Out of all the makeup products I’m asked to recommend, mascara comes up the most. It makes sense: Even the least enthusiastic makeup consumers wear mascara, and there are so many of them on the market, but finding one that lengthens and volumizes but doesn’t flake, smudge, clump, or irritate your eyeballs is trickier than it seems. We all want our lashes to look luscious and lifted (it’s an easy way to look instantly more awake and put-together), and while lash extensions and lifts are a way to achieve that naturally bright-eyed effect without having to apply makeup every day, they’re costly and not super convenient for everyone.
So what mascaras available these days can create a lifted, healthy lash look without it seeming like you’re wearing a ton of makeup? That’s where this list comes in. Scroll along to shop my 12 favorite mascaras for faking an extension effect (plus a few mind-blowing application tips I’ve learned over the years that will seriously change your life).
If clumps of any kind drive you absolutely batty, or if you’re afraid of tugging too hard on your lashes and risking taking them out, follow this clever piece of advice I learned from celebrity makeup artist Robin Black: Find a small fan brush or lash separator brush, then swipe some mascara onto the back of your hand, dip the lash brush into the product, and carefully apply it to your lashes that way. Fun fact: This is how women applied mascara for decades and decades until the modern mascara tube was invented.
I learned this from a fellow beauty editor a few years ago, and my brain exploded on the spot: An instant way to make your lashes look twice as full is to apply your mascara not only to the underside of your lashes as you normally do but also to the topside. In other words, take the lash applicator of your choosing and brush product on top of your upper lashes after your regular application on the underside. You’ll be stunned at what a difference in volume you’ll find.
Here’s a trick I learned on YouTube: To make your lashes look thick and long, but not chunky and covered in product, apply thicker globs of product on the very tips of your lashes, then with a separate spoolie or brush (or a side of the mascara applicator that isn’t covered in product) brush your lashes from the base upward. We normally apply the most product to the base of our lashes, which makes them look weighed-down and shorter. By having a lighter base and thicker tips, you’ll ool everyone into thinking your lashes are several millimeters longer.