How to Put Mascara On

applying mascara

When you learn how to put mascara on, you're doing a great favor for your eyes. Mascara is the finishing touch to any eye makeup look and brings instant drama to your eyes. Not all mascara is created equal, so decide what your lashes need (volume, length, just some color, or all of the above) so that you won't be disappointed by the results when you learn how to apply it.

Steps for Putting Mascara On

Coating the Wand

Once you've decided which color and type of mascara you would like to use from the collection of volumizers, lengtheners, natural tints, waterproof formulas, and washable formulas available, it's time to coat the wand.

  • Proper coating method: Start by simply rotating the wand inside of the tube to evenly coat the bristles with the product. If you need more mascara after coating the lashes on one eye or you wish to go back for a second coat, insert the wand once, roll it around again, and reload the brush.
  • Avoid pumping the mascara wand in and out of the tube. You'll shorten the life of your mascara by adding unnecessary bursts of air to the tube. The air will cause the mascara to dry out quickly, leaving you spending more money on new tubes and getting clumpy lashes in the meantime. Pumping also encourages bacteria to grow in your tube of mascara.

Before you apply mascara, you may also want to curl your lashes beforehand, though that isn't necessary.

Top Lash Application

Start by holding the wand horizontally along the underside of the lashes, at the roots.

  1. Wiggle the wand back and forth to really coat the roots and give the look of fuller lashes.
  2. Drag the wand through to the tips of the lashes and go through again until the desired effect is achieved.
  3. For extra drama, you can also coat the tops of the lashes. Start from the bottom and then do the same roots to tips method on the tops of the lashes.
  4. Go from the underside once more to keep the lashes from drooping.

Putting Mascara on Lower Lashes

To apply to the lower lashes:

  • You can hold the wand horizontally, though that may cause you to smudge mascara onto your skin unless your lashes are very thick.
  • Another method is to hold the wand vertically and lightly glide the wand down the lengths of the lashes in short, downward motions, working from one side to the other. If you're going for a natural everyday look, you may want to skip the lower lashes completely.

Dual-ended Mascaras

mascara applied with traditional brush

Some mascaras come with a primer on one end and the colored formula on the other. These are just as easy to use as regular mascara, though they take another minute or so to apply.

  1. First, apply the primer to the lashes on one eye.
  2. Then follow up with the mascara.
  3. Follow with the second eye.

In most cases, this is the most effective way to apply primer and mascara combinations, though some formulas work best if you allow the primer to dry first. If you try applying mascara directly over wet primer and end up with grayish lashes, try letting the primer dry before applying the black or brown mascara.

Mascara primers fatten up the lashes and add a little length before the color is ever introduced. It can also ensure that your mascara stays on longer, rather than wearing off or flaking and falling down onto your cheeks.

Brush Types


These are the mascara wands with softer bristles. They're not quite as spiky as the plastic ones, and they're often packed tightly together. They can come in several widths, from the large brush of Diorshow and L'Oreal Voluminous to the smaller one in Maybelline Great Lash. These can deposit quite a bit of product at once, and are often used with volumizing and lengthening formulas.

Plastic and Spiky

Trending through the 2000s are the spiky, plastic brushes found in formulas like CoverGirl LashBlast. Formulas tend to be thinner when paired with these brushes. Although some of the mascaras are designed to be volumizing and lengthening, just like the ones with traditional wands, the thin plastic bristles tend to separate the lashes a bit more.

Sizes vary here, as well, and some wands and brushes in this category are flexible while others remain rigid. Flexible versus rigid wands are simply a matter of preference; some feel they have more control and get a better coating for their lashes if they use flexible wands while others feel they're messy, flinging mascara to the wrong areas of the face.

A Ball

The difference here is in the size and shape of the brush. Instead of being long enough to coat the underside of the lashes all at once, for example, the ball is smaller and allows for more control.

Application takes longer because it covers fewer lashes at once, but if you typically make a mess with the longer brushes, it could still save you time in the long run if you're not having to clean up stray mascara smudges. It can also be easier to reach the inner corners, undersides, and lower lashes with this type of wand. One example is Givenchy Phenom'Eyes.

Curved and Curvy

Curved mascara brushes have been around for decades, as a sort of built-in lifting and curling method. Another type of brush is merely "curvy" with some areas that are wider than others along the length of the brush.

This one is also designed to add curl to the lashes, but often claim to separate them as well. Two examples include L'oreal Paris Curvy Brush Mascara (traditional bristles) and Rimmel Scandaleyes Rockin' Curves (plastic bristles).

When One Coat Isn't Enough

If you like drama, one coat probably will not be enough for your lashes. You'll want a second and perhaps even a third. The key to applying multiple coats of mascara is to never let one coat dry before applying the next. Applying wet mascara to already dry lashes will result in flaking and the dreaded "spider legs" appearance.

If there's a volumizing mascara you love and a lengthening you love as well, try doing one coat of each for the perfect, flirty lashes you're hoping for. People might not even believe they're real.

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