My eyelashes aren’t anything extraordinary, but over the years I’ve learned enough mascara tricks for amazing lashes that I routinely get asked what mascara I’m wearing by strangers.
As much as the runways may be talking about “natural” lashes, spring’s obsession with mascara fan brushes leaves most of us still wanting as much lash as possible. Anyone can have amazing eyelashes, and you don’t need to use falsies to get the volume you dream of. Here are my best mascara tricks:
1. Layer Your Mascaras
This is a trick that I’ve only known about for a few years now, but it seems so obvious, and I wish I had known sooner. I’m sharing it with everyone now!
Layering your mascaras and using different formula types can give you the best of both worlds, namely length and volume. Something seems to happen when you use 2 mascaras together, and I swear the results are much better; they seem to multiply rather than being additive.
2. Pick the Right Color
Look at your own natural lash color and pick your everyday shade based off of this. You should have a mascara that is the same color or a bit darker. Going too far from your own color can look very harsh, so play with different colors and be honest with yourself about what works.
My lashes are almost black, so I wear mostly black mascara with occasional uses of a black-brown (mostly because I grabbed the wrong tube at the store.) Brown mascara is lighter than my lashes and it looks strange on me. Many with blond lashes have a hard time wearing black mascara because the result is very harsh. Try brown or black-brown instead.
3. Buy a Specialized Curler
Do you have problems getting all of your lashes to curl? Maybe your eye is a bit too long for most curlers or you want that little extra flip up at the outer corner and it just isn’t working? Buy a smaller, shorter curler like the Japonesque Precision Curler. It will let you get the extra curl you want and you can move it along your lashes to ensure you’re getting every last lash.
Japonesque Precision Eyelash Curler, $10.50
4. Be Picky About Brushes
It used to be that almost every mascara had the same brush — a simple brush with nylon bristles. It was rare to find variation in bristle shape, length, or consistency. Now you can have nylon or molded plastic, and brushes come in so many shapes that it is hard to find two mascara wands that are alike. Each shape does something different, but here are a few of my favorites!
Try (from left to right):
L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly, $8.99
CoverGirl Flamed Out Mascara, $7.99
5. Breaking the Rules
If you want to try a “fun” shade instead of the traditional brown to black range, go for plum. It’s usually so dark that it comes across as a rich, dark color and is not so obviously different. Other colors are fun, but can be hard to pull off correctly, so use at your own risk for the everyday — these products are are better suited for a night out than for a big day at work. There is a wide range of fun colors out right now, so try using one just on the tops of your lashes or the very tips for fun.
Butter London Wink Mascara in Jaded Jack, $18
CK One Color Mascara in Trip, $18
Yves Saint Laurent ‘Volume Effet Faux Cils’ Mascara in Plum, $30
6. Curler Tipping
This tip might sound a bit like cow tipping (which doesn’t work, by the way), but really it’s another way of getting a great curl in your lash. When curling near the base, pull out your hands and tip the curler a bit. It takes a bit of getting used to, but this extra bit of bend can result in the perfect gentle curve that lasts all day.
7. Longer Lasting Curl
Not everyone’s lashes want to curl easily. It seems that many lashes are stubborn and just want to stay stick straight! And with all of the lash serums out there now, many of which result in hard-to-curl lashes, keeping a nice curve all day is getting harder and harder.
You can try a heated lash curler, though most are hard to use — with uneven heating it can be easy to burn your eyelid. Ouch! Instead, just hit your curler is a 2 to 3 second burst of heat from your blow dryer. Your curler should be warm but not hot. It will help set your lash curl, but you won’t be in danger of bodily harm.
Sam Villa Light Ionic Hair Dryer, $199.95
8. Don’t Skip Eye Liner
A little liner worked into the lash base can go a long way towards making your lashes look full. Really. Tightlining can make a big difference, though it takes a bit of practice. I use my liner really jammed into my lash line, and I wiggle the pencil/brush (if I’m using gel) in-between the lashes. I don’t typically tightline if using a liquid, since I can’t get the pen down in-between the lashes. However you do it, you want to fill in the spots between each individual eye lash. This will make your lashes look much thicker.
9. Start at the Base
When applying mascara, it can be really hard to get close to the base of your lashes. However, for thick and amazing lashes, you really need to be as close as you possibly can to the root with your mascara. Get as close as possible to the base, and if you need to just use the tip of your mascara wand, then do that. Once there, slowly pull it up and wiggle a little back and forth to apply product onto your lashes. Keep going. And going.
10. Coat the Whole Lash
Most people just apply mascara to the bottom of their lashes, but try applying it to the top (lid side) of your lashes as well! You’ll get a full coating of product around each lash, which is especially important if you have blonde lashes.
11. Keep a Lash Comb Handy
If you get clumps, a lash comb is very helpful. I’ve found that the best are metal, though it can be hard to find one that doesn’t have the bristles too close together. Julia Roberts apparently skips the brush and just uses a safety pin to pull her lashes apart … although this sounds a little dicey.
12. Pick a Fiber Mascara
Fiber Mascaras can add extra volume and length unparalleled to other mascara, but they are tricky to use. If you are using a fiber mascara and layering mascara, you’ll need to apply the fiber mascara first. Just go and read the post at Clumps of Mascara about how to apply fiber mascara. Trust me, your lashes will thank you for it.
13. To Bottom Lash or Not to Bottom Lash
That really is the question! Applying liner and mascara to the bottom lash line really can complete a look, but if there is any smudging or flaking you can look much older and tired by mid-day. The key with mascara here is concentrating on the base of the lashes, not the ends.
To apply, I put my mascara wand at the base of my lashes, just barely wiggle it back and forth, and that’s it. You can also apply using a lip brush by taking a bit of mascara of of the wand and painting the mascara onto the base of your lashes.