Ask an MUA: How to Clean False Eyelashes

Makeup artist Megan Garmers weighs in.

woman wearing fake eyelashes



False eyelashes are amazing, and can change your entire look in a snap. They're low-commitment (compared to pricey growth serums and lash extensions), providing more flexibility, experimentation, and cost-efficiency than the alternatives.

With that being said, false eyelashes do require *some* effort. As with anything that's going on or around your eye area, you want to make sure your lashes are clean before each re-application. That’s why we've tapped makeup artist and founder of MG Hair and Makeup Megan Garmers to walk us through the proper logistics of cleaning false eyelashes so you can get the most bang for your buck. Ahead, our step-by-step guide to cleaning your false eyelashes.

Let's Get Started

“Reusing your lashes is a great way to save money when you’re doing your own makeup,” Garmers says. That said, she advises against ever reusing other peoples’ lashes—even after cleaning, you should never share yours with anyone to avoid easily spreading eye infections. (Also, makeup artists should *always* be using a new strip on each client.)

Checklist of items you’ll need:

  • Cotton swabs
  • Warm water
  • Paper towels
  • Oil-free makeup remover
  • Rubbing alcohol (70%) 
01 of 07

Wash Your Hands

That’s it... That’s the step. But seriously, there's no point in even cleaning your lashes if you're just going to contaminate them with germs from your hands.

02 of 07

Determine What Kind of Lashes They Are

Synthetic or natural? You’ll need to figure out what kind of lashes you’re working with—depending on the type, you’ll need to clean and sanitize them differently. Helpful hint: Most on the market are synthetic

03 of 07

Remove Any Leftover Glue

Whatever leftover adhesive remains on the lash strip needs to go. Use tweezers to gently pinch the glue globs (sorry, that’s the best way to describe it!) and pull it off. 

04 of 07

Cleanse With an Oil-Free Makeup Remover

neutrogena eye makeup remover product photo
Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover $9.00

Skip this step if your lashes are made from natural (like mink)—makeup remover will cause them to lose their shape and shine, says Garmers, and you also shouldn’t be putting mascara on them to begin with (unless you really feel the need to, in which case you should be careful to only apply a scant amount of mascara on your actual lashes before applying your falsies). 

In any case, if your false lashes are synthetic, lay them on a piece of paper towel. Make sure your makeup remover is oil-free, put some on a cotton swab, and gently start to remove any leftover mascara or eyeshadow from the lashes and the base of the strip. (Pro tip: Be sure to stroke your Q-tips all in the same direction to help preserve the lashes.)

05 of 07

Get Your Lashes a *Little* Wet

Key words: A little. You’re not dunking them under the faucet—instead, take one of your cotton swabs, soak it in warm water, and gently cleanse your lashes to remove any makeup remover remnants. (You can also do this step if you’re working with mink lashes—just make sure to use an even smaller amount of water to avoid damaging them.) 

06 of 07

Sanitize With 70 Percent Rubbing Alcohol

You’ll need rubbing alcohol for this step (Garmers suggests formulas that are 70 percent alcohol specifically, as anything higher than that “won’t have time to kill the bacteria before it evaporates”). Take your cotton swabs again, soak them in rubbing alcohol this time and gently stroke your lashes once more to sanitize them. Oh, and don’t keep dipping the same cotton swab in the alcohol—get a fresh end to use each time for extra cleanliness. Pay especially close attention to the "strip" of the lash, making sure it is fully sanitized since this is the part that makes direct contact with your eyes.

07 of 07

Air Dry

Don’t squeeze them or pat them dry. Instead, give yourself enough time to air dry them—and they’ll be good to go for your next night out. Also, the best place to store them is the box they came in—once they’re dry, place them back in their original semi-circle position to help keep their shape for the next time you wear them. 

Related Stories