1. ReaderRita says:

      So is Too Faced Shadow Insurance! It irritates my eyes less than UD…

  4. Although I’m usually not smudgy-eyed, I passed your tip along to an always-smudgy friend. She says, “Thanks a million, Tyna!”

    1. Tell her “you’re welcome!” and I hope this tip does the trick!

  5. I need to find a good gel eye cream for in the morning then. I can only wear waterproof mascara these days, even though I use eye shadow primer and eye shadow. My eye shadow won’t budge but my mascara will come off, which is frustrating and annoying, as I’m sure you can imagine!

  6. Thanks @tyna! It makes sense! I shared this with a girlfriend at work who looks all smudgy-eyed from her mascara and it has already helped her out!! :)

  7. Great tips! I used to have the same problem too, because of my eye cream. Eye primer totally changed my life. Seriously, I was like, something will keep my eye shadow from disappearing!? My mind pretty much exploded. Now I’m on a mission to get this info to everyone.

  8. This happens to me all the time! and yes, you are absolutely right!!! I wear an extremely rich eye cream. Starting today I will only be applying at bedtime. Thank you Tyna!!!!!!

  9. laurenisloving says:

    Thanks for the tip! What are your recommendations for an oil-free, gel-based eye moisturizer?

    1. Good question @laurenisloving and @readerrita – honestly, since this is a fairly new tip in my life, I haven’t had the chance to experiment with eye gels. I’ve been using the first one I saw after getting the tip, Olay’s Age Defying Revitalizing Eye Gel for less than $10 at my Target.

      BUT I am looking for a “fancy” gel eye cream and have had my eye on Ole Henriksen’s Ultimate Lift Eye Gel.

      Readers – any suggestions got a great eye gel? Drugstore, department or in-between – let’s hear them.

  10. ReaderRita says:

    Does anyone have a gel eye cream that they love? I’ve been looking…

  11. I haven’t used it in some time but since reading this I’m going to try it again: The Body Shop’s Elderflower Cooling eye gel.

    1. ReaderRita says:

      OOOOooooo I LOVE Elderflower- (albeit usually in tea form…)
      I’ll have to try that one!

  12. I think I’m defective b/c no matter what I try, my eye makeup smudges. I don’t use eye stuff during the day, I use a good primer, I apply everything according to your instructions and by noon I am a dead ringer for Uncle Fester. Wah Waaaaahhhh*sad trombone*
    I personally think it’s mascara that’s my primary culprit, like Phyrra mentioned. No matter what I use, it’s traveling within a few hours. The only mascara that I had luck with was one from Shiseido, but they changed the formula on me. Wah Wah Wah Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhh*sadder trombone* :P

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