I wasn't born with "great" lashes. I do have big brown eyes (that definitely helps call attention to things), but my lashes are naturally pretty average. I've tried false lashes, but I don't have time for that every day, and I want that big eye and tons of lashes look every day. So, I've collected a huge number of mascara tips to help me achieve this look!
There really isn't a "best mascara" for great lashes. Instead, there are a bunch of mascaras that produce long and lush eye lashes, but when combined with great mascara application tips... yes, then you get the results that have people asking you for which mascara you are wearing over avocados.
1. I should start off by saying that you don't actually need 1 formula. You need two. Two good mascaras. Unless I'm doing product testing, I always layer two mascaras. If you have short lashes, you could use a lengthening or even fiber mascara. If you have thin lashes, go for volume. Combine a volume and a lengthening mascara. (I just don't recommend using a "tube" mascara when layering.) Something seems to happen when you use 2 mascaras together, and I swear the results are much better, they synergize.
2. Consider the brush! This makes as much of an impact on your mascara as the mascara formula. A typical nylon brush can lead to clumping. If the bristles are particularly close it can be almost impossible to get product on to the lashes. I like to make sure that at least one of my mascaras has a molded plastic brush, which helps me to pull my lashes apart easily. I use that as my top mascara. My preferred mascara for this is CoverGirl's LashBlast Fusion.
3. Pick the correct shade. A lot of people say you should wear brown for every day, and black for "good". This is stupid to me, mostly because I have black lashes. When I wear brown, it looks strange. It's obvious. If you have black lashes (like me) you should only wear black. Maybe black-brown if it is a very dark formula. If you have blond lashes, you should wear brown. Black will look harsh, save it for special occasions or a smoky eye. All of those other "fun" shades, like plum, navy, etc? They are fun but can be hard to pull off correctly, use at your own risk. I don't use them every day and I don't think they really have a place in the workplace unless they're almost black/brown and very subtle.
4. Need a waterproof formula? There are some great ones out there, but keep in mind that they are often hard to remove. Consider using a waterproofing topcoat such as Anastasia's Lash Genius, which waterproofs but is much easier to get off before bed.
5. If you are wearing mascara, you definitely need to use a curler. The 30 seconds you take to curl your lashes will be well worth the effort. There are a ton of curlers on the market, and you don't need to spend a lot. Look for one that has a hard pad, if it is too soft instead of curling the lash you'll get a bend. A bend is bad. Look for hard. There are also some brands that sell replacement pads, make sure you buy one of those. Or you'll have to keep replacing the entire thing. I use a Tweezerman curler, in case you're curious.
6. Heat: Yes, you can heat up your curler. I recommend only doing this if you have a really hard time getting your lashes to curl, or if the curl goes away quickly despite using a curling mascara. Just a quick burst of "hot" from your blow dryer is all you need. Seriously, no one wants burns on their lids.
7. More about heat: All of those "amazing heating lash curlers"? Yeah, none of them work. Either they aren't hot enough, they are way too hot, or they don't even curl. I've tried pretty much every one possible, I gave up about a year ago. Waste of money. If you know of one that works, let me know! (Oh, and that nonsense about applying your mascara against a spoon? Have you heard this? It does not work.)
8. When curling your lashes, the goal is to have them curl gently upwards, basically making a pretty fringe. You do not want a bend in your lash, and they shouldn't be sticking up as close to your lid as possible. (To the girl that works at VS at the mall down the street- stop doing this. I can't look at you. It looks crazy, not like you have amazing lashes. Go see Amanda at Sephora, she can help you. Until then, I'm buying my unmentionables on-line.)
9. Everyone curls a little differently, and you'll need to experiment with what works best for you. I like to curl as close to the base of my lashes as I can (without it hurting), and I kind of pulse the curler really tight about 5 times, then switch the other side. If I need to, I might repeat this again as close to the base as possible. Then I'll repeat (yes, again) about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way out the lashes. That's it. I don't keep walking it out, you could seriously do this for forever.
10. While I've tried the next curling trick, I've had varied results. I know girls that swear by it. When curling near the base, pull out your hands and tip the curler a bit. You can see I'm trying to take a pic of this above, but for some reason I kept trying to peer at the camera. You get the idea. Don't do this too close to the base, it will hurt and might pull out lashes!
11. What is lining doing here?? A little liner worked into the lash base can go a loooong way towards making your lashes look full. Really. Some will go to the lengths of tightlining. I think it depends on the person, but for me, this isn't really necessary. Instead 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 do 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.
12. You should line your eyes after you curl your lashes. Why? The curler can smudge your hard work. Enough said.
13. Remember back when I was talking about choosing the color of your mascara, and I have pretty definitive ideas? Here's where fun with color comes in. I'd use only brown or black to do the tightlining, deep in your lash roots, but feel free to use any color you want over that or on your lower lid.
14. Now that you finally can open up that mascara wand and apply it, you'll need to actually pause for a second and look at the wand. Do you see a big wad of product somewhere? Is there so much glopped onto the wand that you can't even see the bristles in a few locations? Grab a kleenex and wipe off the wand before you use it. This will make a huge difference, think Tammy Faye vs. lashes worthy of Pinterest.
15. When you are finally ready to get the wand up to your eyes, you'll need to get it as close to the lash base as possible. Once there, slowly pull it up and wiggle a little back and forth to apply product onto your lashes. Keep going. And going.
16. Once I've applied a lot of my first mascara, I reach for my second right away. I don't wait for things to dry off in between, I just go right for it. Layer it on.
18. If you have blonde lashes, it is especially important to make sure your entire lash is covered. I know someone who doesn't start her mascara until about halfway down the lash, it looks strange. If you forget the top of the lash as well, it can look odd. I would apply the mascara to the top of the lashes first and then apply as usual, but try to ensure that every bit of lash is covered.
19. If you are using a fiber mascara (like Fiberwig) you'll need to apply the fiber mascara first. You'll need to apply it correctly as well. 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.
20. Somehow, this is a bit of a controversial topic. Many think you should never put mascara on the lower lashes because when it smudges (which it does if you rub your eyes, pretty much no matter what formula you used), it will settle into any wrinkles, make you look tired, etc. But, putting a little mascara on those lashes really can make your eye makeup look much more complete. The key with mascara here is concentrating on the base of the lashes. I like to keep all of the mascara there, maybe about 2-3 mm out from the base, I'll actually wipe off mascara that gets on the ends of these lashes. Since it is the end of the lashes that cause most of the issues (and mostly look spidery), this works great.
21. The easiest way to apply mascara to your lower lashes: I'll put my mascara wand at the base of my lashes, just barely wiggle it back and forth, and that's it. If I can't do it for some reason, grabbing a lip brush, taking a bit of mascara of of the wand, and then using that brush seems to work better.
22. This isn't likely something you've thought about much, but it is really important to remove all of that carefully applied eye makeup each night. Not only does it build up (and make you look old with the residue), but it can clog pores. You don't want that in your eye lashes, a Chalazion is rather painful!
23. I have the best results with an oil based remover like Lancome's BiFacil or Boots Expert Sensitive Gentle Eye Make Up Removal Lotion (which is pictured above, but the label always seems to peel off). I also love "Take it Off" by Hard Candy.
24. A few years ago there was actually a thread on Makeup Alley about my lashes (one girl said she didn't trust my mascara reviews because my lashes "aren't that great", I would that that's someone who knows more about mascara than a girl with super long lashes already??) The truth is, even back then I was getting eye lash comments. I just get more questions about them now. Why? Because I use an eye lash conditioner and they are definitely longer and thicker.
I use an eye lash conditioner called Revitalash, which I originally got for review and have repurchased faithfully every 6 months since that time. Which means I've bought it... 3 times? I think? At $120 a pop, that's quite the investment! It's available over the counter, and it does contain a prostaglandin analogue, which is similar to the active ingredient in Latisse but isn't the same. It is currently (as I type this, anyways) unavailable in the US due to a lawsuit by the makers of Latisse. They want Revitalash to be prescription also, so Revitalash has pulled itself from the market while that gets sorted out. Which means I need to find something else to use pronto! I'm thinking about trying out LiLash, but let me know if you have a product you like!
If you do want to go the Latisse route, make sure you do so only with a physician's assistance and do NOT buy it online. Much of the Latisse available is through sketchy sites and isn't real. Fake Latisse likely means lashes that don't grow!
25. Getting ready to head out, and your lashes just... wilted? I definitely know the feeling! The best way to refresh them is to use a spooly brush (I found a few sample sized ones pretty cheap at a beauty supply, I'm sure you could get them off eBay), dip the spooly into either eye makeup remover or water, depending on which works best for you (I'm a water girl), and run the brush through your lashes. It will help to "reset" your current mascara! I also like to grab a mascara with plastic bristles (my favorite LashBlast Fusion works great for this), and apply a little extra mascara on top. Good as new!
Do you have any eye lash tips that I've missed here? Let me know!