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Do you struggle to find the perfect mascara? Have you tried just about every one out there only to be left with a drawer full of mascara flops? I’m going to tell you how to find the perfect mascara for your needs. You’ll also pick up tips to get your lashes looking their best.
There are two kinds of people in this world – those who are blessed with long, thick, curled lashes and the rest of us. Out of the rest of
See which group you fall into.
- Thin, sparse lashes with okay length
- Thick, short lashes
- Long, straight lashes
- Thin, short lashes
- Long, full, straight lashes
Mascara keywords to look for.
- A. Thickening, Fullness, Volume, Plumping
- B. Lengthening, Length building, Longer
- C. Curling, Lifting,
- D. Fibers, Extensions, Tubes
- E. Defining, Enhancing
Group 1 – A,C,E
Your lashes are fine or thin but the overall length is okay. You could benefit from any type of mascara from groups A, C or E. Look for formulas that add volume. Most times volumizing formulas are slightly drier than lengthening ones but that doesn’t mean it should be clumpy. Sometimes you may need to apply two coats to achieve a desired look so if you put one coat on and aren’t happy, try a second.
If you’re not concerned about adding volume or fullness you can try a mascara that is geared towards holding a curl. I recommend curling your lashes with an eyelash curler then applying a curl-holding mascara right away for best results. As a matter of fact, I think everyone can benefit from curling their lashes. Curling produces an eye-opening effect. It can make small eyes appear bigger and deep-set eyes more prominent. If you’re not worried about adding volume or curl or are in a hurry you can use any basic mascara. Don’t expect anything earth-shattering from a defining formula but it will give you color and definition.
Group 2 – B, C, D
Your lashes may be thick but they are short and they may or may not have
It is important to find a lengthening mascara that holds a curl. Sometimes this can be a challenge but you’ll find my recs below. A fiber mascara is one that has tiny little fibers in the actual formula. They stick to your lashes and build them out in length. Tubes work in a similar way. They coat your lashes and build out lengthwise. The only pitfall with some fiber mascaras is flecking. Small flecks can fall off onto your skin. In most
group 3 – A, C, E
Your lashes are long (lucky you) not overly thick or fine but are stick straight. You can add a thickening mascara if you’re going for a more dramatic look but a basic defining mascara would be a great choice. You may just need to add color and definition! But straight lashes can be problematic especially if you wear glasses and the lashes brush against them. (It does happen!) You’ll benefit from a curling mascara or by curling your lashes and then applying your regular mascara. If you prefer your lashes straight skip the curler.
group 4 – a, b, d
You poor thing, not only are your lashes fine or thin but they are short, too. Ladies this is why mascara was invented! To help those of us with lash deficiencies. Okay, that may sound extreme but seriously, we want gorgeous lashes, too! Anyway, to help add fullness look for a volume building mascara. There are lots of mascaras on the market that do double duty, too. They build volume and length! These are great for us ladies.
If you’re not as worried about fullness opt for a mascara that will help lengthen your lashes. And don’t be afraid to mix different formulas. You can achieve amazing results when you overlap two types of mascaras. For instance, you can apply one coat of lengthening mascara to your lashes and then follow with a thickening formula when it dries or vice versa. Comb your lashes between coats and after. If you want to add a curl to your lashes curl before you apply your first coat. If you’re overlapping a curling mascara with another formula apply the curling one first.
Group 5 – C, E
You have been blessed with lashes that have two of the three things women try to achieve with mascara. Consider yourself lucky. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t want or need mascara. You might still want help defining your lashes especially if they are light, as many blondes and redheads do. You can wear just about any mascara out there but would look fabulous in a simple defining mascara. For those who desire a curl, you can crimp your lashes with a curler then follow with a curling mascara.
Tips to keep your lashes healthy and looking their best
*Always remove your mascara each night. – This is so important! You should be washing your face everyday but even if you’re not you should at least remove your eye makeup. As gross as it may sound, we all have microscopic mites that live on our eyelashes. Yes, it’s a totally normal thing. Some people have more than others though. When you clean your eye makeup away you help rid the area of the mites which love the oils, mucus and sebum on your face. You’ll never get rid of the mites but by cleaning your eyes every night you’ll make the area much less hospitable to these critters.
*Use the correct eye makeup remover for the job. – You can’t wear waterproof mascara and expect a regular remover to remove it. Waterproof mascara contains ingredients that cause it to be resistant to water. You need to use an oil-based product in order to break down the mascara. Here are some of my recommendations:
- Almay’s Wipe it never happened™ Longwear & Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover Pads or Liquid
- Clinique’s Take The Day Off Makeup Remover
- Cetaphil Gentle Waterproof Makeup Remover
- Sephora’s Waterproof eye makeup remover
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Castor Oil
Other mascaras are washable and will easily come off with makeup-removing soap and water, micellar water or a face wipe. Always try to be gentle when removing your eye makeup.
*Don’t pick at your lashes! – When I was younger I remember sitting and watching TV and running my thumb and pointer fingernails from the base to the tips of my eyelashes. It would cause them to get a bump on them and I swear I’d pick some out. Don’t ask me why I did it but people do weird stuff and some do pick at their eyelashes. Find another way to keep your fingers busy so they don’t find their way to your eyes!
*Be gentle when curling your lashes. – There’s nothing too gentle about putting a crazy looking contraption right next to your eyeball and smashing it shut. Seriously though, there are certain things you can do to make sure you’re using your curler correctly and effectively. For starters, pick the right curler. There are so many out there it’s hard to find the best one. There are metal and plastic curlers, heated and non-heated curlers, the selection is mind-boggling
I use a simple $3 eyelash curler from e.l.f.. I’ve tried so many over the years and most metal ones are the same. The main differences between brands are:
- Some are spring action and offer more resistance when closing the curler.
- Rubber pads may be better/longer lasting.
- Some have more comfortable grips than others.
- The curvature of the curling pad is different.
I find that the biggest challenge when looking for a new eyelash curler is finding one with a comfortable curve. If the crimping pad doesn’t have enough curve to it you may not get a nice curl. On the other hand, every eye is different and some women may get better results from a straighter crimper. Either way, this is one of those things that’s figured out through trial and error. Even with the e.l.f. eyelash curler, every
But what happens when you’re using an eyelash curler but still not getting the results you want? Try heating the curler with your hairdryer. Hold the dryer on your curler’s crimper for a couple of seconds then curl your lashes. Be careful not to burn your eye!! Follow right away with your mascara. There are heated curlers on the market but I haven’t tried any recently. Years ago when I sold Avon I tried theirs and it worked fine. It was not a traditional crimping curler, it was more of a mascara wand type thing that you pressed against the base of your lashes. If you’re still not satisfied with your curl you’re probably going to want to shop around for another style of
While I have no specific recommendations, Shiseido and Shu Uemura are two of the highest rated high-end eyelash curlers. Mid-range choices are Tweezerman and Brilliant Beauty with N.Y.C. New York Color and e.l.f being two of the best drugstore curlers.
And while we’re covering curler dos and don’ts here’s a biggie. Don’t curl your lashes after you’ve applied your mascara. I know this is an unpopular opinion for some folks because they do it and never have any issues. Well, they are lucky. Curling after applying mascara can cause your lashes to stick to the rubber pad which can then result in you accidentally pulling out those lashes. It can also smash your lashes together causing clumps
*Condition your eyelashes a couple of nights a week. – This kind of relates to your eye makeup remover. When you use products like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Castor Oil to clean your lashes
If you find oils too messy or bothersome you may want to opt for growth or conditioning serums made specifically for eyelashes. I gave a short review for Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Boosting Serum you can read here, and I found that it really helped my lashes fill in and appear fuller. I’m currently using a conditioning product from L’Oreal (Lash Serum Solution) but the verdict is still out on it. If I see positive results I’ll list it on my Faves list so keep an eye out for it. There are other products out there that cost a lot more than the two I listed but I have not tried them.
*Use a primer. – If you’re using a thickening or lengthening mascara and it still isn’t giving you the volume or length you’re looking for try a mascara primer. There are various ones out there. Apply to bare lashes, then depending on the specific brand apply mascara before or after the primer dries. Be careful to cover your lashes fully when applying mascara so that light primers won’t be seen. If you’re having trouble covering the primer completely look for a black, brown or clear one.
*Last but not least, never underestimate the power of a good lash comb. I’ve always used plastic lash combs and thought they were fine. But then I tried a metal lash comb and now I’m hooked! I love how a metal comb glides through the lashes. Right now I’m using one from Sonia Kashuk and I love it. The main reasons I like using a lash comb are easy separation of lashes that may accidentally stick together, to remove clumps and to fan out lashes.
Some of my favorite multi-purpose mascaras:
- N°7 The Full 360
- N°7 Lash Extender Mascara
- Maybelline Illegal Length® Fiber Extensions Washable Mascara
I didn’t make a separate category for waterproof mascara above so I want to cover it here. The only mascara I wear is waterproof mascara. I wear contacts and am constantly getting stuff in my eyes. Because of that, I rub and dig around my eyes a lot which leads to smearing of regular mascara. Also, I experience minor allergies at different times of the year which cause my eyes to water. To top that off the sun and wind make my eyes water like crazy so the only suitable option for me is to wear mascara that is fully waterproof. Here are some of my tips for choosing and wearing it.
*Waterproof mascara can be a beast. Because of its ability to withstand contact with water and even some cleansers, you need to use removers made specifically for waterproof mascaras. I touched on this earlier and cannot stress the importance of using the proper remover. If you’re having difficulty removing your waterproof mascara keep in mind that it’s just doing its job! Would you use regular soap to remove nail polish? No, you’d use remover made specifically for removing nail polish. Same goes for waterproof mascara.
*Waterproof mascara can also be much more drying to your lashes. Because of this, you should try to condition your lashes regularly. I gave some suggestions above. Using primers under your mascara may help, too.
*Not all waterproof mascaras are created equal. Some are washable waterproof mascaras while others are not. Some are smudge resistant, others not so much. It’s one of those trial by error things where you may have to try a couple of different ones until you find the one that works just right. Here are my favorite waterproof mascaras that had to meet my criteria of not running, not smudging, not flaking and possibly most importantly holding my curl:
- Maybelline Lash Sensational® Waterproof Mascara
- L’Oreal Voluminous® Waterproof Mascara
- L’Oreal Voluminous® Extra-Volume Collagen Waterproof Mascara
Mascara is like most other beauty products, something you choose because of the expected results. You want it to serve a specific purpose and if it doesn’t suit your standards then you can easily go try another one that may. I think there are so many great drugstore mascaras out there that won’t break the bank and work just as well as high-end ones. Most drug stores even allow you to return cosmetics now if you do not like them which takes a lot of the fear out of trying new products.
Do you have a favorite mascara or mascara tip that would benefit TCMS’s readers? If so leave a comment below.