Give these tips a try for clump-free, lifted, defined eyelashes.

How to Apply Mascara — 5 Foolproof Tips

How to Apply Mascara Without Clumps

If there’s one makeup item you wear every day, it’s probably mascara. I have friends who aren’t the slightest bit interested in makeup and go bare-faced daily, but won’t step out of the house without mascara on. It defines and opens the eyes and doesn’t look out of place on an otherwise natural face, so it’s good to know how to apply mascara.

For so many women, putting mascara on is almost robotic — just an essential part of your morning routine. You unscrew the cap, tilt back your head, swipe the wand over your eyelashes while inevitably opening your mouth in some kind of weird unavoidable reflex… And it’s a simple task, right?

Well, it turns out there is a right way, and a lot of wrong ways, to put on mascara. Or to put it more kindly, there are good ways and then there are great ways. So if you’re struggling with clumps of mascara, or just disappointed that your mascara isn’t giving you the 400 times length and volume that it promises, try these tips on for size.

It’s all simple, no extra products required — just a few strategies and tools borrowed from the pros to get flawless length, definition and volume every time.

How to Apply Mascara: Start With a Clean Slate

You get home from work, take off your bra, get comfy… and by the time you’re going to bed the last thing you want to do is stand in front of the mirror and go through a multi-step skincare process. It’s a challenge, I know. But most gals out there aren’t removing their makeup as thoroughly as they should be. The tell-tale signs are when you wake up in the morning with dark smudges around your eyes — or on your pillow.

I promise that making sure you get all your mascara off before you put any more on will make a huge difference in how it applies, and how it looks. After all, mascara is designed to bind to eyelashes, not to itself — that’s how you get clumps!

When it comes to knowing how to apply mascara, it’s also good to invest in a separate eye makeup remover (and using it) will make the world of difference in how your mascara applies each morning. Many brands sell eye makeup remover wipes, specially formulated to get every last trace of mascara from your lashes.

Curl First

This is an essential step for how to apply mascara. Eyelash curlers are intimidating-looking devices. When I got my first eyelash curlers, I had them for about six months before I was brave enough to use them on myself. They really are foolproof, though — the shape mirrors the shape of your eyelid so there’s no way to use it wrong.

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Make sure you get all your eyelashes in the curler — it can take a little wiggling to make sure they’re all in, or you might like to make two passes on each eye to get all your lashes curled. The effect of curling the very outer lashes, in particular, can’t be overstated. It elongates and lifts the eye, so you’ll always look fresh and awake, and avoids getting mascara smudged in that outer corner.

Hold the curler closed for at least ten seconds, to really compress the curl into your lashes. Mascara will lock a curl in place, but it can’t curl from nothing. And you don’t want to curl after you’ve applied mascara, as it can pull the lashes out.

Open a New Tube

The recommendation that you replace your tube of mascara every 3–6 months isn’t just so that the company can take your money. Beyond avoiding your mascara tube becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, there’s a visible benefit to keeping your mascara fresh.

The longer your mascara tube is around, the more the formula dries out. A drier formula is harder to transfer from wand to lash, and forms into clumps rather than coating each eyelash evenly.

Wiggle From Root to Tip

Note that I said wiggle, not zig-zag wildly. Wiggling the brush into the base of your lashes makes sure they get coated in mascara all the way to the root. As well as imparting a more even colour (especially important if you have fair lashes) this defines the eye really successfully. Makeup artists use this tip to give the illusion of a lined eye without needing to apply any eyeliner.

Getting your mascara right into the root of the lashes will also hold your curl right from the base, so it lasts all day.

Comb Them Through

If you do find yourself with mascara clumps, it’s not the end of the world, and you can certainly fix it up without starting over. The biggest mistake here is trying to break those clumps up with your mascara wand — you’re just adding product and making them worse! Instead, use a tool without any product on it to break up the clump and separate the lashes. You can buy special lash combs for this purpose (I like the ones with fine metal teeth, rather than plastic ones) or you can simply rinse off an old mascara wand and keep that around.

Give these tips a try next time you put on mascara and see how you end up — I think you’ll be pleased how your clump-free, lifted, defined eyelashes look.