There are some makeup problems we can all bond over, and smudged bottom mascara is close to the top of the list. We've all been there at one point or another, thinking our lower lashes are intact, only to look in a mirror and be greeted with raccoon circles under our eyes.
While several factors go into whether or not mascara will smudge, there are a few things you can do to prevent it as much as possible. Ahead, with the help of makeup artist Violette, we've created a user-friendly guide on how to apply mascara to your bottom lashes with zero smudging.
Meet the Expert
Violette is a Paris-based makeup artist and creative director of Guerlain makeup. She's also the founder and CEO of her namesake makeup line Violette_Fr.
Before applying bottom mascara, make sure you haven't applied any thick creams or skincare close to the undereye area. Because of their emollience, skincare and prep products can often cause mascara to smudge and transfer on the skin. Keep your eye cream around the orbital bone and away from the bottom lashline—this will set you up for success before application.
Sweat, skin's natural oils, and even heat can play a role in smudging, so be sure to apply mascara after you've blown out your hair or used any heat-styling tools. If you tend to have very oily skin, use blotting papers throughout the day to keep the oil under control.
Primer is an excellent product to use on your top and bottom lashes before mascara, as it helps condition your natural lashes and allows the mascara to grab onto the primer for long-lasting wear. Since the bottom lashes tend to be more delicate than the top, you can get by applying just one coat of primer and letting it dry before moving on to your mascara. The top lashes will usually need around two coats.) Lancome's Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Primer ($30) volumizes and conditions lashes before mascara application.
How do waterproof and smudge-proof mascara formulas differ? Waterproof formulas help protect water and other liquids from taking the mascara off your lashes, while smudge-proof mascaras are specifically formulated to minimize mascara transferring onto your lids and skin.
Keep Some Tissues On Hand
It's common for mascara to get on the skin when you're applying it, but the good news is it's a simple and quick clean-up. Keeping some tissues nearby can help when applying bottom mascara and prevent smudging upon application altogether.
Fold the tissue and place it under the bottom lashes, then apply your mascara so that any excess gets on the tissue and not your skin. You can also wipe off excess mascara with the tissue and thin out the product on the lashes. This allows the lashes to still benefit from mascara yet removes any extra product that might smudge later on.
Opt for Curved Brushes
Violette is a fan of curved mascara brushes and recommends using these when applying mascara to the bottom lashes. "To prep my lashes, I curl them first and then use Guerlain's Noir G Volumizing and Curling Mascara ($40) on my top and bottom lashes," she says. "It's not too strong, and the curved brush raises the eyelashes perfectly. The curve of the brush allows you to press it against the root of the lashes, which helps your lashes hold the curl. The darkness adds to the lash line and really helps to contrast with your eye color to make your eyes pop. It creates a really big difference." A curved brush will hug your lashes, allowing the mascara to adhere and stay put without further smudging.
Use Your Wand Vertically
When we apply mascara to our bottom lashes, we tend to apply it horizontally. But holding the applicator brush vertically—and lightly applying mascara using just the tip of the wand on the bottom lashes—allows you to get the product on the lashes without applying too much at once. You can apply mascara with more attention to detail this way, and you'll experience less smudging because you're using half as much. If you want a "Twiggy" inspired look, this is the way to apply mascara.
Set With Translucent Powder
Since most smudging happens when the tips of lashes come in contact with your skin, a trick to avoiding this is applying a loose, translucent powder to the tips of your lashes once your mascara has dried. This helps invisibly set the lashes; use a small brush and tap the powder directly onto your lashes or use your finger. You can also use translucent powder under the eyes to blend out any creasing from concealer and keep your skin from getting oily. Laura Mercier's Ultra Blur Talc-Free Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($48) is easy to apply and untraceable once it goes on.
Seal With Brow Gel
You can also seal your bottom mascara using a product you might not traditionally reach for—brow gel. Applying a clear brow gel that is safe for the eye area on top of your dried bottom mascara can help seal the formula and prevent smudging. (If you don't have clear brow gel, you can use clear mascara for this technique, too.) The added layer of product dries on top of the mascara, providing more undetectable protection.