Luscious, curly eyelashes will always be my greatest beauty desire, simply because I do not have them. My eyelashes are so straight that if I photographed my eyes straight-on, without mascara, you wouldn’t even be able to see them. Need a miniature, straight-edge ruler? Here, have one of my eyelashes.
My obsession with having voluminous, curled lashes – which stay that way – has led me on a journey full of twists, turns, and heartfelt disappointments.
Okay, so in a less dramatic reality, I spent a bunch of money on mascaras and hung out in front of my mirror an awful lot, but finally, I’ve cracked the great Curly Eyelash Code. Let me share my secrets with you.
The only mascaras which keep my eyelashes looking fluttery and curly (after I’ve used an eyelash curler, of course) are waterproof mascaras. It’s kind of like hairspray for my eyelashes, in that the curl will last all day. Other mascaras cause my eyelashes to flop back to their stick-straight status.
With waterproof mascara I get all the volumising, lengthening and darkening benefits, plus the curl is held, and I can still use my eye drops. It’s a win all around.
Here’s my pick of the mascaras that will aggressively hold onto a curl.
(Please note that I have teeny, tiny straight lashes, so while it might not look like it in the photos, the mascaras make a huge difference. Without the mascara and eyelash curler, you wouldn't even see my eyelashes.)
1. Max Factor 2000 Calorie Volume Mascara ($20.95), and Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara ($25.95), both in waterproof.
For many years, I would only use Max Factor mascara, because it delivers lush, ultra-black and non-smudging eyelashes while also freezing a curl. It would be perfect if the False Lash Effect formula – which creates thick, dramatic and curled eyelashes – could be combined with the 2000 Calorie Volume straight bristle brush. I’ve found that the False Lash Effect brush is a bit too chunky and rubbery for my needs.
2. Benefit Bad Gal Lash Waterproof Mascara, $38
A cult favourite, the Bad Gal Lash formula can quickly build up into thick, rock’n’roll eyelashes with a few swipes of the mascara wand. Speaking of, the wand is an old-school bristle brush with a slightly concave curve in the centre, which I love. Best of all, it holds a curl while still creating velvety-black volume.
3. Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express Mascara, $19.95
This mascara is my current favourite. It’s one of those rare mascaras which actually lives up to the hype; and when that hype says, “300% more visible, fuller lashes, no gaps from any angle” you know you’re dealing with something magical. Makeup artist Wayne Goss says it’s one of the few “false lash” mascaras that actually gives the impression of wearing false eyelashes.
My technique involves a lot of eyelash curling. Are you ready to create thick, curled lashes? I thought so. Chant after me: curl, mascara, curl, mascara, curl. Got it?
Step 1: Curl your eyelashes.
I alternate between the Manicare Eyelash Curler ($12.49) for a dramatic curl, and the Shu Uemera Eyelash Curler for a more subtle, natural look. For each eye, I press the curler down gently for about 10 seconds or less.
Note: Eyelash perms can create a curl which lasts a few months, but I don’t recommend it, simply because it’s very hit-or-miss. The last time I had my eyelashes permed, the curl was so exaggerated my eyelashes curled back on themselves, which made them look even shorter. Another time, a few rogue eyelashes remained straight, which just looked awkward. I’m also not a fan of the chemicals used to create and set the curl, especially because it always gets in my eyes, and it always stings.
Step 2: Use a waterproof mascara.
I apply a single coat of mascara, in one sweep, from the roots of my eyelashes to the tips.
Step 3. Curl your eyelashes again, but be extremely careful and gentle.
This breaks all the beauty rules – what, curling your lashes after mascara? Mon dieu! But, if you have a careful and steady hand, you’ve got this, girl.
Curl your eyelashes again, but only for about 1 second this time. Make sure that the eyelash curler is relatively clean, because your eyelashes can stick to any old mascara which may be gunked up in there. Open the eyelash curler as gently and slowly as you can.
Set off your curled eyelashes with celebrity-inspired brows...(Post continues after gallery)
Step 4. Add another coat of mascara, and no more.
I add a final coat of mascara, to “set” the curl. Be restrained with this. If you keep loading up on mascara, it will cause the eyelashes to get too heavy and then flop down to being straight and boring again.
Step 5. Curl your eyelashes, baby one more time.
If you’re game, you can give each eye a quick clamp again with the eyelash curler, to really make the curl obvious and as lasting as possible.
Et voila! Now, go and bat your eyelashes at your next unsuspecting victim. You’re welcome!
Disclaimer: The above eyelash curling technique is a DIY technique, which should be used with due common sense and caution.
Do you have any secrets for curling eyelashes? Share all your mascara favourites and secrets in the comments.