Liquid eyeliner and I have a love/hate relationship. OK, maybe just eyeliner in general. Over the last 10 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that regardless of how many tricks I try, eyeliner and I are always going to have a tumultuous relationship. I even have a hard time figuring out ways to keep eyeliner from smudging throughout the day. I’ll admit, I’m an eye-rubber. I spend most of my day in front of a screen, and even though I wear glasses, I wind up rubbing my eyes — and by proxy, I wind up with raccoon-like eyes.
As you can imagine, this is a problem. Not only because I wind up looking like a nocturnal animal, but because on the miraculous days when I actually do manage to get my eyeliner right and I haven’t had to use a billion Q-tips to clean up the smudges left behind, I want it to last. Rather than avoiding eyeliner altogether (because even if it frustrates me, I still aspire to Adele-like eye makeup), I took my woes to makeup artist Tara Sutter. Aside from having done my makeup for several special occasions, Sutter’s own eyeliner game is on point. She assured me that I wasn’t alone in the eyeliner game, and that there are plenty of ways to prevent your eyeliner from smudging away throughout the day.
1. Apply To Clean Skin
"Nothing will cause your eyeliner to fall away faster than oily eyelids," Sutter says. "Like all other makeup, start with a clean canvas for your best results."
2. Use An Eye Shadow Primer
"You use a primer for the rest of your face, right? Your eyes should be no different," Sutter says. "Apply a thin layer of eye shadow primer, blend it into the creases, and it will help your eyeliner stick." Sutter recommends Nars Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base for the best results.
3. Keep It Thin
"If you struggle with applying eyeliner, try starting with a thin line, close to your lash line," Sutter says. "A thin line is less like to smudge, and less likely to cause you any trouble."
4. Blend Your Eyeshadow
"Make sure your eye shadow is really blended well, especially if you're using a cream shadow," Sutter says. "When everything is blended, your eyeliner is more willing to stick to the canvas."
5. Set Eyeliner With Powder
"With a flat brush, use a setting powder and set your eyeliner once it's dried," Sutter says. "Make sure it's a translucent powder, and use it sparingly so it doesn't get too cakey." Sutter recommends Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder.
6. Use A Setting Spray
"If you're not committed to using a setting powder, try a setting spray instead," Sutter says. "I know it sounds crazy to spray something wet onto your freshly applied eyeliner, but it works!" Sutter adds that this step keeps her eyeliner from smudging, even through bad weather.
7. Use A Waterproof Formula
"When in doubt, use a waterproof formula," Sutter says. "It'll protect you from the elements, tears, sweat, you name it. Find a formula you love and stick to it."
Sutter also recommends trying an eyeliner marker if you're uncomfortable with liquid liner, saying that it's the best of both pencil and liquid worlds brought together. "The more comfortable you feel with your eyeliner, the less likely you are to fiddle with it," Sutter says. "The less you have to wipe off and reapply, the better it’ll stick to your eyelid, and the less likely it is to smudge during the day."
No eyeliner is infallible, though. Sutter recommends carrying a few Q-tips with you, just in case the weather or your day get the best of you. “It’s always better to be prepared,” Sutter says. “So you can fix the smudge and go on with your day!”