All About Lashes

Here’s how to make the most of what nature gave you with the right mascara, or even a little faux embellishment

Magic Wands: Making the Most of Mascara

Mascara lovers everywhere have T.L. Williams to thank for their favourite lash-enhancer. Inspired by the coal-blackened Vaseline his sister Maybel applied to her lashes, Williams created the first commercial mascara in 1915 and named his new company Maybelline (perhaps you’ve heard of it?). Today, the product is indispensable for many; according to The NPD Group, annual mascara sales recently reached $54 million in Canada. With high-tech brushes and formulas pushing the category forward, we asked Grace Lee, lead makeup artist for Maybelline New York Canada, how to choose the right wand for your desired look.


Since we all want different things from our mascaras—lengthening, volumizing, curl-enhancing, subtle definition or maximum impact—the one your best friend swears by might not make your hit list. To get a sense of the end result, look at the brush design, advises Lee: “There are two basic types: bristle brushes, which have synthetic fibres like nylon twisting around a wire, and plastic brushes, which can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes.” To amp up volume, Lee recommends a large, dense-bristle brush, which will deposit a lot of product onto the lashes. For clump-free separation, she prefers a plastic brush: “These have become very popular lately as brands can easily control the space between each bristle, engineering them to capture every single little lash.” If it’s Bambi eyes you’re craving, Lee suggests looking for a fibre-enhanced mascara to “add length in a matter of strokes.” 


First, curl your lashes before swiping on mascara to maximize the eye-opening effect. Next, when she’s doing her own makeup, Lee looks down into a vanity mirror before positioning the brush: “Get the wand right into the roots of the lashes and then wiggle outwards to get all of the little hairs in the inner and outer corners of the eyes.” When applying mascara to someone else, Lee gets them to keep their eyes open while they’re looking down, which allows her to lift their lid slightly to get the brush right into the roots. For serious lash magic, she recommends layering different mascara formulas, like one for volume and one for length, but warns against putting on too much product: “You don’t want your lashes to look spidery!” 

Fake It Till You Make It: Mastering False Lashes

An invention from Hollywood’s golden age, false lashes were created to make actresses’ eyes stand out on film. They may not be practical for everyday, but these little helpers aren’t limited to starlets anymore, and according to Sasha Stimler, makeup artist and trainer for Shu Uemura, they’re easier to apply than you might think. 


Falsies come in either individual lashes (actually small clusters of hair sewn together), or in strip lashes of varying lengths, styles and colours. They’re typically made from one of three materials: natural hair, synthetic fibres and even mink fur. If you’re hoping to achieve a more subtle look, Stimler advises using individual or strip lashes done with natural hair. “Choose something shorter in length, preferably a blend of black and brown hairs, which will appear softer and blend in with your own lashes.” If you’re looking for major drama, you can try a dark, synthetic strip lash with lots of curl, which will have an intense glossy finish. 


If you’re using a strip, compare it against your lash line first to make sure that it will fit—trim a bit off the end if needed. To easily apply the right amount of glue, dispense some onto a palette or onto the back of your hand, then dip the end of a small makeup brush handle into the glue before “painting” it along the strip or onto the individual lashes. Once the adhesive is on, wait at least a minute for it to get tacky. “You want it to look almost transparent—this will stop it from sliding around once you’ve placed it,” says Stimler. When putting falsies on yourself, she recommends trying a lash applicator, a tool resembling a cross between tweezers and a clamp, to easily hold and place the lashes. “Using your hands can block your vision, and tweezers can be dangerous around the eyes.” After a good coat of mascara, “hold the strip from each corner, tilt your head back, and apply the lashes—centering them with your eye—right to the lash line. Then use your curler to adhere your own lash to the falsies.” It might be tempting, but do not close your eyes when applying lashes—unless you want to risk gluing them shut. If you’re putting the lashes on someone else, “have them look down without closing their eyes to stretch the lid for a smoother surface.” Once the glue is fully dry, finish with eyeliner. 


When applied properly with a quality glue, falsies can stay put for up to 24 hours, but take them off before bed “so you don’t irritate your eyes or kink the lashes.” 

Get the Look:


Photography: Getty Images (Twiggy); Anthea Simms (backstage beauty)

This article was originally published in the January/February 2015 issue of Cosmetics magazine. For more, download our iPad edition.