Mascara is one of the most popular beauty products around. A single swipe opens your eyes, faking the appearance of eight hours of sleep in a matter of minutes; however, as magical as mascara may be, it’s also one of the easiest steps of your routine to mess up. When that happens, what should leave you looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed winds up clumping, flaking, or dripping down your face, effectively turning you into a sad prom queen.
While the application process may seem as simple as flicking your lashes with a wand, Tanya Deemer, a makeup artist and educator, sees people (particularly beginners) making the same mascara mistakes over and over again. “If mascara is applied improperly, the curl in the lash will droop and the lashes could clump together instead of forming a beautiful fan shape,” she says. Below, she shares the three biggest pitfalls that mess with people’s mascara routines and weighs in on exactly what you can do to fix them.
1. Skipping the eyelash curler
While starting your mascara routine with lash curler may seem like an unnecessary first step, Deemer deems it a non-negotiable. “Without curling the lashes before application, the uplifted appearance will disappear as the mascara dries,” she says. Rest the pad of the curler’s top bar as close to the root of your eyelid as possible, clamp it down hard, and pump three to four times. This way, your lashes will be primed and ready for whatever product you choose to apply next.
2. Doing one eye at a time
The key to getting it right with mascara lies almost exclusively in your timing. You want to let each coat dry slightly, but not completely, before layering on more, which means you want to alternate between your eyes when applying product. “The correct application method consists of building the layers while moving back and forth between the eyes,” says Deemer. “While doing this, it’s helpful to slightly wiggle the mascara wand back and forth near the base of the lash line so you can pick up the tiny shorter lashes, as well.”
3. Putting too much product on the wand
When applying mascara, you’ll want to put the Goldilocks principle into play and make sure the amount you’re using is just right. “Too much product on the wand results in too thick of a layer and looks very clumpy, and too thick of a layer results in heavy, saggy, or straight lashes,” says Deemer. After you dip the wand into the tube, brush off any excess pigment onto the side of the tube, and apply one coat at a time. Again, let the mascara dry slightly (but not completely) before slicking on a second coat, and if your lashes still aren’t fluffed to your liking, go ahead and add a third. For a product that makes this part of the process easier, Deemer suggests the Temptu Built to Lash Mascara ($24), which has a precision brush that makes it near impossible to put on too much product and also forms tube-like extensions around your lashes to make them look extra long.
Thinking about trying a natural mascara? Check out the video below to see which products in the category reign supreme.