We’ve all been there: You’re trying to wiggle some mascara onto your inner lash corners and accidentally nick your nose with the wand. Or you coat some pigment onto your bottom wisps, only to wind up with a dust of fallout under your eyes. Your immaculate work has now become a Jackson Pollock, with flecks of mascara splattered across your face.
Now, you could reach for makeup remover to dissolve any stray product, but there’s actually a much more efficient way to clean up those messy bits. Celebrity makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes recently shared a fail-safe hack over on TikTok, and we grabbed the details for you below.
A hack to clean up smudged mascara.
All you need is a clean, dry spoolie: “Just delicately buff at that area until it is gone,” Hughes says in the video. The dry spoolie should pick up the pigment and buff away any mascara flecks. If you don’t have a spoolie, you could also use a small, stiff makeup brush (like an angled eyebrow brush, for example). Just make sure the brush is, duh, completely clean—you don’t want to add any more pigment here.
Basically, the fibers should be able to lift the stray flecks of mascara without compromising any of your makeup (whereas a cotton swab dipped in remover can lift concealer and shadow with each swipe). Comments Hughes, a cotton swab “will just rub in the product, especially if you need to use makeup remover, you’re going to ruin all of the makeup you did.”
Another important caveat to mention here: Make sure the mascara has fully dried down before you try to whisk the pigment away. If you’re dealing with wet product, you’ll only smudge it further with the spoolie. Also, Hughes emphasizes a gentle pressure (“Delicately buff,” she says), as you don’t want to pull or tug at the sensitive eye area—or, uh, stab your skin with the dry spoolie. Ouch.
If you have any mascara mistakes on the upper eyelids (where the skin is even more thin), Hughes recommends an even gentler hold on the spoolie. Of course, you should stop if it ever becomes painful, but if “you’re super delicate and the spoolie is soft,” you should be fine, she says in another comment.
Smudged mascara—we’ve all been there. Rather than using makeup remover to wipe away the errors, Hughes says a dry spoolie is all you need to buff away unwanted pigment. Just wait for it to dry (perhaps move on to your brows or lips in the meantime), and whisk away.