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Why Your Mascara Keeps Sliding and Slipping — and How to Stop It

Surprise: It's easy to prevent.

mascara slipping sliding
GABRIEL BOUYSGetty Images

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your mascara. Okay, every single makeup-wearing human in the world can put their hands down now, because I know you’ve all been there. I know you’ve all looked in the mirror at noon and seen faint black streaks on your upper lids from blinking, or had to wipe away black smudges from beneath your eyes at the end of the day.

It's annoying, I know, but it's also totally preventable. We spoke to Miley Cyrus' makeup artist, Janice Daoud, to get her recommendations on how to stop your mascara from smudging and slipping and sliding—once and for all.


Keep Oiliness at Bay

Sorry, but your lids may just be a bit oilier than the rest of your face (yes, even if your complexion is drier than the Sahara). And because oil inherently melts and dissolves the bonds in makeup—including your mascara—you need to soak up any and all excess oil at the beginning of your makeup routine.

This can be done in a couple of ways that are quick, efficient, and make a difference.

Blot the Eye Area

My favorite trick? After cleansing and moisturizing my face in the morning, I'll take a powder-laced blotting sheet (Palladio Rice Papers are a go-to) and gently press it over eyelids and under-eyes to completely mattify lids, then, for good measure, do one more pass with the paper after applying liner and eyeshadow.

Mattify the Eye Area

Daoud also recommends using a translucent powder to mattify the eye area, "The best way to prevent mascara from transferring onto your eyelids is by using translucent powder," she says. "It's perfect for setting under your eyes which will help avoid mascara transfer." She adds that you can add the powder directly to your eyelashes for maximum effect.

Prime Your Face

While priming your eye area may seem like an unnecessary step in a routine, it’s just as important as priming your face before foundation or priming your lashes before mascara. Daoud is all for eyeshadow primer: "Priming your eyes and lids is key. Don’t use a concealer or foundation—use an eyeshadow primer as it provides the perfect base and, most importantly, anchors your eye makeup in place."

Most primers—like Daoud's favorite NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, or the drugstore favorite E.l.f. Shadow Lock—work to mattify your lids. Not only will it keep your shadows and liners bright and pigmented, but it will also prevent creasing and sliding off your eye makeup. And yes, it will help prevent your mascara from leaving marks after a few hours.

But if all else fails...

Use Waterproof Mascara

Not everyone is a fan of using waterproof mascara, and we totally get that. The downside of a waterproof option is that the potential damage to your lashes might not be worth the smear-proof effect. However. If you use the proper mascara and primer combo, you can keep your lashes nourished while using a waterproof formula. Most priming mascara formulas are made to soften eyelashes while also creating a barrier that allows for brighter and bolder pigment.

Use False Lashes

I do not consider this cheating, but more of a practical loophole to the whole “smudging” drama of mascara. False lashes are a fun mainstay in the beauty world and while they may be difficult at first to apply, this temporary option is the perfect choice for a finished look without the hassle of sitting for extensions or dealing with melting makeup.

Just make sure to be extra careful with the eyelash removal process and always use a designated remover. Now that you’ve got all these options, go forth and live your best mascara smudge-free life!

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