Mascara Tricks That Will Make Your Lashes Look Amazing

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Putting on mascara isn't exactly rocket science: remove wand from tube, swipe, swipe again, look appraisingly in mirror, nod at self, put wand back in tube. Seems simple — is simple. But, as well as our swipe-and-go routine has served us, we can't help but feel we're missing something. We've watched pros do this oh-so-basic beauty move a hundred times, and where we get a slightly zhuzhed-up fringe, they create mile-long lashes that would make Kim Kardashian cry.
We wanted to learn how to get more from our mascara. So, we talked to some of our favorite makeup masters to learn how they create crazy-long, full lashes. Turns out, there are a ton of tiny tweaks that could make a dramatic difference in your lash look.
Read on for their secrets to a lush, fluttery fringe.
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Photo: Via Surratt.
Curl First
Almost every makeup artist we interviewed for this story said that curling your lashes before you apply mascara is, hands-down, the most impactful way to make them legit long and lush.

"I always curl the lashes with an eyelash curler by gently bending at the base of the lash and holding for a few seconds, then gently walking it out to the end of the lash," says makeup artist Julie Harris. "This opens up the eye immediately, and lifts the lashes so they stand out more."

Adds pro Troy Surratt: "Lash curlers flip the lashes upward, and allow more light to hit the iris of the eye, so the overall effect is that eyes appear larger and brighter... If you wake up feeling like you could use two extra hours of sleep, use a lash curler."

And, if you don't have your curler handy (or are too scared of the contraption), makeup artist Lucy Halperin has a pretty genius hack: Apply your mascara, and while it's still wet, use your fingertips to push up your lashes. It's not quite as good as a quality curl session, but it will do in a pinch.

Makeup legend Laura Geller says she likes to apply primer before curling and applying mascara. "Applying primer first conditions lashes and prevents breakage — and actually helps lashes curl more, because they are malleable."

Still not convinced? "Think of a lash curler like prepping your skin with moisturizer or primer before you apply foundation," says Surratt. "Sure, your lashes will look nice with a great mascara, but curling them amps up your look."
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Photo: Via Giorgio Armani.
Wipe It Off
While some of us are all about the clumpy-lash look, others still consider it the bane of their existence. Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic, but clumps when you don't want them can be annoying.

Makeup artist Robert Sesnek, who works with beauties like Chrissy Teigen and Lily Aldridge, has a crazy-simple fix. "To avoid clumping, always clean excess mascara from the wand with a tissue." Since most mascara brushes grab too much product, wiping them off ensures you only get the amount you need.
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Photo: Via L'Oréal.
Wiggle It
For most of us, swiping on mascara is a strictly one-direction move. But, according to makeup artist Julie Harris, we could all benefit from wiggling our wands (just a little bit).

"I wiggle at the roots," she says. "Then, as I sweep upward to the end of the lash, I blink, so it forces the brush to comb every lash." A more advanced move, Harris says, is to start wiggling at the outer corners, and then brush inward toward the center of the eyes, which lifts and builds fullness. Then, she wiggles the wand again and lifts outward to lengthen. To finish, she holds the wand so that the tip is pointing at the lashes, and brushes each lash individually, so they fan out.

According to Sesnek, the wiggle helps create a "voluminous, full lash with separated ends and a well-defined base." He recommends doing the wiggle once, letting the mascara dry, and then applying a second coat with the same technique.
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Photo: Via Charlotte Tilbury.
Zig, Then Zag
We couldn't do a mascara-tips story without talking to the Queen of Lashes herself, Charlotte Tilbury. The go-to makeup artist for celebs like Kate Moss and Gisele Bündchen, Tilbury is such a fanatic about creating the perfect lash look that she used to cocktail five different mascaras together to get the result she wanted.

Fortunately, you don’t need to carry around an arsenal of lengtheners to achieve her signature full, fat lash. After many trials, she created the mascara in her eponymous line to do the work of five with just one tube.

To get the most out of it, here's Tilbury's secret method: "You need to apply mascara in a zigzag motion from root to tip, and pull it outward diagonally, from the outer corner of the eye. This creates a sexy, fluttering Bambi [look] and really flicks out the lashes — great for amplifying a feline eye! For the bottom lashes, hold a tapered brush vertically, to coat each lash individually. Finally, always use three coats of mascara."

Halperin is also a fan of the zigzag: "It gives the lashes a fabulous extra coat of color. Plus, adding extra mascara to the roots will give them a boost of thickness and make your eyes look bigger."
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Photo: Via Maybelline.
Finish With Powder
"I have a great trick to make lashes look fuller," says makeup artist Brigitte Reiss-Andersen. "After curling them...brush them with a bit of loose powder. It adds texture and gives them more body, just like dry shampoo does for hair. After that's done, apply your mascara — you'll be surprised at how rich your lashline looks."
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Photo: Via Laura Geller.
Work In The Shadows
Did that seem a little high-maintenance for you? If so, Geller has a way to get the dry-shampoo effect without any extra effort: "If you apply powder eyeshadow first, don’t clean the extra flakes off the lashes. That extra powder acts as a volumizer — the same way lash fibers do — and helps lashes look fuller and plumper." Mascara alone just can't replicate the added texture of powder, she explains.
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Photo: Via MAC.
Fan Out
Many women forget to get mascara onto the roots of their lashes. This creates a gap that makes them look like, as makeup artist Katie Mellinger puts it, "weird, floating catepillars in front of your eyes."

She has a not-so-obvious fix for this pesky problem. Enter: the fan brush. "Standard mascara wands don't make it easy to get to the very root of the lash, without getting mascara all over your eyelid or your waterline," she says. "To get around this, I use a makeup brush. My favorite for this is the MAC 205 Mascara Fan Brush, but any small, stiff-bristled brush will do."

"I use this trick almost every time I apply mascara to my clients," she continues. "You can also get those tiny, little eyelashes that are almost impossible to coat when using a standard spoolie brush."

Mellinger instructs: "After applying mascara with the brush that comes in the tube, apply product to your fan brush by swiping it directly onto the mascara brush. You don't need a lot: Make sure the product isn't too thick. Lay the brush flatly along the lashline, as close to the root as possible, and simply paint outward."

Makeup artist (and R29 BFF) James Vincent explains that the fan brush has a rich history. "The fan brush is the traditional method for applying mascara. Before wands existed, this is how artists in Old Hollywood, like Max Factor and the Westmores, worked. The fan allows complete control and lets each lash grab and hold color."
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Photo: Via By Terry.
Throw Some Shade
For a sneaky way to add extra dimension, Halperin says she likes to coat lashes with two shades — deep-black and chocolate-brown. "If I want a more natural look, I will coat the top in black-brown and the bottom lashes just in brown." The more distinct the contrast, the more dramatic the effect.

Makeup artist Molly R. Stern is also a fan of the two-color approach. She first applies the darker shade all over the lashes, and then uses the tip of the wand to paint vertical "highlights" with the lighter one. Then, she takes a clean mascara brush and runs it through the still-wet lashes to blend the color.

"Just as highlights do for hair, this creates dimension and extra fullness," Stern explains. "It adds a level of depth and makes the lashes look way more dynamic than a simple swipe." If you're game for a more interesting look, she suggests adding forest-green, burgundy, or purple highlights to a black or brown base.
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Photo: Via Tarte.
Be Smooth
Trying to get the best of both worlds — voluminous lashes that also look defined — is a tricky endeavor that has defeated many an aspiring lash master. They're either never full enough or you have to deal with the dreaded spider lashes. Makeup artists to the rescue!

"I love a volumizing mascara, but sometimes they can be tricky to navigate without looking like a bad version of Tammy Faye Bakker (bless her makeup-loving soul)," says Mellinger. "My suggestion? Use a clean spoolie brush to bring definition. It's less threatening than an eyelash comb and more effective, because you can spin it around at will."

Mellinger says you can either buy disposable spoolies or, better yet, "Do the environment a solid and reuse an old mascara-tube wand by thoroughly washing it with soap and water." She instructs: "After applying a coat of mascara, use the clean spoolie brush to comb through the lashes to define and separate...Repeat until the desired effect is achieved. I find that combing from both the top and the bottom of the lash helps. Plus, you can spin the brush while combing to remove excess product."

She says this is the closest you can get to false lashes without actually using them. "You get volume and definition, but you don't have to mess with any glue. It's a small extra step, but it saves you time and energy in the long run."
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Photo: Via Eyeko.
Comb It Out
For a more advanced method, makeup artist Mai Quynh says she's a big believer in using a metal lash comb. "[It] will help you avoid clumpy lashes," she says. "Your lashes will be thicker and longer, but natural-looking. I think it makes your lashes 'fan' out."

Quynh advises using the comb after applying each coat, while it's still wet. "If you wait too long, it may cause flaking or the mascara may dry clumpy." The mascara you use also has a big effect on the success of this trick. "I love Eyeko Black Magic Mascara," she says. "The brush is full, so it coats the lashes without making them too clumpy or adding too much product. Running the lash comb through this mascara is also great, because it doesn't flake."
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Photo: Via Dior.
Let Your Mascaras Mingle
One of the most frustrating things about mascara is that you have to choose between a fluttery, inky lash and one that has staying power, says makeup artist Kirin Bhatty. While waterproof formulas stay in place, they don't allow the same curl, feathery softness, and color payoff as non-waterproof ones. Her solution: Use 'em both.

"One of my favorite mascara hacks is using two different formulas, with two different brushes on top and bottom lashes, to create a dramatic, but also smudge-proof effect," she says. "I start by using a waterproof mascara on the bottom lashes. I like Chanel's Inimitable, because the brush is great for separating lashes and helping keep those bottom lashes nice and defined. I find that since those lashes are basically resting above your undereyes, as the day goes on and your makeup begins to move...the smudginess and fallout can exaggerate dark circles."

"I follow with a generous coat of DiorShow Iconic Overcurl mascara on the top lashes only. The brush is curved, but still big and powerful enough to really coat and curl — it's inky-black and a bit smudgy, so there's a lot of give. Start from the root, and wiggle the brush through. I pay extra attention to those outer corners in order to get a fluttery-lash effect. I then seal the look with another coat, but this time with the Chanel waterproof."
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Photo: Via Lancôme.
Mix It Up
Vincent is also a fan of the two-formula trick, but he prefers to mix lengthening and thickening for maximum impact. "Start with the thickening mascara, and brush it through the top and bottom lashes," he says. "Brush up, brush down, then brush across the lashes. Next, take your lengthening mascara in the same shade or darker, and brush it up through the lash only in the center. Add another coat to the center if you want more wow."

He says this gives lashes focus and purpose. "Making lashes longer in the center will make the eye appear more open, while the thickening mascara all around the lash adds in needed definition."
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