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What is Smudge Proof Mascara?

By Dorothy Distefano
Updated May 21, 2024
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Smudge proof mascara is a cosmetic used to darken, thicken, and lengthen eyelashes without smearing onto the surrounding skin. It is available in numerous hues. The formulation differs from regular mascara and waterproof mascara, while giving similar cosmetic results.

Most modern mascaras are in cream form, in a tube with an applicator wand attached to the cap. In 1917, when mascara was first invented by Eugene Rimmel, mascara was a combination of petroleum jelly and coal dust compressed into a cake and applied with a small brush. Cake mascaras are rarely used today, and modern versions have much more complex formulas.

A disadvantage to wearing mascara is the tendency for the product to smear if the eyes are rubbed during the day or simply during normal wear. Smudge proof mascara is formulated to resist transferring it to the surrounding skin. The most recent versions include acrylic copolymers that form tiny tubes around the eyelashes as they dry. Removal is easy with warm water and gentle massage around the eye area. The smudge proof mascara will come off as small flecks or tubes, and will not smear during removal.

In contrast, regular mascaras mostly consist of pigments and waxes. While the darkening, lengthening, and thickening properties are effective, this mascara is more prone to smudging or running. Regular mascara is easily removed with soap and water.

Waterproof mascara contains a solvent that makes it resistant to moisture. Sweat, tears, rain, or water generally do not affect this type of mascara. Special eye makeup remover is necessary to gently remove waterproof mascara without damaging or pulling the eyelashes.

Aside from smudge proof mascara, there are several ways to keep the pigments of mascara from transferring to the skin. Make sure all moisturizers and eye creams are absorbed into the skin prior to application. The oils from these products can cause mascara to smudge. Also, apply any concealers to the under eye area and then lightly powder with a translucent powder.

Before applying mascara, wipe any excess from the tip of the wand so that it does not clump on lashes or transfer to the skin. Carefully brush the wand through the upper lashes to coat them with mascara. Use the tip of the wand to apply the product to lower lashes. Any errant mascara can be lifted from the skin with a clean, dry cotton swab.

Whether a regular, waterproof, or smudge proof mascara is chosen, make sure to replace it every three to six months to prevent a build up of bacteria. Bacteria can cause inflammation, irritation, or infection in the eye. If an infection occurs, discard any remaining product and use a new tube once the infection has cleared.

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Discussion Comments

By fify — On Jan 17, 2015

I always use smudge proof mascara too. Along with an eyeshadow primer and waterproof eyeliner, my eye makeup is basically impenetrable! I once worked for ten hours straight and when I got back home, my makeup was still as good as it was in the morning.

By ddljohn — On Jan 17, 2015

@discographer-- You need to purchase an oil based eye makeup remover. You may think that you don't need it but you do. Believe me, it makes a huge difference when it comes to removing waterproof eye makeup.

I've had the same issue as you and have tried several different types of eye makeup removers. Finally, I discovered that a water based eye makeup remover works best. You just need to pour some onto a cotton ball. Make sure there is enough but it shouldn't be drenched. You don't want it in your eye. Then close your eye and gently wipe with the cotton ball. You can also keep it on your eyelashes for a few seconds to coat them with the cleanser completely.

With this product and method, waterproof mascara is off in no time. It really makes everything so much easier. Lashes are clean and ready for more mascara in the morning.

By discographer — On Jan 16, 2015

I've used regular mascara for years and recently switched to waterproof mascara. It's great to know that my mascara isn't smudging and making a mess without my knowledge during the day. But I'm having difficulty with the removal process.

Regular mascara comes off very easily with just soap and water. I used to gently wash it off when I was washing my makeup off with a facial cleanser. But this is not enough for waterproof mascara. I have to wash several times to remove it. This is the biggest disadvantage of this type of mascara.

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