Long, voluminous eyelashes are the ultimate finishing touch to most makeup looks. Think of it as the cherry on top of your metaphorical makeup sundae—it adds a little “pop” that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And while lash extensions and falsies are great and all (seriously—they're great), you can still pull off epic eyelashes without the cost of extensions or the hassle of strip lashes. Ahead, celebrity makeup artists share their best tips for how to put on mascara (the right way) for voluminous, fluttering eyelashes.
Use a Lash Curler
First things first: a great lash curler. Ones with a rounded rubber base are great for subtly swooping your lashes up rather then bending or breaking them at a sharp angle.
“I can’t stress how big of a difference curling the lashes make,” says celebrity makeup artist Molly Greenwald. “And I can’t believe how many people skip this five-second, game-changing step.”
It can be tricky to find one that fits your eye shape, so if you’re having trouble, fellow makeup artist Megan Garmers suggests getting a small, “individual” curler that—as the name suggests—will curl your individual lashes. While it may sound tedious, it’s not all that time-consuming if you can find the right one—and the brand Preo/Prima has great ones guaranteed to give you otherworldly volume and lift.
Prime It Up
A great lash primer will “beef up the width” of your lashes, according to Garmers. It’s an extra product you’ll need—but it makes a major difference in terms of length and durability too, so invest in a good one you can use prior to applying your mascara, like some of our favorites here.
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“Mascara doesn’t need to be expensive to be good,” says Garmers. “L’Oreral, Covergirl, and Maybelline all make great formulas you can buy at the drugstore.” Garmers also suggests stopping by a beauty shop like Sephora or Ulta to get some minis before you can commit to a full-sized tube. “The great thing about this is that your chances of keeping the mascara ‘too long’ are significantly lowered since you’ll likely run out by the time it expires,” she says.
Do not pump your mascara brush up and down into the tube. You may think you’re getting more formula on the spoolie, but in reality, you’re just drying it out by forcing air in.
Start With the Roots
When it comes to application, there’s no “right” way to do it—it all just depends on the type of lashes you naturally have (as in, the makeup-free length and volume you’re currently dealing with).
“Personally, I start at the roots and lightly wiggle the brush back and forth to saturate the lash line,” says Greenwald. “If you have fair lashes like me, make sure you comb out the product to the tips and coat the backside of the lash.”
Apply the Rest Strategically
If you have thin lashes, Garmers agrees that wiggling is a great way to make them appear thicker. She also suggests blinking if your lashes are already naturally thick, and if you have short lashes you want to seriously lengthen, swiping up in brush strokes is usually the move.
“I really work the shape and direction for the eyelashes when applying,” says Greenwald. “I like to comb the lashes into a full fan instead of brushing them all in one direction towards the temple.” Only applying your mascara in one direction will make them look, well, one-dimensional, and may even make your eyes appear narrower. So fan them out and make sure to coat your inner, middle, and outer lashes.
For your lower lashes, focus less on the roots and lash lines and more on the length and tips (or outer edges). A smaller wand or spoolie brush might be easier for you to maneuver on your bottom lashes as well.
According to many experts, doubling up mascaras is a great way to seriously amplify your lashes. If your natural lashes are stubby and thin, you can use both a lengthening formula and a separate one for volume.
If you have only one mascara in your repertoire, just keep layering on coats until you’re satisfied. And don’t worry about clumping or excess formula yet—we’ll address that in the next step.
Remove Any Excess
Between each coat—or simply at the end of your lash routine—take a clean mascara wand (you might have some disposable ones laying around) or a metal lash comb to flick through your lashes and remove any excess mascara. Clumps on top of clumps are no bueno—especially on your lower lashes—and this step will ensure your flutters look clean, separated, and defined.
Use a Waterproof Formula to “Seal It In”
It’s easy to feel hesitant about waterproof mascara (yes, it is possible to take it all cleanly off at the end of the day with a great makeup remover—we promise!) and Garmers insists it’s the best way to make sure your mascara is “sealed on” at the end of your lash routine. If you aren’t already utilizing a waterproof formula, consider using one as the last step here—you know, just in case you get splashed with AC unit water or a surprise rain shower on your daily commute. It’s worth it.