Did you know there’s a difference between smudgeproof mascaras and waterproof mascaras? You can use the best or splurge on the most expensive waterproof mascara out there, but if you have naturally oily skin around the eye, those racoon eyes will be here to stay.
Read on to find out why waterproof mascara may not be the best for you!
Do you look like that when you cry?
Or like that by mid-day, every day?
Well, well, the first lady probably needs a waterproof mascara while the second lady, a smudgeproof mascara.
I found that even when I use waterproof mascara and don't rub my eyes, I still always had small black circles on the undereye caused by mascara smudging and flaking. All that time spent on perfecting my eye makeup in the morning, only to be ruined by mid-day!
After countless tubes of mascara, plenty of money spent, and a weary heart that no mascara would ever withstand the blistering heat of Singapore, I came to the realization that waterproof and smudgeproof mascaras are simply meant for different purposes.
I think it is necessary and extremely useful to know the difference so that you won’t waste money on a mascara that does not serve your needs.
Common mascara problems
First, let's look at the common problems mascara wearers face.
Lashes that touch the brow bone
The first time I read this, I found it incredulous and physically impossible. Lashes touch brows?? I looked at myself in the mirror and thought..... how in the world? My lashes are in no way remotely close to my brows at all. Not in a million years will they ever meet LOL.
Then I started to observe the eyes of others, and realized that my chiropractor indeed has such deep set eyes that his lashes touch his brows with every blink. Had he worn mascara, it would have smudged onto his brows. It is important to note that not all Caucasians have deep set eyes, and people who have deep set eyes can be from any descent.
Eye shape and eye movement
Some people simply blink harder or more frequently than orders. Some of us have hooded eyelids or puffy eyelids, which cause eye makeup to transfer more easily than others. Understanding and embracing your eye shape will help you make better decisions with the type of products to use and avoid.
Having oily skin means that your skin is probably oily on every part of your face - cheeks, forehead, jaw, and nose. Most people with oily skin will no doubt have oily eyelids as well. Those with combination-oily skin might have an oily t-zone, but also oily eyelids.
We will look into tips on how to deal with mascara melting away on oilier eyelids in the next section.
A common piece of advice given to those looking to reduce the look of puffy eyes is to apply mascara to de-emphasize upper-eye puffiness. This generic advice is not going to cut it because doing so causes even more issues from the mess mascara makes on puffy eyes.
If you've got puffiness under the eyes naturally or what Koreans refer to the little fat deposits as 'aegyo sal', think of it as something positive. It means you've got youth! It is so desirable in Korea and other Asian cultures that people go for surgery to create this lower eyelid fullness because fat under the eyes exudes charm, youth and cuteness.
Applying mascara on the lower lashes if you have puffy undereyes can be a real challenge. That's why I usually don't bother since my lashes will touch the skin under the eyes once I smile.
If your cheeks go all the way up to meet your lashes when you smile, lucky you! You have a great smile and all the collagen in your cheeks at this age to make it possible.
I personally know people who have puffy eyes AND puffy cheeks. Not gonna lie, mascara can be a real challenge for them. If you have this combination, hopefully the tips below can help.
Where I live, in Singapore, humidity levels are at a daily average of 84%. Singapore is located near the equator, which means we will never experience snow, and a tropical climate all year round where clothes drying to a crisp is daily life. It's so hot that you'll start perspiring the moment you get out of the shower.
In such hot and humid conditions, regular or waterproof mascara simply cannot cut it. These will not be resistant to heat and moisture levels.
How to prevent mascara from smudging
The following are tips on how to prevent and eliminate mascara trouble.
'Waterproof' is usually removed by something oil-based
I have a childhood memory of playing with my aunt's mascara when I was around 8, and to prevent from getting found out, I splashed my eyes with water and rubbed them so hard they hurt yet the mascara wouldn't come off. All that rubbing made it worse and obviously I got caught because who's gonna miss panda eyes on a child hahaha.
I didn't know then why the mascara wouldn't wash off with water, but I do now. We don't use water to remove waterproof products!
Waterproof mascara resists water but not oil. Regular mascara resists normal levels of face oil but not water. Only smudgeproof mascara resists oil.
Prime your eyes
Ready yourself for battle as much as possible. Prepping the skin prior to mascara, or any eye makeup application for that matter, is extremely important. If eyeshadow primer is what's required to help reduce smudging, use it. If a lash primer like cult-fav Marc Jacobs Lash Primer is what it takes to help mascara stay on your lashes longer, get it. Do whatever it takes to get your foundation steps right, so that anything that goes on after has a chance of staying put.
The role of the primer is to create a barrier between your makeup and oils surfacing from your skin. Remember to apply primer to the area beneath your lower lash line as well.
When I apply mascara directly onto my eyelids, with nothing applied prior, I know for sure I'm gonna see smudging on both upper lids and undereyes within an hour.
The grease from your skin may come in contact with your lashes and break down mascara. If you are so lucky to have lashes long enough to pick up moisture on your face, here's a quick powder tip.
Right before you apply mascara, load an eyeshadow brush with translucent powder, tap off the excess and run the brush along the tips of your eyelashes.
To save time, what I do is when I'm setting liquid foundation/bb cram/cc cream with loose powder, I'll quickly brush it over my lids as well. The powder helps to absorb any excess oils on your lashes and creates a matte canvas for the mascara, which contains emollients.
Even if you don't like or don't know how to apply eyeshadow (I have a helpful eyeshadow tutorial series for this), applying a wash of powdered eyeshadow over the lids creates a barrier between the mascara and the oils from your skin.
For added security, use an eyeshadow primer like Urban Decay Primer Potion before applying eyeshadow. You only need a small dot for each eye. Let the primer set a few minutes before applying eyeshadow, otherwise it won't apply easily. If you have a hard time with getting eye makeup to stay on, it may not be you. This is where one product can really make a difference in the outcome.
Curl your lashes
If you have naturally curly lashes, you might not need an eyelash curler, but people with straight, downward growing Asian lashes definitely need extra help here. Eyelash curlers are extremely subjective, almost as personal as skincare routines are for different individuals, because whether a curler sits comfortably on your eyelid depends on the curvature of your eye.
These are my favorite picks for straight Asian lashes like mine:
For those stubborn corner lashes that just don't seem to fit into the curvature of a typical eyelash curler, a corner curler might help you tame them.
Get your angles right
For lower lashes: Always apply looking down into mirror so you can apply perpendicularly to lash direction without hitting crease/fold
insert images of applying mascara to top and bottom lashes
Use a spoolie
Some mascaras can be thick and gooey, making application messy, creating a higher chance of smudging upon first blink, and setting the stage for more smudging throughout the day. A simple trick is to use a spoolie to comb out the excess product from your lashes and separate each lash to prevent them from clumping.
A spoolie can be anything. It can be an old (and clean) mascara wand, it can be a disposable mascara that you can get from most cosmetics counters for free if you ask nicely, it can be an eyebrow comb, it can be a dual-ended brush and spoolie, or it can be a dedicated handmade brush from the hair of horse or racoon.
Avoid thick eye cream/moisturizer near your eyes
If you find yourself still looking like a raccoon despite applying primer and powder, removing excess product from your lashes and applying mascara the right way, perhaps go all the way back and look at your skincare routine. Is your eye cream or moisturizer too thick and rich for day use?
Lash extensions solve many problems
I loved having lash extensions when I had them. I could be anywhere at anytime and look well made up even though I had nothing applied on my eyes. You can choose the type of curl (J-curl, C-curl, etc), the length of the lashes (choose shorter ones towards the inner corners, longer in the middle and even longer at the end), and density of lashes (the more strands, the more costly).
Basically, you can decide exactly how you want your lashes to look without going through the mundane task of applying and taking mascara off every day and night.
The downside is that you will have to get them touched up every month or so, which is something I find, as a busy mum of a toddler, too much of a luxury for now. Time is a luxury.
Falsies never smudge
False eyelashes, like lash extensions, are an alternative to mascara. You can drastically change your eye makeup look every single day with just a change in your choice of falsies. There are cheap ones that come in boxes of 20 pairs or more but I find Japanese ones from Dollywink and Miche Bloomin' the most comfortable and natural-looking.
Reusable magnetic lashes are more of a recent trend, an option that some people find lasts longer and is less wasteful than traditional falsies since magnetic ones can be re-used many times.
Falsies are more of a pain to apply, but you can be guaranteed that there will be no transfer of mascara.
How to choose a good waterproof and smudgeproof mascara
Not too many of us can afford lash extensions that require maintenance and falsies that can be costly in the long run.
Is it just me, or does anyone else enjoy the therapeutic effect of seeing your lashes go from non-existent to YOU LOOK GORGEOUS BABE with a few strokes of mascara?
Let us now understand the difference between waterproof and smudgeproof mascara.
What is waterproof mascara?
Waterproof mascara is resistant to water, which includes your tears and rain. Some people may want their eyelashes looking good when swimming so choosing a mascara that is water-resistant is a must. I’m guessing these swimmers keep their heads above the water or don’t wear swimming goggles.
A waterproof mascara should be sufficient on a daily basis. Well, that is, unless you have an oily eye area, live in a high humidity environment, and face common problems as mentioned earlier, which will then require a smudgeproof mascara.
What is smudgeproof mascara?
Especially in countries where humidity levels are always high, your skin secretes more oil and eyelashes get greasier too. A smudgeproof mascara is more resistant against oil and sweat.
So which should you pick? Waterproof or smudgeproof?
But, why choose?
For most of us, I know for sure that we want to find the product that solves as many problems as possible without breaking the bank.
Instead of wasting money getting a waterproof mascara to ward against moisture, PLUS a smudgeproof mascara to withstand humidity and naturally-occurring oils, I would rather invest in one mascara that does a great job at mastering both. Save money, save time!
This is everyone's tried and true bomb-diggity waterproof and smudgeproof mascara. Popular models always rave about it in Japanese women's fashion magazines like Pinky, Vivi, and Non-no. This mascara has charted on Japan@cosme rankings for probably a decade now.
Be very careful and get the correct Heroine Long & Curl Mascara! The Volume and Curl Mascara boldly claims to be 'super water proof'. Yea, but is it smudgeproof? Nope.
The Long and Curl Mascara, on the other hand, makes the same claim but works a lot better than its colleague. It holds the curl all day long and barely wilts. It can withstand napping (don't do this), rain, rubbing, swimming, and sweating.
In short, it is water-proof, smudge-proof, sweat-proof, nap-proof, shower-proof! ❤️
The Too Faced Better Than Sex waterproof version, in its green water-splashed effect packaging, has the same brush shape as the original version and also creates full lashes, but stays smudge proof, flake-free and transfer free throughout the day.
The result is a super black, mega volume and length-giving mascara that is buildable up to whatever intensity you desire. I find that the original pink packaging one allows me to layer up to almost a creepy doll effect (if that's what you're looking for) while the waterproof version goes on slightly more natural, but still more dramatic than Heroine Make's. For this reason, I find that Too Faced's mascaras go on best on my lower lashes.
Touted to be a dupe for the Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara, this mascara makes lashes look thicker, longer, not clumpy at all and holds a curl pretty well. If you're looking for a mascara that stays obediently on your lashes, without flaking or smearing, and you're on a budget, this is a great option.
People who find other waterproof mascara irritating on their sensitive eyes might find the perfect solution with this mascara. It is buildable, lightweight, lengthening, and volumizing without looking spidery or clumpy. The wand comes with thin spiky bristles, which make application easier than a chunky one like the Too Faced's, so you can reach the innermost lashes without poking your eyes. The tiny fibers hug lashes from root to tip, definitely good news for those with finer lashes.
One type of mascara that I've found that won't smudge on super oily skin is tubing mascara. Tubing mascara wraps your lashes with a gel rather than brush pigment onto lashes like normal mascara does. The solution isn't oil-soluble, which makes it smudgeproof.
Blinc is the only brand that exclusively makes tubing mascara, so I believe if you dare to only make one thing, you better be the best at it. Their mascara is pricier than drugstore mascaras, but if an investment can give me the results I want, I would choose that over a thousand cheaper less efficient alternatives. Blinc Mascara is truly the OG tubing mascara, so if you've been looking everywhere for a mascara that gives length and volume without smudging or flaking, this might be your unicorn!
A more affordable dupe is the L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Lengthening Mascara. This tubing mascara comes with a base coat on the other end to prep your lashes for the tubing.
If your budget allows for it, I would recommend the Blinc one. It does a better job with making lashes look longer and lasts longer on the lashes, as well as longevity in the tube before getting clumpy.
How to properly remove mascara (without pain)
Waterproof or smudgeproof mascara can be hard to remove with just warm water or even micellar water. When removing mascara, use a dedicated oil-based makeup remover for the eyes. Most oil-based makeup removers are now formulated to be gentle on the eyes and lips while removing all traces of eye makeup.
Some people use certain types of oil, like baby oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil. If it works for you, you do you. But because I have acne-prone skin, anything that is not cosmetically formulated, and especially if they're known to be comedogenic, will break me out.
If you have a love-hate relationship with your favorite mascara, or the Heroine Long and Curl Mascara, because of how difficult it is to take it off, you can purchase Heroine's Mascara Remover or try this failproof method:
- Pour oil-based makeup remover on 2 cotton pads, never on tissue as it can be too abrasive
- Hold it to your lashes for 30 seconds and gently wipe off
- Lift the eyelid to reach the tightlining area
Holding the cotton pads for 30 seconds is key to allowing the oil to loosen up any waterproof or smudgeproof mascara. This quick method of removing eye makeup first ensures that eye makeup is fully removed, there is no need for further rubbing during first cleanse, and you will not suffer from blurry vision @_@.
This method has worked brilliantly for me for years. What's also important is the formulation of the oil-based makeup remover. I have been using the Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover for years. It removes even the most stubborn mascara, liner and doesn't sting my eyes.
I hope these tips will help alleviate your mascara woes! 😄