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How To Set Your Mascara? Tips To Avoid Clumping and Smudging

Having longer-looking, volumized, and fuller eyelashes makes you more feminine and, an absorbing look, more beautiful. However, after a few hours of wear, sometimes your mascara almost always smudges onto the skin under the eyes.

At lunchtime, you look into the mirror and shockingly see your eyes are looking like Panda eyes or raccoon eyes. It makes you disappoint and ruin your whole makeup look.

What causes mascara to run, smudge, and clump, and why mascara gets wet in the cold or in humid weather? I wrote a complete step-by-step guide in which you learn how to apply mascara correctly without smudging and how to set your mascara if you are having some smudge after applying mascara.

My name is Shahnaz Nazim (Author of this article); as a mascara enthusiast, I will also share expert tips to prevent smudging onto the skin under your eyes. My guide will teach you how to keep mascara staying all day on your eyelashes. Look gorgeous, go wherever you are, and look beautiful whatever you do. :-)😊😍❤️😍

Why Mascara is Important to Wear?

After all, mascara is a traditional beauty staple for a reason—just a few coats on your lashes can completely change your whole look. According to celebrity makeup artists, applying mascara to your natural eyelashes can make your eyes appear more open, dramatic, attractive, and absorbing look.

Mascara highlights your eyes’ features by volumizing and lengthening the eyelashes. The choice of the best mascara is very complicated because there are so many excellent formulas and brands on the market.

Like the hair on your head, eyelashes can be any length, any color, curly or straight, full or sparse, thick or thin, full or sparse, and curly or straight. That is why all the mascaras are not the same in formulas.

Someone wants lengthening mascara for her short eyelashes. On the other hand, someone has long eyelashes and want a mascara that holds curl all day and doesn’t smudge. Learn how to set your mascara by reading the step-by-step guide below!

How do you make mascara

Precautions to Keep in Mind Before Applying Mascara

There are different types of mascaras available in the market, such as curling mascaras, lengthening mascaras, and volumizing mascaras. Additionally, most mascaras have washable and waterproof versions for their users.

All the mascaras that are available in the market are specially designed with a smudge-proof formula. None of the cosmetic brands would ever like to develop the wrong product for their customers; actually, it depends on how you apply the mascara.

Sometimes, you are in a hurry, and you swipe a coat roughly and go out for work or a party. Obviously, it is clear from this you are inviting smudge to come under the eyes and sometimes flaking. In this case, you need a waterproof mascara if you are previously using a washable version of any mascara.

In this article, I will describe all the steps to keep in mind before applying mascara to avoid smudging or flaking. Additionally, I will also explain how to set your mascara after applying. Keep reading the article once you have adopted these steps. You will be an expert in applying mascara like a pro, and your mascara will never smudge under the eyes or from the upper lashes.

Gently wash your face or clean eyes with a soft cloth

To reduce the chances of smudge or smear, you should start with clean skin and eyes. Wash your face with an oil-control cleanser or good beauty soap that can control oil throughout the day. Let the face dry for 5 minutes.

If you feel uncomfortable washing your full face or you don’t have time, then clean your eyes with a soft cloth. Soak the cloth in water and clean your eyes, then apply some soap to your eyes and again gently clean the eyes. It will clear all the oil on your eyelids.

Gently wash your face or clean eyes with a soft cloth

Image by Freepik

Control Oil on your skin and eyelids

If your skin is oily, then it can be a cause of transferring the mascara pigments onto your skin. On the other hand, if your skin is not naturally oily, then sweat, heat, and humidity can cause mascara to run. If you have not applied the mascara properly, it can also cause the mascara to smudge.

Before applying mascara, you should wash your face with an oil-free cleanser with oil-control properties that will control oil throughout the day on your skin, and your mascara will not smudge or smear.

Your oily skin is your first enemy that makes mascara run, smudge, or smear. Additionally, use an oil-absorbing paper around your eyes. Powder-laced rice paper is specially designed to absorb oil from your face.

Curl your lashes: if they are not curled naturally

After washing your face, the next step is to curl your eyelashes before applying an eye primer. It is very simple and easy process. Girls and women are already know how to curl the eyelashes using an eyelash curler.

Hold the eyelash curler at the base of your eyelashes and gently press it. Do this step for three to four times to achieve a perfect c-shape curl. Just one thing I recommend you to use a quality eyelash curler; it will lift your eyelashes and helps to prevent smudge or smear on your upper and lower eyelids.

Curl your lashes with eyelash curler if they are not curled naturally

Using an eye primer is a pro technique

Most makeup artists say that priming your eyes and under eyes before applying mascara is key to preventing smudging or smearing onto your skin.

I suggest you use the primer that is infused with hyaluronic acid; it will hydrate the delicate skin under the eyes and prevent the oil from running onto your upper and lower eyelids. Some makeup artists also suggest setting your under-eye skin with loose-setting powder.

But there are better techniques than setting your under-eye area with a loose setting powder. Your setting powder can crease when you sweat.

Using an eye primer is a pro technique

Image by stockking on Freepik

As a little mascara enthusiast, 🙂 I suggest you use an oil-free makeup setting spray before you apply mascara. Use the NYX Cosmetics Matte Makeup Setting Spray. It is available for $8 on Amazon. The primer also adds definition to the eyelashes.

Apply only a coat of primer on your upper eyelashes and eyelids if you always wear mascara only on your upper eyelashes. On the other hand, if you always wear mascara on your upper and bottom eyelashes, apply one coat on the upper and under the eyes.

It will absorb the oil, and your mascara will not smudge or smear in heat when you sweat or in humid weather.

How to apply mascara like a pro that won’t smudge?

The research shows that more than 70% of girls and women pump the wand twice or thrice into the container before applying mascara. It is the wrong way to get the product on the brush.

This process can increase the chances of clumping. Applying the mascara without pumping the wand into the container would be best.

Use an eyelash comb on the upper and lower lashes before applying mascara. The eyelash comb will separate each lash from root to tip to avoid clumping. Because when clumping starts, it is the first door to let in smudging.

After the first coat, if you need a second coat for more volumizing and fuller lashes.

Just dip the wand once into the mascara container and apply the second coat. Remember! Do not pump the wand.

So keep the clumping door shut and enjoy the mascara without smudging.

  1. Swipe from root to tips for build the volume and through this combing process your lashes will not clump.
  2. Use inner curve of mascara brush to reach the roots and short lashes.
  3. If you want more volumized and fuller lashes, apply two to three coats of mascara. Do not let mascara dry in between coats.

Pro Tip: Some makeup artists suggest coating lashes from roots to upwards and say to avoid getting mascara on the tips of your lashes.

How to make mascara smudge-proof?

Is your mascara smudging and running everywhere? There are four easy ways to set your mascara after it is applied.

1. Do not use Makeup Setting Spray in order to Lock your Mascara

Price at time of publish: $7.84 at Amazon, $10 at nyxcosmetics.

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Makeup Setting Spray with Matte Finish

Every lady who loves makeup has makeup setting spray on her dressing table. Fixing mascara with setting spray is a very bad idea. Always apply mascara after the setting spray; otherwise, the setting spray can make your mascara go everywhere under your eyes.

Don’t let the dry mascara; apply one coat, build it to volumize, and let the dry first coat. If you want fuller lashes, then apply a second coat. Otherwise, just one coat is good to go.

Makeup setting spray will never lock your mascara. It will create a mascara mess in just a couple of minutes, and your whole makeup look will be ruined.

  • Available in four finish types: Dewy finish, Matte Finish, Radiant Finish, and Plump finish.
  • Best survival setting spray for outdoor concerts. HJFOxford said in her review that she was a person who was nominated to dress up this night for a Muppet show. She spent all night in Music City and the entire day in the humidity of Tennessee. Moreover, she said that it was like swimming from one location to another, but this setting spray lasts more than eighteen hours of sweating.
HJFOxford photo after sweating of 18 hours how to set your mascara
  • A customer named Patz rated this makeup setting spray with three stars and said it did not work well for her makeup setting. When she wiped her nose, the makeup on her nose was coming off with tissue. She talked about it in her review on Amazon.

2. Use translucent powder before applying mascara

Price at time of publish: $39.95 on Amazon, $43 without shipping at Sephora.

Loose Setting Powder Translucent Powder Laura Mercier

Before applying the mascara, use a translucent powder to dust the tips of your lashes lightly. As I have mentioned above, some makeup artists suggest not to apply mascara on the tips of your eyelashes.

The translucent powder works similarly for your lashes as it sets your face. This simple hack will fix your mascara from smudging or running. Also, be sure to brush a little bit of powder underneath the eyes. It will keep oiliness at bay.

  • It is smooth on your face and blends beautifully.
  • It is transparent and doesn’t make your foundation lighter or darker.
  • Fluffy powder brush.
  • A customer named Ashlyn Quiett rated this Translucent powder five stars on Amazon, and she has been using it for the past six years. Moreover, she said, it is truly translucent and has no light coloration. Additionally, it doesn’t flashback in pictures like other powders do.
  • Verona Francis said it is too white for her skin tone but goes on smooth. She did not tell her skin tone in her review on Amazon.

3. Layering a waterproof mascara on your favorite mascara

Waterproof formulas that are more reliable and sweatproof. Additionally, they last all day and prevent your favorite mascara from smudging or smearing due to their strong waterproof properties.

Some makeup artists suggest that after drying the first coat of your favorite mascara, apply one coat of waterproof mascara to make it smudge-proof. Mostly, all the famous mascaras in the market come with both versions that are washable and waterproof.

You can easily find and buy online the waterproof version of your similar washable mascara version because having a similar version of your favorite mascara will not change the features that you need.

For instance, if you have previously bought the washable version of any mascara with volumizing and lengthening features. So, the waterproof version of your favorite mascara will also have the same features and waterproofing characteristics in addition. Keeping the same versions will not affect your eyelashes, and you will achieve your desired appearance.

4. Apply a clear brow Gel to prevent smudging and Flaking

  • Matte finish.
  • Flake-free.
  • It will not make your eyelashes hard.
  • Withstand a hurricane or two.
  • Tiny size.

Price at time of publish: $14.50 on Amazon.


Apply a clear brow gel over the top of the mascara to help lock everything and keep the curl in place. This product is not recommended for sensitive eyes, please find according to your eyes.


I have mentioned all the pro tips and suggestions from expert makeup artists in the above article. Hope you like all the article and it is also enriched with beneficial information. Please share your compliments in the comment section.

Shahnaz Nazim

Shahnaz Nazim

The author, Shahnaz Nazim (Aleezay), is a mascara enthusiast, passionist, and beauty writer. I search for the best mascara products on the internet. Customers who bought products from big websites like Amazon, Byrdie, M.A.C, Tarte, Maybelline, and Loreal Paris always left honest ratings and reviews about the product. I go there and read all the positive and negative reviews for each mascara product. I collect all the information about what people are saying about the product, for whom it is the best, and for whom it is not good.

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