How Do You Get Eyeliner to Stay on Oily Lids?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To


Back in my early twenties my eyelids were super oily; I could’ve fried bacon and eggs with all that grease, yo!


Finding an eyeliner that would stay put was a challenge… Most would wind up smeared under my lower lash line or disappeared completely.

Reader Julie feels my pain!

At the end of the day my eyeliner moves below my lower lash line… I think I might have oily eyelids. Do you have any tips? And can you recommend a few eyeliners for oily lids? Thanks!


Heya Julie,

Oily lids are such a chore, aren’t they? Not to worry — your days o’ disappearing liner are numbered! Here are (at least) three things that should help that liner stay in place.

Ladies, if you have any other oily eyelid tips or suggestions for Julie, please share them in the comments.

1. Use a makeup primer

My eyelids aren’t as greasy as they once were, but I think they’re still oilier than average. Applying a makeup primer before I line my eyes helps A TON! I really like Urban Decay’s Sin Primer Potion ($17). A thin layer makes eyeliner stick to my lids like glue.

2. Change your routine

Some eyeliners straight-up last longer than others do, so you might want to try a new one. A few I like and use are MAC Fluidline ($15), MAC Liquidlast Liner ($17), Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil ($16) and Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes ($17) (these liners last on the waterline, too).

3. Set your liner with powder

One last thing to try: set your liner with a coordinating powder eyeshadow. I’ll use the MAC 266 Small Angle Brush ($20) or the MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush ($25) to pat the eyeshadow directly on top of my liner. That seems to help lock it in place.

Ugh, oily eyelids!My oily-skinned homegirls, how do you get your eyeliner to play well with your lids? What products do you love (or loathe!), and what are your favorite tips and tricks?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Glosslizard says:

    Hi Karen and Julie!

    I too have migrating eye makeup trubs! In addition to those great hints (thanks, Karen!) I try to curb the flow by using a small fluffy brush to dust a little powder (my favorite for this us Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder) at the area around the outer corners of my eyes. I don’t powder the entire undereye area, because powders tend to accentuate the fine lines under my eyes (grrr…) if I go too far toward the inner corner. I find that this helps in keeping liner and mascara from moving too far afield!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Glosslizard,

      Looks like I’m gonna have to get a vat of that MUFE powder. It sounds like it’s a crowd fave.

      How’s your weekend going so far? I just got back from brunch with my family. I think El Hub and I are gonna either go to the mall to window shop or to the bookstore later. πŸ™‚

  2. hey karen & julie!

    i don’t really have oily eyelids, but i do have asian eyes, that makes it hard for eyeliner to stay on, especially on the bottom lid! coupled with the need to do stage makeup every other friday does not help, especially if the show is at a dance studio with high humidity hot lighting.

    what i like to do is applying a colorless primer (i like too faced shadow insurance) or concealer, and then setting it with a colorless powder (like MAC blot). after that, i will use mainly POWDER eyeshadows, not creams, to do the rest of my eye. after that, i use a freshly sharpened pencil (i like GOSH denmark’s velvet touch pencil, it says on like a muthatrucka), smudge it in with one of those spongy applicator thingies, and line with a waterproof liquid or gel eyeliner (bobbi brown longwearing gel & MAC fluidline are both great). this will still smudge a LITTLE bit, but not as badly, so that it will still look great at the end of the night!
    .-= ines + cha cha’s last blog post… Building a Makeup Collection =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ines,

      Thanks for these tips! I like the idea of idea of layering the waterproof liner on top of the smudged pencil liner. I’ll have to try that soon.

      Hope you’re having a nice weekend so far! Send my love to Cha Cha!

  3. Demi says:

    Hey Karen and Julie!

    Well i know what you eyelids are oily to! I always use a fluidliner i use mac blacktrack or a cheaper version by madminerals and then I always use a eyeshadow primer like urban decay primer potion or mac paintpot ( you can buy a cheaper version at ) But i have noticed that with the primer potion my eyeliner stays great all day and night long. The paint pot is pretty good but doesn’t stay all night long because it will start to crease a bit)

    So I hope you have found my tips usefull

  4. Hannah says:

    A few years ago when I stopped by my friendly neighboorhood Sephora for some SheLaq (STAY AWAY FROM IT!!!) the SA pointed out the MUFE HD Micropowder, which works wonders and allows the eyeliner to “pop”as well.

  5. Redhead says:

    – I ALWAYS apply a base, from lashline to brow bone and on the lower lashline too! MAC Paint in Bare Canvas is my HG. I then dust MAC Shroom (eye-brightening neutral beige) from lashline to brow bone to set (don’t worry about dusting the lower lids, we’ll travel-proof them later).
    – After you’ve applied liner on the top, you may or may not smudge it. What you do to the upper liner doesn’t matter so much because you then set it with matte shadow. If you still want your liner to show through, applying another layer over the shadow will work and it won’t slip.
    – Now for the lower lashline/waterline! When lining the lower lashline, smudging and blending the liner is a MUST. Not only does it look amazing, but it spreads your liner out farther, making it easier to adhere to the skin. For the waterline, just apply your liner and set that with matte eyeshadow on top of it. I’ve heard good things about L’Oreal Loose Kohl and how long it stays on the waterline and eyes in general, so you might wanna look into that.

    Good luck!

  6. Molly says:

    i’ve taken a liking to using eyeshadows as eyeliners. they’re great for a natural look, because they’re not as harsh. you can also wet them first. and it’s alot easier!

    also, if i use a waxy pencil, i set it with an eyeshadow in the same color. it’s a great way to make it stay and fix mistakes.

    and i read somewhere to apply translucent powder on your lids and lower lash line before applying eyeliner, it absorbs grease.

  7. Elena says:

    Hi Karen and Julie,

    I’m still facing this problem myself. I agree with Karen on using a primer; when I want to wear a heavier line or accentuate the line with eyeshadow, I use Too Faced Insurance primer (Karen recommended this one a while back πŸ™‚ ), and make sure to blend the shadow in really well with a brush (I use EcoTools.) Sometimes, I’ll use a Paint Pot as a second base, such as MAC’s Bare Study or the L’Oreal HIP Paints.

    I agree with Karen as well: the right brand makes all the difference. The Urban Decay 24/7 liners and Make Up Forever Aqua liners are the best I’ve tried (and I’ve tried drugstore liners from all brands, and Lancome and Dior (birthday gifts, lol.)) Don’t worry about the price for these either, my Urban Decay eyeliner is still going strong even after months of daily use, and same goes for the primer and Paint Pot. πŸ™‚

  8. Elena says:

    Oh – and use a brush to smudge the line! My friend taught me that and it works wonders in helping staying power.

  9. Shefali says:

    Sephora makes an amazing product that’s an eyeliner sealant. I use it on upper and lower lashlines and my eyeliner NEVER budges. It’s amazing. I can wear any eyeliner I want (including non-waterproof) and I don’t have to worry. I think Benefit’s She-Laq does the same thing, but Sephora’s might be cheaper.

  10. Isabel says:

    I agree that MAC Fluidline really does stay put like a CHAMP on oily lids, even through humid weather.

    Some good DS alternatives are Revlon Colorstay (good color selection) and Almay’s original 16-hr eyeliner (good for sensitive eyes).

    Great advice! especially for hot summer weather.

  11. Marce says:

    Oily eyelids? Oh yeah, that rings a bell! πŸ˜€
    I used to use pencil liners and they disappeared in no time, I thought I hadn’t even put any on. Until I got MAC Fluidline, that baby provided rich colour and lasted for hours. Even better with pencil liner on top! I suppose any gel liner would work great though, I wouldn’t know since where I live there’s not that wide a choice.
    Another tip, if you want to give it a try, is to eat healthy, reduce fatty and dairy foods, soft drinks and alcohol (or just eat more healthy and drink hella loads of water) so as to reduce oiliness. That’s a tip my doctor gave me and it’s working pretty well.
    Hope that helps! πŸ™‚
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… Look – Dark Dandy =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marce,

      Good call on the food tip — I notice a huge difference if I’m not drinking enough water!

      Which MAC Fluidline is your fave? I’m rockin’ the Graphic Brown today.

  12. Glosslizard says:

    That sounds like a wonderful afternoon! Enjoy! πŸ™‚

  13. Kiley says:

    Fellow oily lid sufferer here! For many years I’d wear eyeliner only to have it migrate to my eyebags after a few hours, and making me look like a zombie. Not cool. It’s also the reason why I stopped wearing eyeshadows completely πŸ™ I have tried UD Primer Potion, but it completely dried out my sensitive skin and made it chafe when I blinked. Ouch. Even just a little bit of the primer made my eyelid uncomfortable so instead I stick to eyeliners. UD’s eyeliners are my HG but as they’re expensive I only wear them for special occasions. For everyday use, it’s the NYC waterproof eyeliner or the Wet n Wild eyeliner (which comes in a cute little pot). They’re not perfect, but I definitely have more wearage out of these than with regular eyeliners.

  14. Rosie says:

    I am hooked on urban decay primer potion, MUFE waterproof eye pencils and UD 24/7 eye pencils.. however if you ever see a NYC waterproof eye pencil in your drugstore, snap it up. It doesnt come in many colors like the MUFE & UD but it’s $3 and works just as well!!!! Problem is they are hard to find.

  15. Stephie says:

    After a primer I set with my face powder then do the shadow/liner and for the lower lashline I pat my face powder right below after setting my pencil with powder. The face powder is like an extra barrier to keep the colored e/s from moving as well.

    But if it gets hot and sticky I find eye make up will smudge no matter what so I try to keep it simple enough to touch up for later. πŸ˜›

  16. Marisol says:

    Great tips. My lower lash line always travels so I usually don’t apply liner but I am gonna try your tips.
    .-= Marisol’s last blog post… Daily Affirmation =-.

  17. Elena says:

    Hey Karen,

    So far, I’ve only tried Zero from Urban Decay and Dark Grey from MUFE. I love the Urban Decay one, although I still wish it were cheaper, but it’s the BEST eyeliner I’ve ever used and I will repurchase. I like the MUFE, but the lasting power is not as impressive to me. I’m eyeing Rockstar or Stash for my next purchase. πŸ™‚

    Hope you have a great Monday, Karen (and Tabs.) πŸ˜€

  18. bomi says:

    i make sure i blot extra pencil liner off my lids w/ an eyeshadow sponge applicator and then set it w/ powder.
    it usually works….. unless its 100 degrees outside haha.

  19. LaLa says:

    I tried in vain to find an eyeliner for my oily lids. UD’s Zero and BB’s gel eyeliner didn’t stayed very long on my lids and disappeared almost instantly from my waterline. Then I tried Revlon’s ColorStay eyeliner and that’s been my holy grail every since — it even lasts all day on the waterline.

  20. Nadrah says:

    try l’oreal hip cream eyeliner in black and blue(haven’t tried the others). it works for me on my oily eyelids with or without eyeshadow base! really great stuff, i much prefer it to pencils.

  21. TerriB says:

    Urban Decay’s Velvet Rope set includes six generous sample eyeliners, and I picked one up at Ulta this past weekend for $13.99. Not sure if that low price is everywhere, but it is a great value for trying the shades and seeing if they stay put for you.

  22. Sakura says:

    Liquid liners like Physicians formula, Maybelline, and the best is this Japanese kind that I use:

    Maybelline’s is really hard to remove, the others can be removed w/water.

    If you use a primer you can keep your eyeshadow and pencil liner on well. I found that primer isn’t necessary to keep on the liquid liner. Urban Decay’s I haven’t tried, but Toofaced shadow insurance works well.

  23. Demi says:

    Hey karen…

    I always use the original..and I think the sin one isn’t availabe in Holland ( were i live so )..

    Oh and another to apply first the UDPP and over that a paint pot..this will never crease and your eyeliner will last all day and night long…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Demi,

      I hope you get to try the Sin version soon. If you love the original, then you might love that one even more!

      Oh, and the UD Primer plus Paint Pot combo is so fab! πŸ™‚

  24. Kitty says:

    I’m a little late, but I had to vent on this one. I line my waterline and lower lash line, because I have deep-set eyes and it’s what looks good on me. I use UDPP, UD 24/7 liner, AND powder shadow, and my eyeliner STILL melts into the wrinkles under my eyes (which I probably shouldn’t have, considering I’m 19). It drives me crazy!

  25. Rachel H says:

    Hi Karen & All.

    My lids are like oil fields. Living in South East Asia -where humidity is regularly 80-90% and temperatures are often 35 celsius, is very challenging on eyeliner and make up in general.

    From my experience:
    UD 24/7 are so pretty – but even that oils up and fades a little on me after 4-6 hours outdoors.
    Fluidline and the like – do smudge slightly but never in an unfattering racoon way.
    GOSH Velvet Touch liners are pretty but how well they hold up varies from colour to colour.
    Metallic coloured Sephora Waterproof have pretty good dupes of UD (e.g. Bourbon) and last equally well if not better.
    But I think the champ has got to be Gosh Extreme Art Liners – which are the equivalent of MAC liquidlasts in terms of (some) colours, packaging and durability. Basically they won’t come off unless you use cleansing oil. No base is required, but application requires a steady hand.

    Hope that helps.

  26. Kari says:

    Hi Karen,
    ok, i have oily eyelids and its weird. i either put eyeliner or eyeshadow on, then a a few minutes later it gets a weird colored greasy look and loses its beauty πŸ™ then my eyes get irritated. It’s strange. Do you know any products that can help my problem? Thank u! <3

  27. ashley says:

    i shampoo hair at a salon and the steam from the water melts my makeup plus i have oily lids. I find these eyeshadows wortk the best. 1. shisedo 2. chanel ombre d’eau (liquid eyeshadow).

  28. Hannah says:

    Wow I’m pretty late in the replying part!

    Karen, I’m sure you have tried dozens of makeup, so I’m probably asking you so that I don’t have to buy too much makeup and end up hating it! I have tried UD, MUFE aqua eyes, Revlon and Mac eyeliners (still become an oil slick even after TFSI ) Sad, isn’t it?

    I was thinking of buying the Chanel cake eyeliner things? Or any other brands you can suggest? What do you think??

  29. Nikkita says:

    hello (: im sixteen and im having trouble with eyeliner! When i apply it, its comes off like practically straight away! i’ve gone from pencil liner to wet. waterproof and all and it still comes right off when i apply it to the upper and lower waterline. my friends can apply it once and it lasts them the whole day!

  30. Shamona says:

    I have super oily eyelids also. I can make powder eyeshadow turn to creamy goo in 20 minutes or less. Then it disappears or ends up smeared into the creases of my eye. Eyeshadow primer is my only savior. I use one from NARS, and it works great.

  31. Melissa says:

    Thanks everyone for the tips. Quick question – if you use UD primer potion, do you HAVE to put eyeshadow over top to make your eyeliner stay? I also have very oily lids and have yet to find something that works and doesn’t take long to apply (I like minimal makeup application time πŸ™‚

    Just an aside.. I also have very oily t-zone and I have finally found something that keeps my skin basically oil free all day. Cliniques Pore Minimizer T-Zone shine control. I put it on in the morning after moisturizer and don’t put any foundation or powder on after and my skin stays oil free.

  32. Picturecrazed says:

    I have oily lids and I use Urban Decay primer(Sephora carries two different ones) and for my eyeliner I use MAC liquid eyeliner which I’m getting pretty good at applying it!

  33. Kitkat says:

    Hairspray helps my eyeliner to stay on for longer but make sure you close your eyes! (I’ve done THAT one before haha). I have the most oily skin on the planet and although it doesnt last ALL day, it definitely helps x

  34. Beth says:

    I have quite oily eyelids! :/ I hate it! My eyeliner never stays! But! I figured out that it’s best to just use a liquid liner that hardens! It doesn’t smear! I use Maynelline mega liner the waterproof one. It’s like $5. It’s awesome!

  35. Pat says:

    Although I am 66 I still love to put a little eyeliner on. Don’t know whether my eyes have sunk a little but I have bought Bobbi Brown, Body shop, Laura Geller etc etc but nothing stays on. I use primer but after an hour or so the liner is up on my eyelids and not in my eyes. Just been reading about something you mix with your eyeliner and it stays put so will try that. Any other tips would be welcome.

  36. Angelie says:

    Hi Gals

    Im looking for an eyeliner ONLY for the WATERLINE. Whatever I use always smudges.

    Plz recommend a black eyeliner strictly for the waterline and can i prime or base the waterline is this possible???

  37. Karen says:

    I’ve tried MAC eyeliner, your local drugstore brands and nothings works. Tried Urban Decay primer and still with an hour my eyeliner has disappeared. Any other suggestions?

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