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The case of the disappearing eye makeup

Makeup doesn't always stay where we put it. Eye makeup can be particularly problematic.

Do you suffer from run-away mascara? These tips can help.
Do you suffer from run-away mascara? These tips can help.Read moreiSTOCKPHOTO

Makeup doesn't always stay where we put it. Eye makeup can be particularly problematic.

Sometimes, you end up with eyeliner smudged low on your cheeks. (Remarkably low. Like, how exactly did the eyeliner get all the way down there?) Sometimes, the makeup just disappears altogether — poof! — leaving no trace behind.

But smoky-eyed hope is not lost! Here's how to solve the case of the disappearing eye makeup.

Carefully time the application of your eye cream. If products or serums that you've applied to your eye area haven't fully dried and set, it becomes  easy for anything applied on top to smear, smudge, or simply disappear. To keep that from happening, I apply my potions first thing in the morning, then enjoy my coffee. Once I apply my makeup, everything is dry.

Primer. Maybe you have magic eyelids, but I need to use an eyeshadow primer if I want my makeup to last. My two favorites are the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $22 at Sephora, and the Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer, $23 at Ulta. Use the tiniest amount (about the size of half a pea) and tap the product into your eyelid. Planning an eye look that will involve shadow extending up to your brow bone or below the lower lash line? Apply primer in those spots, too.

Setting powder. After you've applied an even layer of primer, it's best to set it with powder. That keeps the primer in place and helps to combat oily eyelids — another common cause of shadow slippage. I prefer using a yellow-based powder like the bareMinerals Well-Rested Eye Brightener Broad Spectrum, $20 at Ulta, because it helps to counteract dark shadows, but any powder that you use and love will work.

Waterproof eyeliner. If you have trouble with runaway eyeliner, you need to use a waterproof formula. That doesn't mean you need to skip out on the fun — the stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, $22 at Sephora, comes in basic black and brown, but also teal and periwinkle. And it really does stay all day — you'll need makeup remover to get it off.

Pick your mascara carefully. Mascara selection can be very personal, because a formula that works for one person may not for the next. (I adore the Benefit Cosmetics They're Real Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara, $24 at Sephora, but I've heard from others who found that formula too heavy for their lashes.) If your mascara frequently leaves you looking like a raccoon, pick a waterproof formula (try the Buxom Lash Waterproof Mascara, $20 at Sephora) and be sure not to apply it to the lower lashes.

Alison Smith spends too much time on her eye makeup to watch it disappear. Got a burning beauty question? Email