Panda eyes - we’ve all been there. Whether caused by hot and sticky weather, excess moisture in the air or rubbing itchy eyes, having mascara smeared across your face can be a frustrating business.


Lucky for you, here at The Recommended, we’ve got your back and put together a super handy guide on how to stop your mascara from smudging. We’ve included top tips and techniques on how to prevent this common dilemma and spoke to a beauty and make up expert for their recommendations on some of the best mascaras.

So, what are you waiting for? Read on for the full lowdown, and keep your lashes intact all day long.

Our mascara expert

Melissa Austin

Melissa Austin is the editor of the beauty blog BeautyAnswers. She has studied media makeup, obtained qualifications in makeup artistry, and is a pro when it comes to all things makeup, hair, beauty and skincare related.

How to prevent mascara from smudging: top tips and tricks

The good news is you can do things to help stop mascara from smudging. Follow these steps, with recommendations from our beauty expert Melissa, to keep your eyes and lashes intact and smudge-free:

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  • Prep your lashes: Before applying mascara, make sure your eyelashes are clean, dry and free from any product residue. Use a lash primer pre-application to provide a base that will enhance longevity. Melissa explains that this will ‘act as a barrier to keep oil from seeping through to your mascara, minimising the chances of smudging.’
  • Choose the right mascara: Opt for a smudge-proof mascara that is long-lasting and suitable in all conditions. Melissa recommends choosing a waterproof formula, as they are specially formulated to ‘resist smudging and smearing, especially in humid conditions or when your eyes water.’
  • Avoid excessive application: Try to limit the number of coats you apply to your lashes, and make sure to allow each layer to dry fully before adding more. Melissa stresses not to go overboard with the product when applying your mascara, explaining that ‘excess mascara can clump and transfer onto your eyelids or under your eyes, leading to smudging.’ She recommends ‘to use a light hand and apply mascara in thin, even coats, building up the volume gradually.’
  • Use a lash comb: Go through your lashes with a lash comb after applying your mascara. This will separate them out and remove any clumps that could cause smudging.
  • Leave it be: Once you have applied your mascara, let it dry and don’t bother it. Melissa advises allowing the mascara to dry between each coat to ‘prevent smudging caused by wet mascara from transferring onto the skin.’ Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
  • Add a setting powder (optional): For extra security that your mascara won’t smudge, Melissa recommends using a light dusting of translucent or setting powder under your eyes to finish off your application routine. She explains that this will help absorb any excess oil or moisture, reducing the chances of mascara smearing throughout the day.

What causes mascara to smudge?

Woman applying mascara

Why does mascara smudge? There are several reasons, from environmental factors to eye types and application techniques. We’ve covered some key contributors below:

  • Environment: Hot temperatures and humid conditions can cause mascara to smudge due to the excess moisture and sweat on your skin.
  • Contact with eyes: Touching or rubbing your eyes can lead to smudging, transferring product across your eye area and also onto your hands.
  • Oily eyelids: Excess oil on the eyelids can interfere with eye makeup and cause mascara to smudge. This could be due to external factors or if you have more oil-prone skin.
  • Bad quality mascara: Some mascaras are more prone to smudging due to their poor formulation and cheap ingredients.
  • Hay Fever: Itchy, watery eyes due to high pollen count can cause mascara to smudge.
  • Makeup application: Poorly applied mascara is more likely to smudge - ensure you have coated your lashes properly - check out our guide on how to apply mascara like a pro for the ultimate routine.

5 of the best smudge-free mascaras

We’ve picked out five of our favourite smudge-free mascaras and rounded them up below to point you in the direction of flawless fluttering lashes.

Best waterproof mascara: Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara, £22.80

Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara

For all-day-long, lasting results, this mascara has you covered. Thanks to its waterproof formula and featuring an innovative brush to coat every lash, your eyes will be kept clump and smudge-free no matter the conditions.

Best all-day wear mascara: Estee Lauder Double-Wear Zero Smudge Lengthening Mascara, £28

Estee Lauder Double-Wear Zero Smudge Lengthening Mascara

Say hello to 15-hour wear with this zero-smudge mascara. With its Smudge-Shield formula, it will resist heat, humidity and sweat and stay locked into your lashes no matter what.

Best affordable mascara: No7 Stay Perfect Mascara, £13.95

No7 Stay Perfect Mascara

Achieve a flawless finish with No7’s mascara - its sweat, tear, humidity and flake-proof to leave your eyes smudge-free. Coat on evenly and benefit from its long-wearing formula.

Best all-rounder mascara: Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara, £8.99

Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara

This mascara promises to lengthen and volumize your lashes without clumping or smudging. It has a waterproof formula and a brush to cover every corner of your lashes for the ultimate defined look, minus the mess.

Best for sensitive eyes: Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara, £23

Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara

Designed with a smudge-proof formula, this mascara will bring instant volume and length to your lashes and stay there. Suitable for sensitive eyes and able to withstand heat, humidity and tears!


Want to read more expert-recommended beauty round-ups? Check out our cosmetics page for a full list of recommendations, including the best mascaras, how to remove waterproof mascara, and the best eyeshadow palettes – all recommended by expert make-up artists.


Cordelia AspinallDigital Writer

Cordelia Aspinall is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media, working across brands including The Recommended,, MadeForMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. She has previously worked and written for digital publications including Condé Nast Traveller, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and several other lifestyle brands.