Do you wish you had the look of long, luscious, beautiful lashes, but the beauty gods decided this just simply wasn’t meant to be? Don’t despair! Even if your lashes are naturally a little lacking, there are still plenty of tips and tricks you can use to help you get the look you dream about.
Sometimes you want a temporary, instant fix for a night out, and other times you want to take the long route and work towards permanently lengthening your lashes. Whatever the case, we’re here with a list of all the ways you can take your lashes from drab to fab.
Use a Lengthening Eyelash Serum
For some of us, we want our lashes to look thicker and healthier without the aid of makeup or false lashes. If you fall into this category, you should consider adding an eyelash serum to your daily routine. Eyelash serums have been growing in popularity over the past several years, and now they’re more readily available than ever.
While there is currently a mountain of eyelash serums on the market, there is only one product that has been FDA-approved and proven effective, and that is Latisse. Latisse is available only through a prescription from your primary care physician or your eye doctor, but its results are well documented. Lashes are longer, thicker, and darker. However, once you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will gradually return to their former state.
If you prefer to opt for a cosmetic rather than a prescription drug, then there are tons of over-the-counter serums that help condition your lashes and make them healthier. So, while Latisse actually causes your lashes to grow, over-the-counter serums simply improve the health of your lashes, making them less likely to break and improving their overall appearance, which can make them seem longer.
One cult-favorite is GrandeLASH MD Lash Enhancing Serum. At the time of this writing, it boasts over 90 thousand “loves” on Sephora.com and for a good reason. It is chock-full of vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids, which help enhance lashes and give you fuller, longer-looking lashes in one to three months. According to a consumer study, 97% of users saw “more visible lashes,” and 94% saw “healthier-looking lashes” in just 12 weeks of use.
For those with sensitive eyes, WooLash is a great option. It is gluten-free, sulfate-free, and paraben-free, making it a relatively safe option for all users. This lash and brow serum by Shiseido is another popular option thanks to its doe-foot applicator, which helps reach between the lashes and into the lash line. It can also be used to help thicken your eyebrows if they are also feeling a little sparse.
Apply False Lashes for Instant Volume and Length
Maybe you’re someone who is relatively satisfied with their natural lashes, but you want a bit of extra glam for a special occasion like a wedding or a date night. Or perhaps you have tried serums but still want fuller looking lashes on the daily. If you’re someone who wants results right now, then false lashes are a great option.
While false lashes were formerly reserved for dramatic red carpet starlets or theatre performers, they have now crashed into the world of mainstream beauty thanks to Instagram trendsetters, shifting perceptions of beauty, and a wider variety of lash types available. While in the past, you might have received odd looks, nowadays, you can confidently run errands with a set of falsies and fit right in.
False lashes come in several forms: individual, clusters, and strips. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.
- Individual lashes are great for subtle looks, adding length and filling gaps but still looking natural. However, they can be tedious and time-consuming to apply.
- Lash clusters are good for those who want more customizability and the ability to emphasize certain parts of the lash line, like the outer edge, but who don’t have the time to use individual lashes or the skill to apply a full strip.
- Lash strips are what most people instantly think of when considering false lashes, and they consist of an entire strip of lashes meant to sit along your upper lash line. They add instant drama and volume but can be notoriously difficult to apply.
The type of false lashes you choose will depend upon the look you are going for, i.e., natural versus dramatic, and the amount of time and skill you have available. Each type is applied similarly, but some tricks can help you become a pro in no time.
How to Apply False Lashes
Let’s be honest: applying false eyelashes can be pretty tricky, even for seasoned makeup pros. But with a little practice, you can apply your own lashes by following just a few steps. First of all, consider the type of lashes you are applying and the look you want to achieve. This will determine what approach you will need to take when applying your falsies.
For individual lashes or lash clusters, grab a pair of tweezers or a lash applicator like this one to make the task easier. Using a magnifying mirror can also help you achieve better precision with your application. Once you have your lash or lash cluster picked up with your tweezer, follow these steps:
- Dip the base of the lash into eyelash glue, making sure not to cover the lash with too much glue
- Allow the glue to dry for a few seconds, as this will make it slightly tackier
- Starting at the outer edge of your eye, use your tweezers to gently wriggle the base of the lash up against your lash line
- Wait a few moments for the glue to take hold and begin to dry before releasing the lash and moving on to the next lash
- Repeat as needed until you achieve your desired final look
For lash strips, you’ll want first to determine what type of lashes will work best for your eyes, which will often depend upon your eye shape. Once you’ve selected your lashes, remove them from the box and give them a flex in order to soften up the curve and help them fit your lash line. Then, follow these steps:
- Apply black eyeliner to give a dark base that will help hide the strip of the lashes
- Measure the lashes against your eye and trim them if necessary to make the length appropriate for your lash line
- The strip should start where your natural lashes begin at the nasal edge, and end about 2-4 lashes in from your natural lashes on the temporal edge
- Apply a thin strip of glue to the spine of the lashes and wait several seconds for it to get tacky
- Don’t blow on the glue! This can cause germs from your mouth to get on the lashes, and you don’t want those near your eyes!
- Using tweezers, gently lay the strip of the lashes along your lash line
- You can use your fingers or the tweezers to gently pinch the false lashes with your natural lashes to get them to better blend together, aiming for no notable gap between your lash line and the lash strip
- Let your lashes dry for a minute or so, and then you are ready to go
Whether you are applying a full strip, clusters, or individual lashes, keep in mind that it can be tricky. It may take a bit of practice to get it right, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt is difficult.
Eyelash Extensions Can Give Lashes a Natural Looking Boost
If you don’t have the time to apply a strip of feathery fake lashes every morning and you don’t have the patience to wait for an eyelash serum to do its work, then you might want to consider eyelash extensions. Lash extensions can range in length from 6mm to 17mm, and there are three main types of extensions:
- Synthetic: flexible and able to be curled, sturdier and long-lasting
- Silk: finer, more flexible and softer than synthetic but heavier than mink
- Mink (or faux-mink): feathery and lighter weight for a fluffy, natural feel, but more expensive
Unlike the big strips of lashes you might apply at home, these lashes are individualized and applied one at a time by a stylist using a special semi-permanent glue. The glue can vary in its composition, however, so it is possible you might have an allergic reaction and need to be cautious if your eyes are sensitive. Let your lash technician know if you have any known allergies.
If you want to get a full set of eyelash extensions, it can take up to two hours, but afterward, you can keep your lashes maintained throughout the entire year by short touch-up sessions every month or so. Also, keep in mind that your natural lashes will determine how long and thick of extensions you can have. If your lashes are short and sparse, trying to make dramatic, butterfly-wing lash extensions will damage your natural lashes.
Over time, the lash extensions will fall out naturally as your eyelashes grow normally. Because of this, it is important to continue to get your lashes periodically touched up by a professional if you want to maintain the look of fuller, thicker lashes. As long as the lashes are applied properly by a professional, there is no risk of damaging your natural lashes. You will want to avoid rubbing or trying to remove extensions yourself, as well, to avoid damage.
Eyelash extensions can be a game-changer for those of us with thin lashes, but you still need to follow a few rules to keep them looking fabulous for as long as possible.
- Don’t get them wet within 24 hours of application
- Don’t expose them to extreme heat (like when you open your oven when cooking)
- Don’t use any heavy eye creams or oils on lash extensions
- Don’t use waterproof mascara or heavily coat lashes in mascara
- Don’t rub or try to remove lash extensions yourself
Use an Eyelash Curler to Enhance Your Natural Lashes
You might think that eyelash curlers only help those who already have long, luscious lashes. In truth, eyelash curlers can help improve the look of your lashes even if they don’t feel particularly thick and long. The trick is to pick the right type of curler for your lashes and to follow a few simple steps to achieve the best results.
How to Pick an Eyelash Curler
Heated eyelash curlers apply actual heat to your lashes, so it's as if you were using a mini-curling iron for your lashes. They can give your lashes a dramatic curl that lasts longer than traditional curling methods. Heated curlers tend to give a more dramatic look, but they may damage your lashes over time, so it's good to supplement lashes with a daily serum if you use a heated curler frequently.
Traditional eyelash curlers are easier to use than the heated varieties, but the effect won’t last as long. When selecting a curler, look for one that is curved to fit the shape of your eye, and that also has thick enough padding that it won’t damage your lashes when you use it.
Keep in mind: you can always blast your metal eyelash curler for a few seconds with a hairdryer in order to give it a longer-lasting curl, just make sure you don’t overheat the metal and burn your lashes.
How to Use a Traditional Eyelash Curler and a Heated Eyelash Curler
Most agree that you should start with fresh, clean lashes when you go to curl them. To start, hold the eyelash curler up to your eye so that the curve follows the natural shape of your eye. Then, follow these steps for a traditional eyelash curler:
- Open the curler and place your upper lashes between the clamps
- Try to place the clamp as close to the base of your lashes as possible without actually touching your eyelid
- Squeeze the curler shut and hold for a few seconds; some people like to lightly pulse the pressure applied
- Release, and move the curler to the midpoint of your lashes, tilting the curler to line up with your eyelid crease
- Squeeze again, holding for a few seconds
- If desired, you can also use the curler at the tips of your lashes for an additional lift
- Finish with mascara for a complete look
Remember always to clean your eyelash curler and replace the pads as necessary whenever they become worn out.
If you are using a heated eyelash curler, follow the same general steps as above but simply gently press down three times at the base of the lashes and avoid curling your lashes multiple times in one day.
Safely Remove Eye Makeup and Nourish Lashes
As mentioned above, it’s important before using an eyelash curler to start with clean lashes. You also want to be sure to remove makeup every night before bed in order to promote healthy skin and lashes. However, you want to make sure you aren’t using harsh products that could potentially damage your lashes, leaving you with even less length and volume than you started with!
Piperberry’s Kale Cleanser is a great example of a gentle, vegan, certified organic cleanser. It also doesn’t have any silicones, phthalates, dyes, or fragrance, meaning it's perfect even for those with sensitive skin. It also has antioxidants that can help promote healthier skin and lashes. Glossier’s Milky Oil is another gentle cleanser that works well on waterproof makeup while also conditioning and soothing your skin and lashes with ingredients like castor oil.
When you go to wash off your makeup, resist the urge to rub your lashes vigorously. If you feel like you need to scour your eyelids to remove your makeup, you’re probably using the wrong type of cleanser. Waterproof makeup is usually best removed using an oil-based cleanser.
If you still find it hard to completely remove eye makeup, soak a cotton pad with eye makeup remover and use a swiping motion to sweep your lashes clean. You can also rest the cleanser-soaked pad on your closed eyelids for 30 seconds before wiping the makeup away. Try to only swipe in one direction, as this is gentler on the lashes and less likely to cause damage.
Replace Your Mascara Regularly
Some mascara can be ridiculously expensive, so we totally understand the temptation to want to make it last as long as possible. To be perfectly honest, however, you should be replacing your mascara supply regularly, even if you haven’t used up the whole tube.
Using old mascara can lead to bacterial infections that can damage your eyes and lashes, including infections that cause you actually to lose lashes! To avoid this unnecessary drama, you should be replacing your mascara every two to three months and throw away any mascara you have been using if you get an eye infection.
In addition, if you have a tube of mascara that dried up, don’t try to add water or saliva to moisten it, as this can encourage eye infections. The FDA also advises against sharing eye products, including mascara, with others.
Use Eyeliner to Fake a Thicker Lash Line
While it won’t necessarily make your lashes look longer, some well-placed eyeliner can give your lashes a thicker, healthier look. Try to apply the liner right along the lashes and even between lashes.
To get liner between lashes, try drawing small dots or dashes between your lashes. If you are using a pencil liner, you can use a small brush or smudge stick to blend these dots together and fake a thicker, fuller lash line.
Try a Lash Primer
If you truly want your lashes to look miles long, it’s worth investing in a good eyelash primer. The primer works as a base coat before you apply any mascara. Depending on the formula, they often deliver nutrients to the lashes to make them softer and healthier and help protect them from any damaging effects from your makeup.
Some primers will also help separate and lengthen your lashes due to added vitamins and micro-fibers, such as this one by Lancome.
Wipe Off Excess Mascara from Your Lashes
This tip might sound a little counterintuitive. Shouldn’t more product mean better-looking lashes? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
If you apply too much mascara, the result can sometimes be clumpy, crusty lashes. It is better to focus on having the mascara be evenly distributed in thin layers over all of your lashes. When your mascara starts to clump, it can make your lashes look like they have thin spots or look artificial. It can also weigh down your lashes and make them look even less voluminous.
To avoid this, use a clean cotton bud to gently sweep away any excess mascara that might be clinging to your lashes and help separate the individual lashes. This tiny step can make a big difference in the overall appearance of your lashes.
You can also clean off your mascara wand before you even swipe your lashes by gently rubbing it along a clean tissue or the edge of the mascara tube. This can help keep excess product from building up on your lashes.
Choose a Mascara Wand that Suits Your Eye’s Needs
It used to be that all mascara seemed to come with the same straight, inch-long spoolie applicator. Now, however, there’s a whole world of different applicator wand types. Some are longer, shorter, curved, pointed; you name it. Picking a wand that works better for your eye type can make a big difference in how your lashes look.
For example, eyes that are smaller or those with monolids tend to fare better with smaller, shorter wands. This helps you get closer to the lash line and distribute the mascara more evenly across your lashes.
Thicker, brushier wands tend to give more volume to lashes, but a tapered wand will allow you to reach the inner corner of your eye better.
Curled wands are designed to help encourage your lashes to curl. Skinnier wands will concentrate on making your lashes look longer and more defined, but will do little to add volume.
Be sure to take care when selecting a wand to use with your mascara, as it can help you boost the appearance of your lashes. If your preferred mascara comes with a different style of wand, don’t be afraid to replace it with a wand that is more suitable for your needs. (Plus, that unwanted wand can be cleaned and repurposed!)
How You Apply Mascara Can Make a Difference
Did you know that you can adjust how you use your mascara wand to give a different effect? To give your lashes a thicker, longer look, you can gently wiggle your mascara wand as you apply the mascara. Starting at the base of your lashes, gently wiggle the applicator as you sweep to the tips of your lashes.
Marie Claire gives a nice step-by-step explanation of how best to utilize the wand wiggle. Keep your head pointed straight, squint your eyes, and push the wand at the base of your lashes and wiggle it. Do this a few times before you even begin to coat the rest of your lashes. You can also opt to hold the brush at the base and then firmly blink your lashes through the wand’s bristles. This will apply the mascara in a thicker coat than if you were to brush it on.
If you’re having trouble reaching your lashes, you can also hold the wand vertically to coat lashes and have a more natural finished look individually. However, for thicker lashes, holding the brush horizontally will give you the best boost in volume.
Olive Oil Can Help Soften and Enrich Your Lashes for Longer Length
Now, we aren’t saying to grab your bottle of extra virgin from the kitchen and start coating your lashes with it. However, there is a lot of thought that since olive oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, using it on your lashes can help them grow longer and become softer and shinier.
If you decide to pursue this option, we recommend selecting an olive oil that is specifically designed for use on your hair and face, such as this one by the Ancient Greek Remedy Store. With over 10,000 reviews and just shy of a five-star ranking, it is an incredibly popular remedy that many swear by.
When applying these oils, it can be helpful to use a clean mascara wand or spoolie to evenly coat lashes and avoid getting any of the product in your eyes.
Vitamin E Oil Can Promote Stronger Lashes
Stronger lashes mean less breakage and, therefore, potentially longer, more beautiful lashes. Vitamin E oil has received attention thanks to the likes of bloggers and celebrities like the Kardashians toting its benefits.
When applied to the lashes, it can help moisturize and protect your lashes to give a fuller, healthier appearance over time. There still doesn’t appear to be any evidence-based research to specifically back up the benefits of vitamin E oil for eyelashes, but it is hard to argue with thousands of Amazon reviewers who proclaim its benefits.
If you’ve been lamenting your lashes and wishing you could have more dramatic, longer, beautiful lashes, you are in luck. As you’ve seen in this article, there are a number of ways to improve the appearance of your lashes.
Some methods are instantaneous, while others may take several months to take effect fully. You can choose to opt for entirely natural remedies or try amplifying your lashes using mascara, eyelash extensions, or false lashes.
Whatever option you choose, you can rest assured that you don’t have to be content with sparse, short lashes any longer.