Mascara is the equivalent to water for beauty mavens–even those of us who prefer a natural look think of it as the number one (and sometimes only) cosmetic needed to open our eyes and make us look alive and healthy. Outside of lipstick, it’s also the easiest cosmetic to apply–it doesn’t require the contouring skills of a Kardashian, nor do you need to know your exact eye shape or own a hundred brushes that each perform a separate function. Pick your poison: black, brown, or a fun color, choose the wand of your desires, and spend about 20 seconds each morning lengthening and thickening your lashes. The voila!–instant glamour.
Oh, if only it were that easy. In reality, a lot can go wrong with mascara. It can clump. Gunk up your lashes. And, worst of all, accidentally end up all over your eyelids –the eyelids you just spent 30 minutes highlighting and contouring with four eye shadow shades.
Never fear: a few tricks of the trade will stop you from making a big mess the next time you have five good minutes to turn yourself into a goddess before the next train departs.
1. Use a business or playing card. Cards aren’t just for fun. Lori Lieb of Bodyography suggesting holding a card horizontally down over the lid onto the base of the top lashes. Do the same for the bottom lashes and press it under the lash curve at the base of the lashes, resting it lightly on the cheek. “This stops the mascara from ruining your beautiful eye look,” Lieb says. “Similarly you can use a wedge sponge for this method as well. ”
2. Substitute your mascara wand with a fan brush. “Another trick that many makeup artists use is to apply mascara with a small, and I mean tiny, fan brush,” Lieb says. “Just rub your mascara wand across the fan brush to deposit product and use the brush to apply. It is so precise it is almost foolproof and gets right between the lashes for extra fullness.”
3. Use a small angled liner brush. Wedding makeup and hair artist Molly Leahy at Blushing Brides recommends dipping a small angled liner brush into either your mascara tube or black gel liner and brushing it onto the tops of your lashes right by the roots. “This process will give you great control over where you put the product without having a bulky mascara wand so close to your eye,” Leahy says. “Then you can finish off the ends of your lashes with your regular mascara wand. I find that this tip works amazing for people who have very light eyelashes naturally and usually don’t think they can wear mascara.”
4. Tape it. “Take a piece of tape, press it on your pants a couple of times to remove most of the stickiness and then place it on your eyelid where your lashes are,” Leahy says. “Any mascara that wanders will hit the tape and then you can just remove the tape at the end with all of the mascara on it.” The one caveat to this trick: you must apply the tape BEFORE your eye shadow or, you guessed it, you run the risk of removing ALL of your eye makeup.
5. Position yourself properly. How many of us apply mascara while staring straight on into the mirror? This is the exact opposite of what we should be doing if we want to avoid a mascara mess. “Tilt your head back when applying your mascara so if the wand does go up too far it will hit air not your face,” Leahy says. “On the other side, you should be tilting your head forward when applying mascara to the bottom lashes.”
6. Don’t remove wet mascara. If you’ve tried every trick imaginable, but still get mascara on your lid, the best thing you can do is NOT rub it off immediately, Lieb says. “Wait till it dries, grab a cotton swap, and it will just flake off, not making a mess at all!”
For more beauty tips, check out the correct order to apply your makeup and the 10 most popular nail polish shades around the country.