3 Ways To Winter-Proof Your Mascara So It Won't Smudge

Plus, must-have formulas for lush lashes.
3 Ways To Winter-Proof Your Mascara So It Won't Smudge

Snow, sleet and bitter cold—not to mention a souped-up skincare routine—can wreak havoc on your eye makeup. If your mascara has been letting you down, there are easy ways to winter-proof the way you apply it for high-impact lashes that won’t smudge, flake, clump or break.

We asked Toronto-based makeup artist Sophie Hsin to share her top tips on how to stop mascara from smudging and flaking in winter. Read on for a step-by-step guide to banishing mascara transfer, plus some formulas worth checking out.

Pink background with colourful mascara swipes and two black mascara wands, how to stop mascara from smudging (Photo: Erik Putz. Styling: Stephanie Han Kim)

1. Take it all off

Starting with a clean slate ensures the mascara will adhere properly. The eye area is notoriously delicate, so use a gentle cleanser or makeup remover that will wash away long-lasting pigment without damaging lashes. For a lusher fringe, Hsin suggests incorporating a lash serum into your routine.

2. Create a dry canvas

Oils—whether naturally occurring or found in your face and eye creams—can cause mascara to migrate or run. To prevent smudging this, apply a light dusting of translucent powder under the eyes, on the lids and on the brow bone. Follow with a few dabs of blotting paper throughout the day.

If you still experience smudging, consider switching to an oil-free moisturizer if you have an oilier skin type, says Hsin.

3. Cocktail your formulas

For falsie-like lashes that won’t budge, try layering multiple formulas and topping them off with a coat of waterproof mascara. Hsin recommends applying the waterproof coat from the middle of the lashes to the tip. “It seals the look while allowing the makeup remover to seep in and dissolve the product more easily,” she says.

The best mascara formulas that won't smudge or flake in winter

L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Lift Mascara, $18

L'Oréal Telescopic Lift mascara on white background, how to stop mascara from smudging

A viral sensation on TikTok, L'Oréal's Telescopic Lift mascara gives lashes falsies-like length—without the fuss. The wand boasts two types of bristles: one to lift and deposit product that's perfect for ultra-long top lashes, and one designed to separate. Reviewers note that it's giving more length than they thought possible and stays put all day.

Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Mascara, $38

Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara, how to stop mascara from smudging and flaking

This mascara is notoriously tricky to take off, which makes it a must-try for those looking for a formula that can stand up to daily life and inclement weather. Expect plenty of length and definition. Bonus: The domed wand is perfect for precise application and coating tiny, hard-to-reach lashes.

Milk Makeup Kush Volumizing Mascara, $38

MILK MAKEUP KUSH High Volumizing Mascara, how to stop mascara from smudging

Formulated with conditioning cannabis seed oil and a vegan beeswax alternative, this mascara features a large brush that delivers lush lashes with just a few swipes. Fans of the formula swear by it, with one Sephora reviewer noting they have been using it since they were 12 years old.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara, $14

Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara, how to stop mascara from smudging


This cult favourite boosts volume and holds a curl better than many of its pricier counterparts. (For even more lasting power, opt for the waterproof formula.) The curved brush may look intimidating, but it's the perfect shape to get maximum lift.

BareMinerals Strength & Length Serum-Infused Mascara, $30

Bare Minerals Strength and Length Mascara, how to stop mascara from smudging


Formulated with a plant-based lash serum infused with strengthening peptides, this mascara helps keep lashes hydrated and healthy to prevent breakage. The wand's short bristles are the perfect size for bottom lashes.

Originally published in 2021, updated in 2023.

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