Many women cite mascara as the one cosmetic item they can’t live without—and with good reason. Just a few coats of this inky formula can transform even the most minimally made up face. We tapped makeup artists Rachel Wood and Mari Shten for an A-to-Z guide on what you need to know on wielding the mighty mascara wand and lushing up your lashes for a variety of looks, from doe-eyed innocence to downright sexy.
Not all mascaras are created alike, which is good news for fringe. It means there's a formula to fill in where Mother Nature left off (and many that address multiple lash woes at once). Learn the lingo that tops the tubes and you can be on your way to achieving thickness, definition, curl, length—or all of the above.
Volumizing/thickening: This formula promises to fatten up wimpy fringe.
Defining: A defining mascara aims to darken each individual lash from root to tip.
Curling: A curling mascara lends bend to too-straight lashes.
Lengthening: This formula seeks to elongate lashes.
Waterproof: A waterproof mascara lasts through sweat, water activities and tears.
Enhancing/brightening: This mascara is typically a shade other than black to accentuate eye color and create a wide-awake effect.
The best mascaras are those that deliver an ace formula and a dynamo wand. This is because wands can make or break a mascara. In fact, they can be just as important, if not more so, than the actual formula. Shape as well as bristle length, size and material (from flexible rubber to spindly nylon, rayon, silicon or hair) play a big part in how your fringe will flutter. Here’s a breakdown of classic wand shapes and their lash-enhancing functions.
Crescent-shape: An arched wand helps to curl lashes.
Bristle-free: The screwlike surface of this type of brush gets right to the lash line to make peepers pop.
Cone-shaped: The wand has shorter bristles at the tip and longer bristles toward the bottom to help lengthen and lightly stretch lashes as they coat them.
Double-tapered: This brush has short bristles at both ends with longer bristles in the middle to thicken all lashes.
Comb: A comb wand separates each lash as it coats for extreme definition.
Mascara Application 101
Before we even get into the nitty-gritty of desired effects, you need to know the absolute basics of mascara application. (Yes, there is a best way to maneuver that wand!) For top lashes, hold your wand horizontally at the base of your eyelashes and wiggle it side to side, moving from roots to tips. If you still have some mascara on your wand, pass it back over your outer-corner lashes at an 80-degree angle. For bottom lashes, hold the brush perpendicular to your eye and skim it gently over fringe.
Five Ways to Maximize Your Fringe
Just as you can manipulate your mane into numerous styles, you can also wave your mascara wand to create different lash looks. Here is a breakdown of the most-coveted options to flaunt your fringe.
Doe eyes: Bambi-like lashes project youth and innocence. To achieve them, Wood recommends first curling lashes. “On clean lashes, put your curler (she likes cult favorite Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler) right at the root and clamp it for 10 seconds,” she says. Follow with a generous application of lengthening mascara (she suggests Lancôme L’Extrême Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara). “Wait a minute or two until the lashes are dry and then re-curl the lashes again," Wood says. "Comb through with an eyelash comb and repeat the first step (curling) until you achieve your desired look.” To finish, don’t forget those bottom lashes. Wood favors Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Waterproof Mascara due to its small, ball-shaped wand that coats hard-to-reach lashes evenly, as well as its waterproof formula, which she says “prevents undereye smudging.”
Cat-like eyes: Elongating your eye shape gives you exotic peepers, and who doesn’t like that beauty descriptor? First, Shten recommends curling lashes. Then apply your mascara (try Maybelline Great Lash) using a sweeping motion, starting at the inner corners and moving toward the outer corners of the eyes. “It’s important that you add extra lashings of mascara onto the outer lashes so they extend obviously beyond the eye’s edge,” Wood says. To further accentuate the look, “you can add a couple of individual false lashes on the outer corners of the eyes to lend more drama,” Shten says. After applying one coat of mascara, affix your falsies and then sweep a few more coats of mascara at the outer edges to blend the faux lashes with your natural batters.
Super-long lashes: A lengthening mascara formula is just one part of the equation to mile-long lashes. First, Shten says to sweep a mascara primer with fibers (try Lancôme Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base) through your top lashes. The fibers cling to lashes, increasing their diameter as well as their length. Then, using your lengthening mascara, “brush the wand straight upward, from root to tip, and ‘tap’ the ends of your lashes with your wand to add a touch more product to lend extra length,” Wood says.
Super-thick lashes: Not surprisingly, you’ll want a thickening mascara formula (try L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara) that will add extra heft to lashes. Shten likes using a lash primer for this look, as well, but she also turns to a black eyeliner pencil for increased girth. “Start by lining super close to the roots and then blend the liner between the lashes,” she says. For even more lushness, Wood paints the topside of the upper lashes as well. After lining and priming lashes, apply two coats of mascara, and “be sure to apply the second coat of mascara quickly before the first coat dries” to avoid clumping, Shten says.
Spidery lashes: The spring runways reintroduced many beauty trends from the ’60s, so Twiggy-esque lashes may have a place in the beauty vernacular yet again. How do you execute spiky lashes without overdoing it? “Curl and repeat like you do for a doe-eye design, but also wiggle the mascara wand side to side when applying,” Wood says. Then comb through lashes with an eyelash comb, like Tweezerman Folding Ilashcomb. Make sure to coat lower lashes, as well, running the tip of your wand perpendicularly down the hairs. If you want to emphasize the look, pinch together sections of the lower lashes using tweezers. Shten takes this look a step further: She applies a touch of loose face powder to the upper lashes with a large powder brush after mascara has dried. Then she brushes on another coat of mascara for added oomph.