Ask MBB: How Do You Get Eyeliner To Last Longer on Oily Lids?

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To

Ask MBB!

Ask MBB!

“I haven’t been able to find a khol pencil that lasts more than 2 hours on me. ๐Ÿ™ I have super oily lids and I really want to use this kind of look at the office (blaaack color in my upper and lower lash line pleaseee). Even if I put an eye shadow over, it smudges. Which one would you recommend? I’m desperate.”

— Karina

Hi Karina,

Never fear! Ideas: we haz ’em. ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s a lot you can do to hopefully help your eyeliner last longer, like…


1. It’s primetime, baby!

Have you given primer a try? An eye makeup primer — even if you don’t plan to apply shadow — can really keep everything in its place. My favorite is the one by NARS in the white tube, NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base.

It’s colorless, so it won’t mess with the color of your eyeliner, and it’ll keep your black liner black. It might even make it appear more intense! — because Pro-Prime has that effect on eye makeup.

Here’s a trick, though: make sure it’s completely dry before you apply your liner. Then, whatever you apply on top of it will be caught in Thor’s supernatural embrace (meaning it will not move).

Also with NARS Pro-Prime, you can even apply it to your brows or under your eyes to help your brow products or concealer last longer.

2. Let’s set in the shadow

I know you mentioned that you set your liner with shadow, but if you haven’t already, give it another try after using a primer. Sandwich ’em — your primer, liner and powder. That should help extend your wear time even more.

With black liner, sometimes I’ll team it up with MAC Carbon applied with a 266 Angled brush. I like the 266 for this because of how thin it is. I feel like I can get very precise with it and make my lines as skinny or as chunky as I want.

3. We’re gellin’!

I’m with you — I love the look of khol liner, but gels are great, too, and they’re incredibly long-wearing. My fave for a while has been MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack.

Yeah…gel liners require a brush, at least for me, but they’re pretty easy to apply once you get the hang of it. I like the Sonia Kashuk Bent Liner Brush, and Laura Mercier’s Flat Eyeliner Brush is great, too.

4. Game, set, match!

If you’re doing all of these things, and it’s still not enough, I have one more idea for you — a setting spray. I like Urban Decay All Nighter.


Um…but you have to use it before you apply your mascara. Just close your eyes, hold your breath (don’t want to inhale the mist!), and spray. ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope these help your eyeliner last longer, Karina. Let me know how it goes. If none of these tips work for you, I’ll try to think of something else.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,




Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 14 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Katherine M says:

    My lids are oily, too, and I can’t get away with just some primer, liner, and mascara (the Laura Mercier ones are the most likely to smudge or end up on my brow bones if I do not wear some type of shadow underneath). I can’t apply makeup unless my skin is freshly washed – I get enough oil that the makeup wouldn’t stay on for long no matter what I do. But, once it’s on, and I spray with my UD All Nighter spray (or Chill spray), it stays on and I don’t get oily during the day. Basically, I have to stick to a good skin routine and not skimp on anything. If I want to do the mascara and eyeliner and out-the-door look, I have found, especially with my fave Laura Mercier kohl liners, that I really do have to have primer and a neutral shadow on first. I can’t just do primer and bare lids unless I use something other than kohl. The shadow helps create a non-oily background before applying the liner for me. Hope it helps!

  2. April says:

    I have extremely oily lids, too, and I’ve finally found a way to keep eye makeup from sliding off. 1) NEVER put eye cream on your lids. 2) Foundation primer. 3) Foundation. 4) Eyeshadow primer. (Right now I’m using ELF, which is actually pretty good, but I normally use Too Faced Lemon Drop.) 5) Matte flesh-toned eyeshadow to seal it all in. As long as I follow each of those steps, my eye makeup stays on until I take it off, which is usually at least 12 hours later (and, a lot of times, includes a trip to the gym for an hour run). Of course, I also use waterproof liner. The new Urban Decay liners are amazing. The old 24/7 liners weren’t even close to 24/7 (more like 4/0), but the new formulation is amazing.

  3. Cindy KC says:

    I have really oily eyelids too! I have looked for years and tried everything under the sun but alas my eyeliner always smudged… No matter the primer, type of liner (including liquid), and eyeshadow used to seal it in.

    1) Prime with the Nars primer (it is seriously the best with the eyeliner. While Urban Decay, Smashbox, Etude House, Too Faced, Milani, and L’oreal all work well for shadow but none helped to keep my liner on my eyelids).

    2). Eyeshadow (if using a cream base I found that Makeup Forever aqua eyes cream shadows work best, everything else smudges at some point).

    3) Rimmel Scandal Eyes waterproof liner in black. (It is so black)

    4) Urban Decay De0Slick setting spray. I spray this after putting on waterproof mascara and have never had an issue with is smudging my mascara out.

    Even in the 100 degree plus heat I didn’t have smudge issues. I was out on hot concrete and was sweating but my eyeliner stayed put!

    Hope that helps.


    PS: I really have tried almost every type of liner. Everything from using Makeup Forever’s eyeliner sealer to Laura Mercier’s cake pan eyeshadow with tight line sealer to all drug store liners.
    Liquid didn’t stay put nor did gel (in all the brands I tried). I prefer pencil liner over all and the 2nd best was using MAC’s Carbon as a liner but the line wasn’t as black and it did migrate a bit.

  4. hanna says:

    Karen! These are great tips.
    hanna recently posted … Too many Goals for a Freshman

  5. A good primer does the trick for me! Too Faced Shadow Insurance is my go-to primer. It never fails me! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | Safeas Olive Sensitive Cleansing Milk

  6. Corinne says:

    I found a pencil that you don’t need to do all that extra stuff…well minus primer cuz that’s just standard. Pursebuzz gave a good review on it’s a liner by Gorgeous Cosmetics. Heard good things about the liner and stocked up at IMATS. I believe they sell the line at nordstrom now

  7. Sasha says:

    Tips 1,2 & 3 are a must for me. But I think if I had to chose just one product, it would be Blacktrack! I absolutely adore it, it hasn’t smudged for me once, even in the heat! I love topics like this;, it’s just nice to know you’re not the only one! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Carla N. says:

    I have INSANELY oily lids, even at the age of 50,and I use Trish McEvoy Essentials primer, “set” with a matte cream/bisque powder eyeshadow (I’m NW15), and I use Inglot Duraline with my powder eyeliner. It works great; I wear contacts in my oily-lidded eyes, and my liner still stays in place for hours.
    Also, I live in a warm, humid climate, so I have to make my makeup as close to “bullet-proof” as humanly possible, especially in summer.
    Hope this helps!

  9. Bessie says:

    I have SUPER oily lids and thought I could never wear eye liner for long days. Until I found this combination. NARS eyeshadow base and Ingot Matte Eyeliner Gel in shade 77 (black). The Inglot liner is sometimes okay by itself for me, but with NARS it’s unbeatable!

  10. Cristy says:

    As a makeup artist I use with my clients, Magnesium Milk!! And also where they need it, like the T zone or all the face! works wonders!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Gina says:

    Another thing you can try is to take a translucent setting powder and use a fluffy brush to dust it all over your lids before using the liner! If I’m doing liner and no shadow, I’ll load up my MAC 224 with my Make Up For Ever HD setting powder and sweep it over my lids and into the crease. It really helps!

  12. Maggie says:

    Firstly, no matter what you use, use VERY SMALL AMOUNTS. Don’t use a ton at once. Less is more for oily skin. If not enough, work in layers or areas at a time.

    1) I use a gel-based (water-based) eye cream to start. Let it DRY for a few minutes. Wipe off excess if I have to. (my eyelids get veryoily LATER if they’re not moisturized first–plus, they get irritated.)

    2) Then I follow Karen’s steps. Prime first with only a TINY amount–let it dry (but not for a few minutes–for some reason, you need primer to DRY up to a minute.) And you might need to experiment–people tend to have success with primers from Urban Decay, Too Faced, Lorac Pro, Milani, Nars, and Makeup Forever.

    3) I do one layer gel liner–then let it dry.

    4) I set it with a light layer of long-lasting shadow–like the single L’Oreal Infallible Shadow.

    5) I repeat Steps 3 & 4 if I want more layers–esp if I want to smoke it out.

    6) Spritz UD Setting Spray.

  13. Karina says:

    Thank you!!! I’m going to try all of this ๐Ÿ™‚ Wish me luck hehehe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge