If we had to do our makeup in five minutes or less (eek!), we’d start with our complexion (obvs), then work our brows (duh), and finish with mascara. It’s the ultimate final touch to any makeup look – it brings your eyes to life, making them look lifted, larger, and sexier.
The key is to know exactly how to apply mascara, as there are so many areas for mishaps: clumps, flaking, spider lashes, or the dreaded raccoon eyes. Don’t worry, this will not be you, as long as you follow our ultimate mascara guide!
Find the Right Wand for Your Lashes
When it comes to beauty, there’s no one-size-fits-all. You need to customize your routine to cater to your needs. While a lot of people apply this to their skincare routine, you also need to tailor your makeup routine to complement your facial structure. In the case of mascara, finding the right wand for your lashes is a total game-changer and it’ll maximize the results like crazy! For example, if you have short lashes and you use a large wand, you won’t be unable to reach, separate, and coat every lash. Plus, the chances you’ll end up with mascara all over your lids are high. If you have sparse lashes, an hourglass brush will build length, thickness, and volume, leaving you with sexy, wispy lashes. Here’s a quick breakdown of the right wand for your lash type:
Straight lashes: A waterproof plastic brush like the Maybelline Lash Sensational, $10, will help your lashes create and hold a curl. Plus, the plastic bristles will be able to separate and comb through each lash for maximum impact.
Short lashes: A long, thin brush will allow you to reach from root to tip without any mishaps for longer, thicker lashes. We’re obsessed with Benefit BADGal BANG Voluminizing Mascara, $25, it’s a cult-classic for a reason.
Sparse lashes: An hourglass wand with dense feathered bristles will take your lashes from sparse to sexy in just a few strokes. The curved shape allows the bristles to reach the base to thicken each lash. We love the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, $25, although it does flake a little, so make sure you bake your under eyes to avoid smudging.
Curly lashes: To enhance the curl, find a large fluffy brush like the Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara, $25, it will hug each lash and add volume and length.
Thin Lashes: A rounded brush like the Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara, $10, is ideal as it’ll thicken and add depth to thin lashes. Another way to thicken thin lashes is to dust them with a translucent powder in between mascara coats. It’s a little messy but it works.
How to Apply Mascara Like a Pro
Before you apply mascara, we highly recommend curling your lashes for at least 10 seconds. It’s the MUA cardinal rule for fluttery, sexy lashes as it helps to lift and visually add length to your lashes. Celeb MUA and makeup God, Patrick Ta agrees. He told Elle, “Curling your eyelashes is a non-negotiable step for me.” Patrick’s fave lash curler is the Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler, $21, “because it has the perfect curve even on the roundest of eyes.” For more makeup tips from Patrick Ta, read this.
Okay, now for the main event: application. You’d think applying mascara was pretty self-explanatory, but there are so many ways you can go wrong. J.Lo’s MUA Scott Barnes told us, “I don’t think people realize how much mascara can actually transform your overall look, but I see a lot of problems with how people are applying it. It’s best to get down to the root of the lashes and almost scrub the mascara wand back and forth at the root so that you’re creating a more distinct line in that area before you move to the top of the lashes. Don’t be scared or timid, get assertive at the root so you can create a rich look.” This zig-zag movement from top to bottom will help you to coat each and every lash and distribute more formula at the base, which helps avoid a clumpy look or lumps at the end of your lashes, where they should look more whispy.
Once you’ve coated your lashes, for a thickening effect and added volume, look down and coat your lashes once more. If you want to add a curl, it’s also helpful to roll the brush as you move it through your lashes. When you try this technique for the first time, it could be a little messy so have some micellar water and a Q-tip to hand.
How Not to Apply Mascara
Rule number one: Avoid applying layers of mascara when your mascara is already dry. If your mascara has already set, you won’t be able to blend the new layer of mascara with your lashes and you run the risk of clumpy lashes with chunks at the end. So, always build layers of volume when your mascara is wet to avoid clumping.
Rule number two: Whatever you do, don’t pump the wand continuously if you want to get more product – this just pushes air into the tube and will cause your mascara to dry out more quickly. Instead, gently twist the wand in a circular motion to pick up formula that builds up around the sides of the bottle. Finally, always wipe off excess formula from the brush to avoid smudging and clumping.
The Best Mascara Hack for Longer Lashes
If you’re looking to amp up your mascara game, you need to try this mascara hack that delivers the most insane levels of volume, length, and depth. The trick is to simply layer your mascara by using two different types of wand. There are hundreds of different wands available; natural bristles, rubber bristles, wands that are curved, straight, thick, and thin, all of which provide a different effect. By combining two different brush shapes, you’ll get the best of both worlds. You can also pick two brushes to customize the effect to suit your lashes.
For instance, if you have short, fine lashes, and you want to add volume and length, you can layer a thickening mascara like the L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Volume Building Mascara, $9, with a lengthening wand like the Maybelline Lash Sensational, $10.
5 Mascaras That Deliver Real Results
L’Oreal Lash Paradise, $10: Hands down, this is one of our fave mascaras of all time. It delivers next level volume, length, thickness… Literally everything! We’ve been asked so many times if we’re wearing false lashes while using this mascara – it’s that good! Beyoncé’s makeup artist Sir John says he relies on it daily to keep his celebrity clients’ lashes on point.
Lancome Hypnose Mascara Instant Full Body Volume, $28: This mascara is an oldie but a goodie. The formula is enriched with vitamin B5 to thicken your lashes without clumping them together.
Benefit BADgal BANG! Volumizing Mascara, $25: The brush is slightly wider at the base, so you can reach the inner corners of your lashes, which makes application super easy and drama-free.
Dior DiorShow Mascara, $30: If you have the dollars to splurge, this mascara is the ultimate luxe beauty purchase. The signature brush is thick and fine, enriched with microfibers and silk proteins to create a false lash effect.
Maybelline Lash Sensational, $10: If Meghan Markle uses a drugstore mascara, you know it’s the bomb. For just $10, this mascara will deliver the most stunning volume and curl. Plus, it’s easily buildable so it can take you from day-to-night.
For more makeup tips, check out our how to apply blush.