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How to Make the Most of Your Lashes

Updated on July 9, 2016
Jayne Lancer profile image

A beauty consultant by profession, Jayne has been advising on correct skin and hair care, makeup, and other cosmetics for almost 20 years.

Would you like longer, thicker, healthier-looking lashes with or without make-up? Learn all about conditioning, tinting and curling, as well as the many various ways of implementing mascara and false lashes to create special effects and correct eye shape.

The Natural Way to Longer, Thicker Looking Lashes

The stronger and healthier your natural lashes are, the longer and more voluminous they'll appear when you add mascara.

How to Condition Your Eyelashes

You can strengthen, lengthen and thicken your lashes with an eyelash conditioner containing caster oil.

Just put it on before you go to bed, and after a few weeks you’ll see a substantial difference in lash length and thickness.

Although you can use pure castor oil and get equally good results, a commercial conditioner cannot seep into your eyes. If you do use pure oil, apply only the tiniest amount.

Alternatively, use petroleum jelly. Many women swear by it.

Longer Looking Lashes with an Eyelash Curler

Curling makes lashes look longer and eyes seem more alert and open.

Before using a curler, make sure your lashes are in good condition in order to avoid breakages.

To use, place the curler as close to your eyelid as possible, squeeze, count to ten, and release. This gives a direct upward curl. If you'd prefer a softer, more gradual curl, progress to the ends of your lashes with quick pinches.

Never use an eyelash curler after applying mascara, since this will create a kink rather than a curl. It could even cause the lashes to break if the mascara has already dried.

Curling makes lashes look longer and eyes seem more alert and open.
Curling makes lashes look longer and eyes seem more alert and open.

Better Looking Lashes with Mascara

Applying mascara is the most obvious way to improve lash appearance, but it holds a lot more potential than many women realize.

How to Apply Mascara

But before you can get any kind of good results with mascara, you need to know the most effective way of applying it.

No matter what type of mascara you use, position the brush diagonally at the root of your lashes and sweep upwardly and outwardly starting at the inner eye corner.

If you apply more than one layer, you might need to comb your lashes between each application to avoid clumping. For this, use a special lash comb designed to fit the shape of the eye.

You’ll probably have to separate your lashes after applying mascara, which is best done with a sewing needle. It takes a little longer than with a comb, but results are always immaculate and there's no danger of accidentally pulling lashes out or spoiling the curl.

Which Color Mascara Should You Use?

Deciding Between Black and Brown Mascara

The natural choice for most women is black, but brown mascara may work better during the daytime, especially if your hair isn’t darker than medium or dark brown. Black mascara is more suitable for the nighttime when makeup should be bolder and more vibrant.

Colored Mascara

You can get some great effects if you apply colored mascara to your lower lashes. Mulberry and plum look stunning with green or hazel eyes, for example.

Creating Special Effects with Mascara

To create special effects or to optically correct the shape of the eye, place lengthening and thickening mascara products strategically over your regular mascara. This can also be done with false lashes, especially individual ones.

to Improve the Appearance of Hooded Eyes

Apply thickening mascara to your top lashes from your inner eye corner to halfway towards the outer corner.

To Improve the Appearance of Deep Set Eyes

Apply lengthening mascara to your top lashes.

To Improve the Appearance of Close Set Eyes

Apply lengthening mascara to the outer eye corner, starting halfway from the inner corner. This also works nicely if you want to create an elongated or ‘cat eye’ effect.

Use Mascara to Make Your Eyes Look Rounder

Apply lengthening mascara to your lower lashes and the lashes directly above your iris.

Volumizing Your Lashes Without Thickening Mascara

If you don’t have a volumizing or thickening mascara at hand, you can create a similar effect by building up your lashes with regular mascara and loose powder. Just powder your lashes before adding each layer of mascara. You can apply up to four layers in this way.

Take Your Mascara Off Before Bed

Always take off your mascara before going to sleep.

Mascara hardens on the lashes, making them brittle. Therefore, if your lashes press against the pillow, they are likely to break.

Better looking lashes with mascara.
Better looking lashes with mascara.

Eyeliner for Longer Looking Lashes

Everyone knows a simple stroke of eyeliner along the upper lid can make lashes appear significantly longer, but applying it to the upper waterline adds even more length.

Because eyeliner worn in this way is undetectable, it allows you to wear a natural look without losing too much lash length.

Dye Your Lashes

If you'd like a natural look, but your natural lashes are too light to be attractive—as is often the case with blondes—you can tint them.

Eyelash dye is available at drugstores in easy-to-use kits designed for home use, so there's no need to go to the salon to get it done.

Tinted lashes look good if they’re curled and coated with clear lash and brow gel, or a transparent conditioner.

False Lashes

Apply individual false lashes during the day for an understated look, and a full set at night when you need something more dramatic.

How to Apply a Full Set of False Lashes

Full sets of lashes come attached to a band.

  1. Apply a thin layer of glue directly to the band and wait 20 – 30 seconds.
  2. Starting at your outer eye corner, attach the lashes to your lid as close to your natural lash line as possible.
  3. Using tweezers, gently press the lashes to your lid and allow to dry for a few minutes.
  4. Curl and apply mascara.

Before applying new lashes, bend their band back and forth for a couple of minutes to make them less stiff and easier to work with.

Full sets of lashes come attached to a band.
Full sets of lashes come attached to a band.

How to Apply Individual False Lashes

  1. Deposit a little glue on the back of your hand and extract a lash from its packaging using tweezers.
  2. Dip the end of the lash into the glue, wait 20 – 30 seconds, then position it where you want it on your lash line.
  3. Gently press it into place with tweezers, wait a few minutes for the glue to dry, then curl and apply mascara.

Unless you’re applying false lashes strategically to create a special effect as described above, you should begin at your outer eye corner.

Photo Credits

First image by Schenzai (

Second image by Jayne Lancer

Third image by Nikasucha (

Fourth image by PublicDomainPictures (

© 2010 Jayne Lancer


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