How to Get a Lash Extension Effect with Just Mascara (And Five Minutes)

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Asking me how many coats of mascara I have on to achieve my lush, lash extension-like lashes is like inquiring about the number of sips of water I've taken today. There's no need to count these essential parts of our lives, people.

I can't even come up with a rough estimate if I tried. Once I get into a rhythm with a mascara wand in my hand, I can't stop. A whole song will play and my focus will still be on finessing my lashes. The mascara is not at fault, though. I don't need an innumerable amount of coats. I take full responsibility for wanting to avoid falsies, lash lifts, and the like.

As I swipe away, I'm not just doing so willy-nilly. Over the past three years, I've perfected a specific application technique for maximum lash results. A certain mascara formula and at least the length of Zico's "Any Song" (precisely four minutes and seven seconds) is required to complete it.

At times, I fall into the lengthy technique's trap for meditative purposes. While going through the motions, I swear I think about nothing except for the words of the song playing and ensuring my lashes look as curled, voluminous, and long as I can possibly make them with mascara alone. Now that we have nothing but time and don't have access to our favorite in-salon lash treatments, it seems to be a good time to share the process.

The key to this whole process is a mascara formula that runs on the drier side. Wetter formulas get clumpy and stiff easily. Some of my favorites at the moment are Maybelline New York The Falsies Lash Lift Mascara and Nars Climax Mascara.

To clean up smudges, I reach for the Huda Beauty Smoke & Smudge Dual-Ended Eyeshadow Shader Brush

I kick things off by sweeping the wand upward from the roots of my lashes to the ends with a feather-light touch. Not putting the typical amount of pressure onto the wand reduces clumping. These first couple of coats are like a primer to help initially extend lashes with a thin, even coating.

To make sure every lash is accounted for, the soft sweeps are concentrated on the center first before focusing on each side.

Next, I push up my lashes with only the tip of the brush. With the same gentle touch as the first step, I work in tiny sections across my lash line to help curl and separate my lashes. As I do this, I make sure to coat the lashes at the very inner and outer corners of my eyes.

Now, I do the classic sweep through my lashes with the regular amount of pressure that I assume the average person uses. Before I start, though, I kind of tuck the brush under the roots of my lashes to help stamp the pigment onto my lash line and create the illusion of fuller lashes. Then, I roll the brush as I pull it to the ends of my lashes and close my eyes as I do so my lid presses down on the brush and pushes pigment onto every lash.

My bottom lashes are extremely fine, so I have to handle them with care to avoid getting mascara all over my undereyes. I only touch the bristles to them ever so slightly and give it a slight wiggle before dragging downward.

A second song probably has started to play at this point. I'll alternate between all those wand movements until I'm satisfied with the way my lashes look. If you aren't tracking, you can see the process in action below.

No matter how hard I try to avoid them, specks of mascara always get on my lids, undereyes, and — somehow — the bridge of my nose, so I clean up my eye area with the aforementioned Huda Beauty Smoke & Smudge Dual-Ended Eyeshadow Shader Brush. Concealer usually creases up on my lids and undereye area, so I take the larger side to wipe away the excess product and use what the brush catches to remove the mascara smudges on my nose and lids. The smaller side is just the right size to reach the stray pigment below my lower lashes.

  • The Best New Mascaras of 2020 for Longer, Thicker Lashes
  • The 11 Best Waterproof Mascaras, According to Makeup Artists
  • The 18 Best Mascaras for Gorgeous Lashes, According to ishonest Editors

Now, get a behind-the-scenes look at Lili Reinhart's cover shoot:

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