Fact Checked

How do I Avoid Running Mascara?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Makeup experts recommend mascara as one of the five essential cosmetic products every face needs, but unfortunately running mascara is one of the biggest aggravations that makeup can cause. Things as simple and unpredictable as getting caught in the rain, being brought to tears, or aggravated allergies can ruin a perfectly made up face. To avoid running mascara, there are a few things you can do when purchasing mascara and applying it.

Buying waterproof mascara is one way to eliminate running mascara, but many people don’t like to use it. While a good waterproof mascara is ideal for preventing “raccoon” eyes, even in the pool, it’s not easy to remove at the end of the day. An eye makeup removal product is often necessary to remove all traces of waterproof mascara, or a similar, suitable substitution like baby oil. People with sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers often avoid waterproof mascara for this reason.

A woman wearing waterproof mascara.
A woman wearing waterproof mascara.

You don’t necessarily need to purchase waterproof mascara to minimize running, but don’t invest in cheap mascara either. Experiment with products that are "long wearing" or even waterproof mascara for sensitive eyes, which is more water resistant than waterproof, but can minimize running mascara all the same. Also look for mascara that has dual applicators with both a lash primer and a mascara. Similar to applying primer to a surface before painting, lash primer can help mascara adhere better and wear longer. It takes only a few additional seconds to apply, even with allowing for drying time in between applications, and can make a difference in the longevity and adhesion of your mascara.

A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.
A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.

Replace your mascara every six months, and immediately if you contract an eye infection. Bacteria from the eyes collect on the tips of the applicator brush and each time you replace the brush inside the container, the bacteria are transmitted. Over time, the collected bacteria can cause eye irritation, often resulting in watery eyes and the physical reaction of rubbing the eyes. Watery irritated eyes increase running mascara and smudges.

When applying mascara, use facial tissue or a small piece of toilet tissue as a barrier between lower lashes and the skin. This eliminates mascara being accidentally applied to the skin of the lower lid, which can run with the appearance of moisture. After applying all makeup, use a powder brush to apply loose powder over the entire face, including the eyes. Powder helps “set” makeup and increases the longevity of its overall wear. If you close your eyes while applying over your entire face, your lashes can benefit as well as your cheeks, lips, and eyelids. Just be sure mascara is dry before applying to avoid unintentional smudges and smears.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


If the skin around the eyes is moist from being covered in liquid foundation or cream, mascara is much more likely to run. This will create the unattractive, "raccoon" eyes appearance that the article mentions.

To prevent this from happening with your mascara, you do not have to forgo using foundations and creams. Simply apply them first, and make sure that you rub them into your skin completely. Next, apply a thin coat of loose or pressed facial powder around the eyes. This will help liquid foundations and creams to set into the skin, and prevent them from softening and melting the mascara on your lower lashes. With this simply trick, your mascara should last all day long.


A good way to prevent mascara from running is to make sure that each coat is completely dry before applying another coat. Most women find that they need to apply more than one coat of mascara to get the desired effect for their eyelashes. However, this process can become messy if it is not done correctly.

By applying one coat at a time and waiting at least several minutes before applying the next coat, the mascara will dry and will not have the tendency to smear onto the skin around the eyelashes. This process will also decrease clumping, which can also lead to running when clumps fall off the lashes and onto the skin.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A woman wearing waterproof mascara.
      A woman wearing waterproof mascara.
    • A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.
      By: haveseen
      A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.