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Makeup Master Class: Mascara


How could you live without mascara? You shouldn’t. It’s the most important element of your eye makeup because of the definition it creates. Full, thick, dark eyelashes help open up your eyes and make you look your absolute best.

Multiple formulas will give you a variety of results. Of course, your application technique will also make a difference in your results. Choose the formula that will help you achieve the look you want.

Thickening Mascara

This mascara coats each individual lash from root to tip with particles that add bulk and help them look thick and full. It is formulated with dark pigments, thicker waxes, and silicone polymers, which are what create the density. This formula is the thickest of all formulas because the goal is to increase lash size. Yes, sometimes size really does matter!

Lengthening Mascara

This contains plastic polymers that cling to the tips of your eyelashes, making them appear longer. This formula is thinner than a thickening formula, so it will not add the bulk.

Defining Mascara

Defining mascara coats each individual lash, keeping them separated and defined. If a mascara is labeled as defining, it usually means that it does not contain any extra building particles that add bulk and length to your eyelashes; it simply coats each lash with color for subtle definition. Defining mascara usually appears the most natural.

Waterproof Mascara

When something is labelled waterproof mascara, the formula has been shown not to smudge or smear when subjected to (submerged or totally dowsed in) water or tears in tests. Most formulas of mascara are available in a waterproof formula. It’s a bit harder to remove than other formulas, so make sure you have a good eye-makeup remover for cleansing.

Water-resistant Mascara

Water-resistant mascara will hinder smearing and smudging, but not as fully as waterproof formulas. It resists rather than entirely preventing the penetration of water, while being easier to remove than waterproof.

Curling Mascara

This mascara is supposed to help curl your eyelashes as you apply it. The theory is that they contain polymers that contract (shrink) once applied, causing your eyelashes to curl and lift. I have not found these mascaras to do enough curling to get the benefits you need and prevent you from needing to use an eyelash curler.

Choosing a Mascara Wand

The bristles and shape of your mascara wand can affect your results just as much as your mascara’s formula and your application technique. There are a ton of wand options out there today—everything from a rubber brush to a comb. Let’s discuss just a few key things to consider when deciding what you want and need from your brush or applicator. But keep in mind that, with any wand, you still ultimately have control of your finished look because it depends on the application technique you choose. (We will discuss that another time.)

• A wand that has long, fat, full, thick, dense bristles will help thicken and lengthen your eyelashes as you apply your mascara because it will coat each lash with product.

• A wand with short, dense bristles (it might even resemble a screw) will help define your eyelashes because it allows you to coat each lash with a nice thin coat of product from the root to the tip.

• A wand with bristles that taper from short at the tip to longer in the middle or base (it might also taper from thin to thick to thin, like a football), will define, thicken, and lengthen. It enables you to do detailed defining work with the tip (where the tip bristles are shorter), while giving you volume and length from the bristles in the middle (where the bristles are longer and fuller).

• A wand with rubber, widely spaced bristles will define and separate your eyelashes, giving you a thin, even coating on every lash.

• A wand shaped like a comb will define and separate each lash. It will give you a thin coat of product while combing and separating each lash, eliminating clumping and preventing eyelashes from getting stuck together.

tip: It’s always better to apply multiple thin coats of mascara rather than one thick, clumpy coat.

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