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Swap your runny eyeliner for these 10 expert-loved smudge-free picks

So long, smudges!
Woman putting on eyeliner
Hiraman / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

There's a difference between rocking eyeliner that's intentionally smudged and carefree and accidental smudging that leaves you with raccoon rings.

If you've dealt with the latter beauty bender far too often, you may want to stock up on some smudge-proof eyeliners for your makeup bag. These expert-approved options aren't just great for every beauty lover's budget, they also won't have you sprinting to a mirror to fix your makeup at a moment's notice.

Cause | Solution | What to look for | Expert picks | Meet the experts

What causes eyeliner to smudge?

Your skin oils could be to blame. "They break down smudge-proof eyeliners, so I always recommend using an eye shadow primer on the eyelids first," celebrity makeup artist Robert Bryan advised.

The key to preventing smudging

The answer is quite simple: a waterproof formula. "I actually think that all eyeliner should be waterproof, but they are not all created equal. There are times you will have to test different ones to see which works best," Kelsey Murrell, one half of the YouTube duo The Glam Twinz, told us.

Celebrity makeup artist Melissa Hurkman let us in on one of her best kept secrets. "Set your eyeliner with the same shade of a powder eye shadow over the top to lock in that product," she recommended.

What to look for in a smudge-proof eyeliner

Bryan looks for eyeliners that he describes as soft and densely pigmented. "This ensures that I can apply the least amount of product with the most color pay off, thus leaving less layers of product that can transfer off," he said.

One pro tip that TikTok creator Angelica Torres swears by? Swatching eyeliners on your hand to see how long they'll last. Simply apply a bit of color, wait a minute and rub it to see how it reacts.

Expert-recommended smudge-proof eyeliners

Kat Von D Beauty Tattoo Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

If you’re looking for a precise application and an intense look, Murrell suggests trying a liquid liner like this vegan one that she says is her go-to. "Liquid liners are best because of the fine tip," she said.

Pixi by Petra Define Waterline

Bryan adores this retractable waterproof liner that's safe to use on your waterline and free of parabens. The affordable price tag is certainly intriguing us, too!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Waterproof Crème Color

This waterproof cream liner from Anastasia Beverly Hills gets Bryan's seal of approval and is a dream to blend. It dries quickly and also has a durable matte finish that will work just as hard as you to make it through the day.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

Craving a bold eyeliner color that won't budge? The name of this glide-on eye pencil says it all. "It's made to stay put all day," celebrity makeup artist Cara Lovello said.

The award-winning eyeliner from Urban Decay comes in an impressive array of 37 colors and has a waterproof formula that's as smooth as silk, making application a breeze. It's also paraben- and cruelty-free.

MAC Cosmetics Eye Kohl Eyeliners

Celebrity makeup artist Aaron Paul recommends looking for smudge-proof kohl pencils to help line the inner rim of your eyelids. The makeup pro is a big fan of this soft eyeliner pencil that's available in nine colors and offers intense color and a smooth finish.

"These creamy formulas are made specifically for the waterline and stay put without irritating sensitive eyes. They also make a great base for a smokey eye when blended onto the lid," he explained.

Gel Eyeliner by Sigma Beauty

Yasmin Maya, founder of Birdy Lashes, suggests this smudge-proof liner for anyone who likes to get creative with their eye makeup looks. "The fact that it comes in a pot means you can use whatever brush you like to create all types of lines on your lids and the gel formula allows for a silky smooth application without any skips," she explained.

The long-wearing formula lasts for eight hours and won't fade throughout the day, according to the brand. It's also formulated with clean ingredients and is free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oils and phthalates.

Inglot Gel Eyeliner

Hurkman digs this highly pigmented, water-resistant liner gel from Inglot that has a creamy, quick-drying texture. It's kind of like the Energizer Bunny because it just keeps going and going and going and...

Milani Stay Put Eyeliner

You don't have to dig deep in your wallet to find a quality smudge-proof liner. Case in point? One of Hurkman's favorite options retails at under $10. "This liner is very inexpensive and the pigment is super deep so it's perfect for an all day/night smokey eye," she said.

The affordable find from Milani comes in three colors and the brand says it can last up to 16 hours without budging. Not bad for the price tag!

Araceli Beauty Ojos Perfecto Eyeliner

Plenty of pigment? Check. Waterproof, matte finish? Yep! It's no wonder Maya swears by this liner that comes in 11 colors and has a precise tip.

"My favorite part about this eyeliner is that it is made to last all day on your waterline," the makeup expert told us. "Unlike other eyeliners, this formula was created specifically to be smudge-proof, meaning it won't run on your under eyes and it maintains its pigmented intensity all day long."

ONE/SIZE by Patrick Starrr Point Made 24-Hour Gel Eyeliner Pencil

After Hurkman called this the "the most budge-proof eyeliner pencil" she's ever used, our ears definitely perked up. "These pencils come in black and brown, and I use both shades a lot," she said. "I love this for tightlining the eye line or using it in the waterline because it's so soft yet stays all day."

The waterproof formula is built to last up to 24 hours and is basically the perfect love child of a liquid liner and a smooth kohl pencil. Did we mention that it's also free of sulfates, parabens and phthalates?

Meet the makeup experts

  • Robert Bryan is a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist.
  • Kelsey Murrell is one half of the YouTube duo The Glam Twinz.
  • Melissa Hurkman is a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist.
  • Angelica Torres is a TikTok creator and beauty influencer.
  • Cara Lovello is a celebrity and bridal makeup artist with 18 years of experience in the industry.
  • Aaron Paul is a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist with 10 years of experience.
  • Yasmin Maya broke into the beauty industry six years ago as a content creator and is now the CEO and founder of Birdy Lashes.