5 Lash-Enhancing Alternatives To Mascara

Photo: MCV Photo.
Very few women are born with the naturally lush, dark eyelashes that many so desperately covet. Those lucky ladies have no problem skipping mascara in pursuit of the ubiquitous no-makeup look, but it's not so easy for those of us with short, stubby lashes or lashes that are so blonde they're almost translucent. We have to rely on makeup to give us that flirty, doe-eyed look, right? If only it weren't so.

It seems like mascara names get longer and more boastful every year, but even the latest Hypnotic Triple-Length Va-Va-Voom Voluminous Lashes on Fleek Mascara has its pitfalls. Whether it's drugstore or prestige, fiber or waterproof, mascara is always going to be kind of a pain in the butt. It smears, it flakes, it clumps, it dries up, it expires, you have to make a stupid face while applying it, and then it's a whole hassle trying to take it off at the end of the night. Worst of all, mascara is a catch-22 in that it can sometimes cause lashes to fall out at a faster rate than normal, making you rely on it even more as it damages your natural lashes.

There has to be a better way to get gorgeous lashes. Luckily, there are a few options out there for those who are ready to put down the wand. Whether you're looking to find a healthier option for your lashes or just want to save time in the morning, one of these solutions just might work for you. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of five lash-enhancing alternatives to mascara.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
False Eyelashes

Pros: You can find them cheap, and reuse them several times if you take care of them well. There is also a lot of variety, from natural-looking lashes to thick, dark ones to extremely long ones. You can even attempt a natural look with individual lashes if you happen to have the patience of a saint. They're also easy to remove at the end of the night, unlike waterproof mascara.

Cons: They can be tricky to get the hang of applying; there's the hassle of glue and trimming them, not to mention putting them on straight. The only solution to that is practice. Although they can be as cheap as $2 for 10 pairs (eBay, my friends), the cost can add up over time if you wear them daily. Finally, they can look unnatural, especially in daylight or because of poor application.

To sum it up: Falsies are a good way to get dramatic lashes fast — once you get used to them, that is. Finding cheap sets that look natural, putting them on with minimal hassle and swear words, and storing them correctly to get a few extra uses out of them are all part of the learning process. If you're just looking for a faster alternative to applying mascara in the morning, this is not it.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
Lash Extensions

Pros: Lash extensions are a more permanent and natural-looking alternative to false eyelashes, plus they don't require daily application. It usually only takes about an hour for a salon to apply them for you in an entirely painless process. They can last for about a month, and during that time you'll probably find you don't even need to wear mascara. They are a great option for pretty much everybody, whether you wear contacts, have long or short lashes, or have sensitive eyes. You can also customize your lashes to your wishes — simply talk to your technician about the different options.

Cons: Extensions are more expensive than false lashes or mascara. A reputable salon can charge anywhere between $50 to $200, and you will need to get it redone every month or two. Of course, you can certainly find salons that offer the service for cheaper but beware of a deal that is too good to be true, as there are risks involved. After all, we're talking about your delicate eye area here. Research salons first (Yelp reviews are a good bet) and ask questions. You want a salon that is experienced, and uses synthetic mink lashes and formaldehyde-free glue (and latex-free if you're allergic to latex!). Another con is that upkeep can be tricky. You have to be very careful while showering, washing your face, touching your eyes, removing eye makeup, and even sleeping in certain positions to avoid losing your precious lash extensions even faster.

To sum it up: Lash extensions are a great long-term option for dramatically enhancing your lashes without makeup, but they can be pricey and need to be redone regularly. This might be a good option for a special occasion, like your wedding, or for a vacation when you want to look great without having to worry about mascara.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
Lash Tinting

Pros: Lash tinting can help pre-existing long lashes look darker and longer. Many of us have lashes that turn blonde at the tips; lash tinting may surprise you by showing how long your lashes actually are. Plus, you most likely won't need mascara anymore: You can just curl your lashes and run out the door. There are also a lot of different ways to get your lashes tinted, whether by going to a salon that offers the service or trying a DIY lash-tinting kit at home.

Cons: There are simply zero FDA-approved permanent dyes or tints for eyelashes. Whether you go to a salon or attempt DIY lash tinting at home, you're taking a risk of irritating your eyes and skin and potentially even causing blindness. Also, they won't actually make your lashes longer or thicker. They will just appear that way. If you already have dark lashes that are simply short or sparse, this won't do much for you.

To sum it up: Lash tinting can be great for those with long but pale lashes, but you must do your research first and proceed with caution to avoid permanent damage. It’s best to go to a reputable salon that uses vegetable-based dye, like a Benefit boutique.
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Photo: MCV Photo.

Pros: Latisse is the first and only FDA-approved treatment for growing thicker, longer lashes. It is guaranteed to work on almost everyone. Not only will it make lashes longer and thicker but it also usually makes lashes darker. You can even use it on your eyebrows. There isn't really any annoying upkeep as with other lash-enhancing options. You simply apply it once a day, and then go about your routine as usual. Wear mascara or don't, use whatever kind of cleanser or eye cream you want, and don't worry about sleeping on your back or getting your lashes wet.

Cons: It is expensive: One month's worth of Latisse is usually $120. You need to get a prescription from your dermatologist. You have to apply it every day, and it takes at least eight to 10 weeks to see results. If you stop using Latisse, your lashes will go back to how they were before. Finally, there is always a small chance of side effects, as with any medication; they include darkening of your eye color or eyelid skin and irritation, although these side effects are rare.

To sum it up: Latisse is the priciest method (unless you're getting the most expensive lash extensions possible every month), and there is a very small risk of eye irritation or hyper-pigmentation. However, if you have the dough to spend, this option is probably the best one for giving dramatic lashes that natural look with the smallest amount of upkeep.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
Natural Oils

Pros: Natural methods for growing eyelashes are often touted as a safer, cheaper alternative to options like Latisse. It's a simple matter of applying one or more natural oils to the lashes. Castor, coconut, vitamin E, almond, and olive oils are just a few of the most popular choices for natural lash growth. You can pick just one (castor oil is a great choice because it is full of fatty acids and vitamin E) or mix several together for a DIY lash-growth serum. You can find them for under $10 at health food stores and online — just be sure to look for organic oils with no added ingredients or fragrance. Use a clean mascara wand to apply the oil to your lashes every night before bed; you can also apply it to your eyebrows.

Cons: This method, although the cheapest, is also the slowest and least dramatic. You probably won't get amazing lashes within a month just from applying castor oil, despite what Pinterest tries to tell you. It can also be messy and somewhat annoying to apply, especially if using a very thick oil like castor oil. That's why a mascara wand is necessary, but you have to be vigilant about keeping the wand clean to avoid getting bacteria in your eyes.

To sum it up: This method is safe (if done properly) and cheap, but don't expect instant results. Over time, your lashes will be stronger and more hydrated, making them less likely to fall out. This will make them appear longer and thicker (but not darker) than before.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
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