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A makeup staple for many, mascara can make or break a look. After all, lengthy, look-at-me lashes are one of the most coveted things around. There is one mascara-related issue most women have in common and that’s the dreaded smudging or “raccoon eyes” that can happen when your mascara decides to have a makeup meltdown. We all remember Lauren Conrad’s infamous dripping mascara tears scene from The Hills—and likely don’t want to reenact the scene, ruining an otherwise flawless face.

Fortunately, there’s a way around smudged mascara. The right tips, tricks, techniques, and tools can prevent or stop sliding, smudging, dripping raccoon eye. Here, 6 game-changing ideas from top makeup pros that’ll upgrade your lash game for good.

1)      Prep by cleansing

Ramy Gafni, brow and makeup artist, recommends washing the eye area with baby shampoo including the lashes before applying mascara. This gently removes excess oil from the eye lids and lashes, making mascara less likely to smudge, he explains.

2) Prime the entire eye area

Kelli J. Bartlett, Glamsquad Artistic Director, advises priming the entire eye area, including the eyelids and not just eyelashes. Oily eyelids can often be the culprit to smudging mascara because the oil breaks down the mascara formula and causes it to transfer to your lids, explains the glam guru. Choose a primer ( she likes NARS Tinted Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base) to create an even canvas on the eyelids that also preps for eyeshadow.

Urban Decay Global Makeup Artist, Steve Kassajikian, agrees that priming is necessity. Be sure to use an eyelid primer to absorb all the oil from your lids.

3)      Apply with the right brush

Gafni recommends to begin by applying mascara, then follow by using a spooly brush to apply pressed powder onto lashes. Next, apply another coat of mascara on top of the powder. Finally, use the cleansed spooly brush to comb through lashes. This will remove the excess mascara that would end up smudging, says the pro.

4)      Mirror placement is key

Bartlett recommends avoiding looking straight ahead into a mirror while applying mascara, which can result in mascara smudges all over the lids. Instead, try using a handheld mirror or compact. Place it at your chin while casting your eyes down into the mirror. This will give more space between the lashes and lids during application.

5)      Choose the perfect mascara

François Nars of his eponymous makeup line believes lashes give instant sophistication, glamour and open up your eyes.” When you put on mascara, it makes you look more awake. As a makeup artist, I always look for mascara that holds well and doesn’t smudge or feel too dry, which leads to flaking. The purpose of mascara is to make your lashes as long and thick as possible. According to Nars, the key to achieve this without flaking or drying is utilizing the ideal mascara. “You don’t want to have to put on multiple coats to achieve the lashes you want. With two coats of mascara, you should be satisfied.”

The most important tip for avoiding smudging is to use a waterproof mascara or tubing mascara so it stays put all day, agrees Kassajikian.

6) Skip the creams & use powder

Use powder shadows rather than cream-based shadows to avoid moisture around the eyes or on the lashes. Apply a thick layer of translucent powder under your eyes before applying mascara to catch any smudging during application. Once the mascara is dry, dust off the translucent powder for a clean finish. You can use a setting powder to wick away excess moisture.

Try these pro tricks of the trade and say goodbye to smudged, messy mascara!

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About the Author

Crystal Fenton

Crystal is a certified yoga instructor and freelance writer, covering wellness, health, lifestyle, beauty and fitness.