Marvelous Mascara

Mascara Basics

Mascara is an amazing invention and is considered fundamental to any kind of makeup application. Many makeup artists, including myself, say that if you're not wearing any other makeup but still want to wear something, wear mascara. On the other hand, many of us — and I'm guilty of this too — get carried away and wear way too much mascara.

Unfortunately, applying too much mascara increases the chances that the mascara will flake, chip or smear, and that the lashes will appear hard and spiked. Also, the eyelashes can take only so much weight, and excess weight can break them. Gunked-up lashes with tons of mascara do not resemble long, thick lashes — they resemble gunked-up lashes.


The desire for longer, more noticeable lashes inspires many women to use the device that curls the lashes by squeezing them into a bent-upward shape. The problem with lash curlers is that they can crimp lashes into a severe angle, which looks unnatural, and while it may make lashes more noticeable, it can also break and pull them out. If you still want to curl your lashes, only do so before you apply mascara, never after, or you will end up with broken or strangely bent lashes. The best lash curlers are the ones with a sponge tip to protect your eyelashes. Squeeze gently with even pressure. Hold for a few seconds and release slowly.


Types of Mascara

Mascara comes in two basic types: waterproof and water-soluble. Mascaras should not smudge, flake or clump. It is not your fault if they do. Price does not tell you anything about how a mascara will perform. Drugstore mascaras can be as good as any on the market, and sometimes even better.

Water-soluble mascaras: The problem with some water-soluble mascaras is that they don't come off easily with water, even though they should. Luckily, there are great water-soluble mascaras that build long, thick lashes without clumping or flaking and that come off with a water-soluble cleanser. I recommend many excellent mascaras in a variety of price ranges in my book Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me.


Waterproof mascaras: These can be problematic, because in order to remove this type of mascara you must pull and wipe around the eye area. This, in turn, sags the skin and causes lashes to fall out. I understand the desire to go swimming while wearing your makeup, or to cry at weddings and not have mascara streaming down your cheeks. Waterproof mascara is fine for occasional use, but wearing it every day can cause more headaches in the long run. Another drawback is that most waterproof mascaras can break down and smear due to oil from your skin or emollients in your moisturizer or foundation. Do not make the mistake of thinking that waterproof means smear-proof.

Applying Mascara

Start by applying mascara to the lower lashes by holding the wand perpendicular to the eye and parallel to the lashes. Combine this technique with the traditional upper-lash application of brushing the mascara wand from the base of the lashes up. Keep an old, clean mascara wand in your makeup bag to be used for removing mascara clumps and separating lashes.

Have you ever had mascara end up on the eyelid or under the eye while you're applying it? Wait until it dries completely and then chip it away with a cotton swab or your sponge. Most of it will just flake off, with very little repair work needed. Always check for mascara smudges; they can look sloppy and distracting.

Mascara Mistakes to Avoid

  • Do not wear colored mascara such as blue, purple or green if you're going for a professional daytime look.
  • Do not wear mascara that smears; there are lots of brands that don't.
  • Do not use waterproof mascaras on a daily basis; they are too difficult to remove and too hard on your lashes.
  • Do not forget to apply mascara evenly to lower lashes.
  • Do not over-apply mascara; your lashes will look clumpy.

This article is an excerpt from Paula's web site,