Difference Between Smudgeproof And Waterproof Mascara


Did you know there’s a difference between smudgeproof mascaras and waterproof mascaras? You can use the best or splurge on the most expensive waterproof mascara out there, but if you have naturally oily skin around the eye, those racoon eyes will be here to stay.

Read on to find out why waterproof mascara may not be the best for you!

Do you look like that when you cry?

Or like that by mid-day, every day?

Well, well, the first lady probably needs a waterproof mascara while the second lady, a smudgeproof mascara.

The first time I got to know that they differ was at the cosmetic counters at DFS Galleria Singapore.  Even though I use waterproof mascara and don’t rub my eyes, I always had small black circles on the undereye caused by mascara smudging and flaking on the skin. A high-end mascara must be the means to the end of my mascara woes, I thought.

Without any brand in mind, I wandered into the cosmetics arena. A friendly MUA came up to me and asked if I needed help, and the rest they say, is mascara history. LOL.

I was recommended the Anna Sui Super Black Volume Up Mascara, which to this day is still my favorite mascara. It comes in a pretty tube with a handle shaped like a flower about to bloom. It does an excellent job of volumizing sparse eyelashes that look naturally thick and smells of a sweet rose garden. Here’s my review on what I think is the best waterproof and smudgeproof volumizing mascara. Ironically, there is no mention of ‘smudgeproof’ or ‘waterproof’ on the Anna Sui Mascara tube or box.

Around me were many other brands of mascaras and I pointed to Helena Rubenstein, asking why not that. The MUA then told me the difference between mascaras that are smudgeproof and those that are water-resistant.

I think it is necessary and extremely useful to know that waterproof and smudgeproof mascaras are made for different purposes so that you won’t waste money on a mascara that does not serve your needs. Now let’s get started!

What is waterproof mascara?

Waterproof mascara is resistant to water and tears. Some people may still want their eyelashes mascara-fied (LOL) even when swimming so choosing a mascara that is water-resistant is a must. I’m guessing these swimmers keep their heads out of the water or don’t wear swimming goggles.

Because you never know when you will cry or get caught in the rain, it is good to apply waterproof mascara on a daily basis. Well, unless you have an oily eye area, which will then require a smudgeproof mascara.

Recommended Waterproof Mascara:

Dior DiorShow Waterproof Mascara

Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Waterproof Mascara

What is smudgeproof mascara?

Unless you plan on getting your face wet, I recommend using a smudgeproof mascara if you have an oily eye area. Especially in countries where humidity levels are always on a high (Lovely Singapore!), your skin secretes more oil and eyelashes get greasier too. A smudgeproof mascara is more resistant against oil and sweat.

I don’t ever do this, but some say that non-smudge mascara creates less of a mess than water-resistant mascara if you accidentally rub your eyes!

Recommended Smudgeproof Mascara:

NYX Cosmetics Long & Full Lash Waterproof Smudge Proof Mascara

Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara

Waterproof or smudgeproof mascaras
can be hard to remove with a water-based makeup remover. When removing such mascara, use an oil-based makeup remover for the eyes. Most oil-based makeup removers are now formulated to be gentle on the eyes and lips while removing all traces of eye makeup.

Reviews on makeup removers:

Biore Makeup Remover For Eye & Lip

Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil

Silkygirl Hydra Clean Makeup Remover


Waterproof or Water-resistant mascara

– Resistant to water and tears
– Recommended for swimming

Smudgeproof or Sweat-proof mascara

– Resistant to oil and sweat
– Recommended for people living in hot and humid environments

So it really doesn’t matter if your mascara is from a drugstore brand (Maybelline, L’Oreal, Rimmel) or from a high-end one (Anna Sui, Lancome, Dior). Just remember to use the right type of mascara! =)

What is your favorite smudgeproof or waterproof mascara?


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About Bun Bun

Hello! My name is Juli and Bun Bun is my alter-ego. I blog to share my love for makeup, how to apply it, and what works or what doesn’t work, all from an Asian perspective.

My first makeup product was a shimmery light blue lipstick which I proudly wore all over my eyelids and lips. It cost $2.50, felt like $250, and made me feel like a million bucks.

  • priscilla

    great post! i’ve always wondered where the diff lies.. thx for the info :)

    • Bun Bun

      You’re welcome, Pris!

  • Jessica

    This was SO helpful! I’m not Asian (I’m Native American, and living the the humid south), but I have monolids and thought *that* was they my mascara was always smudging around my eyes, even the water proof kind. I’m off to buy some smudge proof mascara now!

    • Bun Bun

      Hi Jessica! Yea smudgeproof mascara is THE BEST kind of mascara for people living in humid environments (like you and me). All hail smudgeproof!

  • Meiying

    Ooooh. This was helpful. I never knew there was a difference between the two. I always expected my waterproof mascaras to be smudgeproof as well.

    But with waterproof mascaras do they hold the curl better than the smudgeproof mascaras? I have medium length lashes, but they are very straight. I have to curl them always with my Shu eyelash curler or else no brand of mascara will make a difference. Throughout the years, I’ve found that waterproof mascaras hold my curl much better than normal mascaras. I’m wondering if smudgeproof mascaras can hold a curl as well.

    • Bun Bun

      Honestly, I haven’t found any difference between smudgeproof and waterproof mascaras with regards to holding a curl. My lashes also point straight out and have to be curled with the Shu Uemura eyelash curler too.

      My guess is that waterproof mascaras are a little more drying that’s why they tend to keep the curl longer?

  • Joyce

    Hi Bunbun!

    OT a little bit.. Any recommendation on smudgeproof eyeliner pencils?

    • Bun Bun

      Hi Joyce! =)

      Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner pencils work well for many people. Prestige eyeliners are pretty good, much cheaper too. That said, if you have oily lids like I do, there wont be a pencil that will give you 100% smudgeproof results. There will still be slight smudging, but these pencils I recommended do a better job than most others.

  • Mavis

    Hi Bun Bun,

    Thanks for differentiating! I’m on oily type. Though i know i need smudge proof items, but when wander at the drug store, my eyes would still after the “waterproof” word because it is more easily to search on the label rather than non function!

    Will take note & mention to the promoter that only “smudge proof” items next round!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Bun Bun

      Hi Mavis! Welcome to my blog. :)

      Thing is, not many promoters even know the difference. So they simply say that they’re the same if you ask specifically for smudgeproof mascara. And it’s true they usually label mascaras ‘waterproof’ more than ‘smudgeproof’. One good way to reduce mascara smudging is to use an eyelash primer.

      • Mavis

        Hi Bun Bun,

        What brand of eyelash primer would you recommend? I currently using “Majolica Majorca”, no so much difference with/ without it…


        • Bun Bun

          Shiseido Nourishing Mascara Base is one I really liked. Currently, I’m loving the Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum. =)

  • briarelfglitter62

    Hi Bun Bun, a truly informative post!! I didn’t know that there was a difference haha, but now I do, thanks to you :) Do you have any recommendations for drugstore brands of smudgeproof mascaras?

    • BunBunMakeupTips

      @briarelfglitter62 Hello! Thanks for reading! I’m glad you found it interesting. =)
      Hmmm…. I think Maybelline and Loreal do produce decent mascaras. Do you have access to Asian cosmetics brands, wherever you’re from? My friend likes the Heroine Make ones but I tried one and I was like ER, NO, ME NO LIKEY. Haha. It’s up to individual, I guess.

    • BunBunMakeupTips

      @briarelfglitter62 Oh! I just recalled. I liked Canmake’s Gakubuto or something.

  • liisa

    Very helpful post! I guess I need a smudge-proof one because my mascara always smudges, whether it be water-proof or regular. Do you have any idea which ingredients make mascaras smudge-proof? Beauty stores in my country don’t carry NYX or Bobbi Brown so I need to look for the right ingredients. Or maybe you know any other mascaras that are smudge-proof? You mentioned Maybelline and L’Oreal in the comments, I have access to both of these brands. Do you know which mascaras exactly they have that are smudge-proof?