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Your ultimate guide to choosing and applying fake eyelashes

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False lashes are to makeup routines what creamers are to coffee. You don’t necessarily need them, but once you find the right one, you’ll likely be hooked. Whether you’re donning a simple, everyday look or getting creative for Halloween, false lashes can add a hint of definition for a more natural look or give the appearance of major volume and length to lashes lacking it.

But with the slew of false eyelash styles and materials available, what should be a fun jaunt through the makeup aisle can become a daunting task. To get some answers, we reached out to Tasha Reiko Brown, a Los Angeles-based professional makeup artist, for her advice on everything from how to choose them to how to remove them. So, grab your falsies and take notes.

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How to choose the best fake eyelashes for you

First things first on your quest to become an eyelash master: Identify what style you’re after. While you can let your eye shape determine your lash style, Brown suggests choosing a lash style according to your desired result instead.

For example, “to open up the eyes, pick lashes that have length in the middle,” she says, meaning they start short in the inner corner, get longer, then shorten back up toward the outer corner. MAC’s 35 False Lash follow this structure to draw attention to the center of the eyes, where the longest pieces of the lash are, for some eye-opening volume.

If your look calls for a more Marilyn Monroe-esque lash, choose a pair with more length toward the ends by the outer corners of the eye to create a cat-eye effect. The Kristy Faux Lashes from Thrive Causemetics do just that—they feature more length on the outer corners than the inner to deliver doe-eyed drama.

For falsies that look natural, using individual lashes rather than a strip style is the ticket. “For believable fullness, try a few individual lashes placed among your natural lashes.” The trick is that you’ll want to alternate between longer and shorter lengths beginning at your outer edge and working your way in toward your inner corner. Try Eylure’s Individual Lash Combo, which comes with three different lengths—short, medium, and long—for optimal lash-fluffing effect.

The different types of fake eyelashes

Once you’ve nailed down your style, consider the material. Typical false eyelashes are made out of synthetic materials (i.e., plastic fibers), are designed to be single-use, and tend to have a thicker lash-line band. Though they’re a cost-effective option (often under $5), they can be difficult to apply due to their stiffer band and may feel heavier on your natural lashes than other materials. The Ardell Wispies are a cult-favorite among lash enthusiasts—they’re versatile and can be worn with a spectrum of eye looks, are perfectly uniformed, and lightweight.

Another option is lashes made from mink, which many users love because they’re lightweight, fluffy, and multi-use. That said, Brown says they’re costly and tend to be more fragile.” Even with only low repeated use, the lash band can warp and the shape changes a bit,” says Brown. These are also not vegan, if that’s important to you. “The newer synthetic dupes that mimic mink lashes, however, are very close in texture,” Brown says. “At a casual glance, you can’t tell the difference and you can get the look for a fraction of the price.” We like the Huda Beauty Faux Mink Lashes in #14 Noelle for its eye-accentuating shape and ease of application.

Then there are human hair lashes, which typically have a clear band and are a good in-between option. They’re not as fluffy as mink lashes but they’re more comfortable than synthetic lashes. Plus, they’re more wallet-friendly than mink lashes (typically under $10) and are reusable. If you’re looking for a natural false eyelash option, try House of Lashes Au Naturale—they can be reused up to 10 times and can be worn with anything from a bare eye to a smoldering smokey.

Finally, there are silk lashes. As the name implies these lashes are made of silk and are durable, comfortable, and have a semi-shiny finish. Depending on the brand, silk lashes start at about $15 and can be reused with proper care. For a multi-layered lash that’s tapered, has a flexible band, and feels lightweight, try Doe Lashes’ Silk Reusable False Eyelashes, which will last for up to 15 applications.

How to put on fake eyelashes

Learning to apply false eyelashes is right up there, intimidation-wise, with achieving a perfect winged eyeliner or a chiseled contour. But Brown says that the right adhesive could make all the difference. She suggests the dark tinted Ardell Lashtite Individual Lash Adhesive because the deep color fills in any gaps between the lash line and lash band. “As it dries, it gets deeper in color, and the deeper it gets, the tackier it gets. With repeated use, you’ll be able to tell when it turns the perfect shade of dry for you,” she says.

Before applying a strip of false lashes, coat your real lashes in mascara to help the real and fake blend better together. Then, Brown says to remove the eyelashes off of the tray and, using a pair of round tweezers or your fingers, carefully remove the existing glue that’s sitting on the lash band (this is used to hold the lashes onto the tray). With gentle hands, manipulate the lash band a bit to ensure it’ll curve to the shape of your eye. Apply a thin coat of lash glue to the lash band—do your best to apply an even layer versus large drops. “I like to put glue on the band and then wait until it’s almost completely dry before attaching it to the lash line,” says Brown. “Trying to apply lashes right after applying the glue will cause it to slide around.” (We’re only focusing on glue-on lashes, as that’s the best way to go for most people, but you can also try magnetic false eyelashes.)

Once your glue is 90% dry (this typically takes 45 seconds), it’s time to apply. You can use your fingers, a pair of tweezers, or a false eyelash applicator like Sephora Collection’s Bulls Eye Lash Applicator. No matter what you use, avoid looking straight into the mirror while applying the lashes, as Brown says your lash line will be level with the mirror and prevent you from seeing on top of it. “Instead, hold the mirror down in front of your chest so that while you’re applying the lashes, you’ll have a downcast view of your lash line,” she says. “When your eyes are down, you can simply drop the lashes down onto your lash line with ease.” Hold the lash in place until the glue is mostly dry then repeat on the other eye.

If you’re using individual lashes, some of the same rules apply. After applying mascara to your natural lashes and letting it fully dry, apply a pea-sized amount of lash glue to the back of your hand and let dry until tacky. Then, gently remove the lash from its tray, dip the end into the dollop of glue, and with your head tilted back, place the lash onto the base of your lashes (not your eyelid). If the glue is at its peak level of tackiness, you’ll be able to let it sit for a few seconds to fully dry without running the risk of it shifting.

How to fix fake eyelashes that are popping off

Brown says that if your false eyelash is popping off during the day, there are likely gaps between the glue and your lid. “This can happen if you happen to squeeze your eye shut too tight during application and the glue does not get into the folds of the lash line,” she explains. “The best option is to take off the lash and reapply, making sure not to squeeze your eye shut during application.” Needless to say, on days that false eyelashes are part of your makeup look, keep lash glue handy in your purse in case you need to reapply.

How to remove fake eyelashes

We know you’re tempted to rip off your false eyelashes after a long night, but Brown says this can be extremely damaging to the health of your natural lashes. “Glue can spread during lash application and there could be glue attached to the roots of your natural eyelashes. Tearing off your false lashes can pull your real lashes off from the root,” she warns.

“Instead, take your time removing false lashes. Using a gentle cleanser, massage the eye area gently with repeated circular motions to loosen the glue and remove the lash.” The Pixi Double Cleanse makes false eyelash removal easy—one side of the container holds a solid cleansing oil that works to break up the lash glue as well as other eye makeup while the other side contains a cleansing cream that washes away residual impurities.

For reusable lash types like mink, faux mink, silk, and human hair, you’ll know when it’s time to replace them if they lose their shape or have a build-up of glue. To make sure your lashes are clean and ready for their next use, run a rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton swab along the base and lengths of the lashes (when they’re not on your eye, of course). Use tweezers to lightly pull any remaining glue off the band and store them in a lash case (like the Morphe Lash Travel Case, which holds three lashes) to ensure they hold their shape and remain dust-free. And to extend the life of your lashes, avoid applying mascara to them.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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Linda Barbara

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