19 Jul 2009

Ask Me Beauty: My eye are runny and cause smudging

Whenever I put any eyeliner or shadow right around the outer corners of my eyes, it never lasts. My eyes water a lot or I just blink a lot and the colour ends up coming off and looking terrible. Any suggestions on making the colour stay?

Dear Victoria,

Unfortunately there is no 100% foolproof method for preventing smudging, especially where watery eyes are concerned. But here are tips on how you can reduce it.

First, using a good eyeshadow base is the most important part. I really like Urban Decay Primer Potion because it lasts really long and prevents creasing. But in some cases, even this might not be waterproof enough for some people. Another method you could use is using either a gel eyeliner such as the MAC Fluidline or any other brand as a base, because gel eyeliners are really long lasting and don't easily come off with just water. You could also use a waterproof or water resistant eyeliner pencil and smudge that as a base. Even if some of the eyeshadow comes off a little bit after hours of extended wear, the base will help it last longer. The MAC Liquidlast liners also stay on forever. Switch to using a waterproof mascara if your mascara tends to run, and avoid kohl and soft pencils as eyeliners, I prefer gel eyeliners for this reason. You will have to use an oil-based eye makeup remover to take these products off at the end of the day.

The other thing you want to consider is what is causing using your eyes to water in the first place. Reducing the culprit might be better than just treating the symptoms. Your eyes might be watering due to allergies, maybe it's a product you're reacting too, or other agents such as pet dander, smoke, pollen, etc. Try to eliminate any agents that are causing runny, water eyes in the first place, or treat allergies with an anti-histamine.

Another common issue is skin dryness. I have noticed this on myself, if I use an eye cream, especially on the outer corners and let that sink in before applying makeup, it somehow reduces the watering.

Lastly, if your eyes are watering, it could be a natural way for your eye to cleanse itself of foreign bodies that have entered the eye socket - for example shadow fall-out during application, or product on the waterline. Be really careful not to get eyeshadow fallout into the eye during application, and skip using makeup products on the tightline and waterline all together if you have sensitive eyes. It might be irritating your eyes and they are trying to "wash away" the products naturally by producing tears. An easy trick I do is after I finish my eye makeup, I use a Q-tip moistened with my own saliva (sounds gross but only do this on yourself, your saliva contains natural anti-septics and because it's a natural fluid, it will not irritate your eyes at all, unlike makeup remover) and run it along the inner parts of my eye to remove any product fallout, especially on the waterline, tearduct and outer corners. You'll be amazed at the product gunk that sometimes comes out, and this really reduces the tear production of my eyes. If I notice watering during application, I use a dry Q-tip and just hold it in the place of the seepage to absorb the "eye juice", it prevents smudging of the makeup.

Unfortunately there's no 100% guaranteed way to prevent runniness of the eyes. If you have naturally water eyes, it's likely that even with all these tips, your makeup might need a few touch ups during the day, but hopefully these tips will help to improve your situation a little bit.

If you have a beauty related question and need advice, please email your question to askmebeauty@gmail.com The best questions will be published on my blog, your anonymity is guaranteed.


  1. This is a very common question. I find that during the summer my eyes produce more tears and oils than other times of the year. Eyeshadow bases are so helpful. Your tips were spot on. Thanks!

  2. This is a very common question. I find that during the summer my eyes produce more tears and oils than other times of the year. Eyeshadow bases are so helpful. Your tips were spot on. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the great tips.. This is one of the common problems I have with my makeup too! <3
    I thought that the Q-tip idea was interesting...

  4. Anonymous9:22 am

    Hi Julia,

    I'm a fan of your blog and your Youtube channel, and I find your tips and tutorials to be very helpful.

    However, in this case, I can't help but be concerned that you're advising people to use saliva on the inner rims of their eyes. Just because something is 'natural' doesn't mean that it can't cause harm. Saliva may have a few antiseptic properties, but it has a lot of bacteria in it, which can further irritate eyes, and maybe cause an eye infection.

    As someone with sensitive eyes, I sympathize about eye makeup remover being too harsh. (I myself wouldn't dream of running it along my waterline.) Perhaps moistening the cotton swab with Artificial Tears eye drops is a better idea. (Eye drops meant to treat redness are not intended for long term use because your body becomes dependent on them after a point.)

    Again, I really enjoy your blog and your videos.

    ~Chandni Kitti

  5. You can use something else but I've honestly been doing this for years on my own eyes and never had a problem. Sure, probably not a good idea after just eating chili or if you have a cavity or something, but saliva is actually a really anti-septic agent. That's why animals lick their wounds in the wild - it cleans and disinfects the wounds. But again, you can use something else if you feel more comfortable with it. I highly doubt you will get an eye infection using this method though.

  6. Anonymous9:40 pm

    I have fairly sensitive, watery eyes and I've been doing the saliva and Q-tip thing for years with good results. It's a good tip! :)

  7. Anonymous7:01 am

    Hi... i just would like to explain part of the information provided by chandni kitti, first i do think that between saliva and eye drops, the eye drops are defently more igenics than saliva and it's also something that you could use if your are putting makeup on someone else...
    but... the tears contains (sorry i dont know how to write this in english!) Betasilina and lisozima. this are enzimas that destroy the bacterias that goes into the eyes, and also contain Lactoferrina wich is another antiseptic. this dosent means that our eyes are super eyes and that we couldnt get an infection on them... however... it is very very difficult to get infections on the eyes... in normal situation in order to get infection on your eye you need a lot of dirt to anulate their efect. so i think... that a few cc of saliva will not hurt... (it is true it has plenty bacterias and other microorganisim but it also contains lizosima so its not so much harmful...)

    att. Leticia

  8. Thanks for sharing your thought on runny and cause smudging.

  9. Christy7:00 am

    I have used urban decay and my crease area still comes off every time. Does anyone know of a cement product to use....lol any advice would be helpful!!!