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How to Apply Mascara

[See the rest of our How to Apply Makeup series for beginners.]

Although mascara is an essential item for any make-up bag, it tends to be the most widely misused product. Since mascara is the most essential makeup product for drawing attention to the eyes, it is important to correctly apply it. By following these simple rules on how to apply mascara properly, you can avoid some of the most common eye makeup disasters.

Step 1: Curl your lashes first! If you are lucky enough to have lashes that curl naturally, you’re good to go. But if you are going to curl them, be sure to curl them before you apply mascara. By curling after you apply mascara, your eyelashes may stick to the curler and get yanked out. Not only is this painful, but lashes rarely regenerate. Translation: thinning lashes. Curling your lashes after you’ve applied mascara also causes the lashes to get smashed and stuck together. They’re practically impossible to separate after being clamped down by the eyelash curler and you’ll most likely have to start over.

Step 2: Choose your shade. Choose a mascara color that is no deeper than two or three shades darker than the natural color of your eyebrows.

Day 24. I look like a 17 year old girl...
Creative Commons License photo credit: kirikiri

Step 3: Apply the mascara in thin, light layers. If you want to finally figure out how to apply mascara without clumping, here’s your chance: Instead of gooping it on in one or two thick layers, build up the product a little at a time. Pull slowly and allow the mascara’s inner mechanics to do the work. Don’t sweep the mascara across your lashes in a side to side motion. If you want, you can gently wiggle the mascara brush at the lash base to increase coverage and lash thickness near your lash line. But once you move the brush past your lash line, follow the growth of the lash and brush upwards. This will give lashes a fuller, more natural look without leaving clumps at the tips of your lashes.

Step 4: Apply mascara to lower lashes if you choose (some makeup looks don’t require this, and some people prefer not to). But if you do like the look, learning how to apply mascara to bottom lashes is a snap. The key is to be delicate. Take the mascara wand and start at the root of the lash and (like you did with your upper lashes) lightly pull the brush downward, along the natural growth direction of the lash. With your bottom lashes, you want to be careful not to apply too much mascara since too much product will result in dark smudges or flaking beneath your lower lashes. You don’t need to apply multiple layers like you do on your upper lashes. Just use a little to help give a bit of definition to your eye – one or two coats is plenty.

Here are a couple additional general mascara tips:

Never rapidly overdip the wand in an attempt to remove the excess mascara. This causes a drying effect and greatly reduces the life of your mascara.

Replace your mascara on a regular basis. Don’t use a tube of mascara longer than about 2 months. You should regularly replace all makeup products from time to time to eliminate your risk of bacteria getting on your skin or in your eyes.


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