Mascara Secrets Unveiled


In This Article:

Long eyelashes have been coveted by women around the world for ages. Along with flawless skin and a model-esque figure, long eyelashes remain a symbol of beauty and femininity that women are trying to achieve. Just take a look at a fashion magazine … see the number of ads for mascaras—you get the picture.
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Recommended Mascaras

Mascara ads, however, are incredibly misleading because most of those models are wearing false eyelashes—it's not just the mascara! We know that applying mascara can give your eyes definition and depth, but the actual results don't match what the ads portray.

Finding the best mascara isn't easy either. All of us have purchased mascaras that flake, smear, or do nothing for our lashes. And then there's the skill you need to successfully apply mascara to make the most of what you already have. What to do? Following the steps below will help you on your way to finally getting the results you've been seeking, or at the very least, pretty darn close!

The DOs

  • DO follow our mascara recommendations on Beautypedia. For safety and hygiene purposes, NEVER test mascaras at the cosmetics counter. We've already done the work for you, so all you need to do is check out the Best Mascaras list for our top picks (and the critical details of what makes them great).
  • DO stick to black or brown. Every so often, makeup lines come out with trendy colored mascaras, such as blue, purple, or green, but there's a reason those don't stick around: They are not flattering, not sophisticated, and not capable of making the most of your lashes—mascara is about definition, not color. Leave the unnatural mascara colors on the shelf.
  • DO apply mascara after eyeshadow and eyeliner. Trying to apply mascara before eyeliner or before eyeshadow will lead to flaking and smearing. Putting mascara on after your other eye makeup helps you to not overdo the mascara to compensate for the shape and effect the eyeliner and eyeshadow provide.
  • DO check for smudges after each application. It's tricky to not get mascara on your skin during application. If you end up with a smudge, wait until the mascara dries, and then gently swipe it away with a cotton swab. If necessary, carefully touch up the makeup you might have dinged.
  • DO keep an old, clean mascara wand in your makeup bag. This works wonders when you need to remove excess mascara or clumps or need to separate the lashes. Be sure to wash the brush after every few uses to remove built-up mascara.
  • DO apply mascara in layers. Start with two or three strokes on one eye and then go to the other and do the same, then go back to the other eye. Rotating like that a few times will help you build great lashes, but be careful to not overdo it. Applying too many coats not only can look messy and overly thick, but also increases the likelihood of flaking, chipping, or smearing. If your lashes look clumped or spikey, you've gone too far.
  • DO consider using Latisse or RapidLash. Latisse is a prescription-only topically applied liquid used to grow lashes. It really does work and makes applying mascara a cinch with just one or two strokes of the wand, although it does have side effects you need to discuss with your physician. RapidLash, which is sold on the Internet and over the counter, contains an ingredient similar to the ingredient in Latisse. It's less expensive than Latisse, and it does grow lashes, but it also poses the same potential risks as Latisse.

The DON'Ts

  • DON'T forget the lower eyelashes. For the lower lashes, hold the mascara wand perpendicular to your eye and move it back and forth. Then use the clean mascara wand (Step 5) to remove any excess.
  • DON'T judge a mascara by its price tag. Expensive mascaras are NOT necessarily better than inexpensive mascaras. Mascaras from the drugstore can be just as good if not BETTER than those you'll find at the department store. One more reason the reviews on Beautypedia are essential because wasting money isn't pretty, and it certainly won't help you get longer lashes!
  • DON'T use waterproof mascaras on a daily basis. Removing waterproof mascara requires a good deal of tugging and wiping around the eye area, and doing that day after day will cause the skin to sag and the lashes to fall out. Of course, there are occasions when waterproof mascara is called for (e.g., emotional events), but think twice about daily use.
  • DON'T rely on waterproof mascara to prevent smudging or smearing. A good waterproof mascara stays on when you're crying or swimming, but it comes off easily with an emollient makeup remover. Anything even slightly greasy, like a moisturizer, concealer, foundation, or your skin, will cause waterproof mascara to smear.
  • DON'T curl your lashes after applying mascara. If you use an eyelash curler, use it before you apply the mascara. Curling your lashes after you've put on mascara can pull hairs out and lead to unnatural-looking, severely bent lashes that clump.

For more tips, watch Paula's mascara application video.

Want to know more about lash growth enhancement products? Read this article.

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Mascaras.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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