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False eyelashes: Tools, patience produce the long-lash look

By Autumn D. F. Hopkins

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- False eyelashes add a fun and dramatic pop to an evening look and can really make the eyes stand out. But getting them on correctly is not always easy.

It took me an eternity to master them. In fact, I have glued them on crooked, had them fall off into my drink, and once, unbeknownst to me, had one jump off my eyelid and attach itself to my cheek. Um, yeah, embarrassing.

So how can you put them on for that Sookie Stackhouse/baby-deer-in-the-headlights look, and not that sweet-heaven-there-is-a-tarantula-crawling-out-of-your-eyeball look?

Allow me to help. Let me share with you all the tips and tricks I've learned, over years and years of trial and error.

My opinion of the nitty-gritty application process differs, in two major ways, from that of the majority of magazine articles and makeup tutorials out there:

FIRST: I think you should apply your eyeliner before you apply the eyelashes. Good eyelash glue dries clear, so your eyeliner will show underneath. I have never had a problem with adhesion with this method. Most brands say to start with a clean, dry eyelid. I disagree. If you put on your eyeliner after you glue on the lashes you end up with a visible gap between the liner and your lash line. This looks weird and screams "fake."

SECOND: I put mascara on as the last step. This bonds the false lashes to your real ones, giving you a more realistic look and it makes it easier to get the false lashes closer to the lash line because your mascara stiffens as it dries and makes it harder to get close.

Now that we've cleared up those two points, let's talk about what you need. Here are the basic tools for the eyelash application:

LASHES: Buy strip lashes. Individual lash bundles are a joke! They will give you a nervous breakdown. By the time you've dropped two of them in the sink, poked yourself in the eye with the third, and glued the fourth to the end of your nose, you will be on Prozac. They're expensive and difficult to use and, even if you are successful, you can get just as good a look from a strip.

What makes a good pair of strip lashes? Buy the ones that have spaces between the lash bundles. That space you see should be a thin, clear filament, not a black line, and there should be enough space that you can count the number of lash bundles on a strip (I will explain why this is important in a few seconds).

A decent pair of false eyelashes will cost you about $5. The same goes for a tube of glue. You can wash and reuse your lashes several times; it depends on how gentle you are when you remove them and how diligent you are about washing them.

LASH GLUE: Do not cut corners. Buy actual eyelash adhesive. This is your eyeball, people! You use a teeny-tiny amount, and as long as you remember to put the cap back on it will last for ages.

TWEEZERS: For eyelash application, I like a cheap blunt pair of tweezers that aren't going to blind me when I accidentally poke myself. You have to use tweezers to hold the lash strip and assure proper placement on the eyelid.

Q-TIP: You need a couple on hand just to clean up if you get too much glue on the strip or if you smear glue on the eyelid. It will dry clear and you can peel it off, but sometimes your eyeliner comes off with it. A Q-tip is a quick easy way to wipe off any excess.

MAKEUP AND CURLING: For the whole look, and not just the lash application, here is what you need:

  • Liquid eyeliner
  • Neutral shadow
  • Eye shadow brush
  • Mascara
  • Eyelash curler (optional)
  • Start by applying your eyeliner. I like a thick, dark line for this. You can do a thinner line, but, in my opinion, this is a dramatic eye and you need a dramatic line. Then, if you want, curl your natural lashes. I do this because later on it helps blend the natural lash with the falsies. If you're like me and your lashes grow very straight, then you need to take the extra five seconds and do this.

    Once your eyeliner is dry, apply the lashes.

    A friend of mine showed me a trick several years ago and it is golden: Cut each eyelash strip in half. You're only going to apply the strip lashes from the center of the eye to the outside corner. This gives a more natural look and it keeps you from having to remove and re-bend the eyelashes repeatedly to get the curve to match the curve of your lid. The other great part about this is that, in essence, it gives you two sets of lashes for the price of one!

    Be sure to use the matching halves from each strip. Most lash sets are mirror images of each other and gradually get longer toward the outside corners. So, if you don't use half of each lash strip, one eye will have much longer lashes than the other.

    Once you have the halves separated, test out your placement by laying the lash strip on your eyelid where you want it to go. If the curvature isn't right, gently flatten or deepen the curve with your thumbnail.

    Next, apply the glue. Be very careful. You need a tiny amount of glue, less than a drop per lash strip. I promise it is enough. If you get too much on you will make a mess, they will take forever to dry, they will slide around on your eyelid and eventually they will fall off. Use a teensy weensy amount of glue.

    Be patient! Don't get trigger-happy here. After you've applied the glue, wait at least 30 seconds. It should go from solid white to slightly translucent. Do not apply the lashes to your eyelid when the glue is too wet.

    When the glue is slightly dry, line up the lash strip as close as possible to your natural lash line and, using the tweezers, lightly press the lashes into place. Count to 20 to let them finish drying.

    Last, apply mascara. Most makeup people say this is a no-no, but I am telling you, to get the look you want this is nonnegotiable: mascara goes on last. Putting on mascara after you've applied lashes serves multiple purposes: It helps secure the falsies by bonding them to your natural lash (so if the glue pulls up, your lashes are still on) and it blends your natural lash into the falsie (so you don't have two alien rows of lashes; instead, you have one thick line).

    There you have it, false eyelashes for everyone!

    Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopkins@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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