5 Mascara Hacks To Save Money, Prevent Clumps, & Score Huge Lashes

by Kim Carpluk
Kim Carpluk

Mascara is the most important makeup step. It can literally open up your eyes. But ask any beauty lover about their mascara woes, and you're bound to get a list longer than Huda Beauty falsies. If your new tube dries out in days, or you're clumpy to a fault, then heed these mascara tips and hacks and pump up the volume in your cosmetic life.

Mascara was one of the first products I was allowed to use as a beauty-obsessed pre-teen. I coveted my pink and green tube of Maybelline Great Lash ($5; that I purchased from my local Harmon's Beauty Supply with my measly allowance money. I'd coat my eyes with layers of the stuff until my lashes clung together for dear life in gooey, tar-like clumps.

Over the years, my taste in mascara has evolved and, more importantly, my techniques have too. Mascara seems like a pretty self-explanatory step: Simply coat your lashes and run out the door, right? Not necessarily. Some techniques might result in clumping and, even worse, wasting money. Did you snag a tube of that formula your friend swears by only to end up with raccoon-like undereye smears halfway throughout the day? Have you invested in a pricey tube of your favorite mascara only to have it dry out in a week? I am here for you, girl. Read on to get your blinking babies in fighting form without paying a fortune.

Pick The Right Formula For You

If you're a Harry Potter stan, you might remember the pivotal scene when "the boy who lived" ventures into Mr. Olivander's shop in search of his first wand. Young Potter tries the first two wands and small bits of chaos ensue. Boxes fly off the shelves, vases shatter, etc. Finally, when he tries the third wand that Olivander brings him, the lights flicker creating a halo-like effect behind Harry Potter's head, and his hair blows in an indoor breeze that only be generated by a Beyonce hair fan. It's clear that he has found his perfect wand. As Olivander says ominously, "The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It's not always clear why." Finding the perfect mascara is basically the same process.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no "best" mascara. Just because your bff loves Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara ($23; does not mean that the formula will work for you. Also, just because something is trending or a "best-seller" does not mean it will work for you. It might take a little trial and error, but trust me, it will be worth the process. There might now be any glowing lights or hair softly blowing in the breeze, but when you find the right formula, you'll just know.

Don't fret, my friends. You don't have to go into this search blind. Generally, there are a few formula rules to get your started on your search. Are your lashes short? Then opt for a lengthening mascara. Lengthening mascaras tend to have a slightly drier formula that won't weigh down your lashes and will help to extend the tips quite a bit. Do you have sparse or skinny lashes that are nearly invisible to the naked eye? Then choose a volumizing mascara that will build on itself to add density and visibility to your lashes. Does your mascara run and smear throughout the day? Try a tubing or a waterproof mascara. Both won't transfer to the skin around your eyes.

Finally, if you're still not sure just how to begin, mascara kits are a big help. Often, Sephora, Macy's, and other retailers with carry limited-edition bundles of mini mascaras that will let you test out multiple formulas for a fraction of the price. That way, just like Harry Potter, you can use trial-and-error to find your perfect match.

Curl Your Lashes First

For a long time, I didn't believe in the power of lash curlers. However, just like finding the perfect mascara, you might not find a lash curler that works for you on your first try. When the curved component of the lash curler fits right against your eye, the magic is real.

I personally swear by the Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler ($21;, which lifts my sad, sad lashes to dramatic heights. As a makeup artist, the Surratt Beauty Relevée Lash Curler ($30; has also worked wonders on many a model. Again, it might take some time, but once you find the perfect lash curler for you, your life with be changed.

Slide your lashes into the open mouth of the curler and clamp down a few times. Make sure you get as close to the root as possible without pulling or pinching your sensitive eyelid skin. Once you apply the mascara, the curl will be kept in place for all day long wear (depending on the stubbornness of your lashes.

For The Love Of Beauty, Do Not Pump Your Mascara

I've had friends, family members, and even Instagram followers ask me why their mascara tubes get dry with scary speed. Your mascara tube should last you three months. If it's running out after one, then chances are, you're pumping your mascara.

Often, beauty lovers will shove the wand in and out of the tube in an attempt to get more product on the bristles. This motions actually floods the mascara tube with air, causing it to dry out much more quickly. It's a little habit that will cost you hundreds of dollars over the years. Luckily, it has the easiest fix.

Simply swirl your mascara wand in the tube so it scrapes the product of the inner walls. That way, you'll properly load up your brush without drying our your mascara.

If you learn anything from reading this article, please let it be this. There's no need to waste your money on prematurely dead mascara tubes. Trust me.

Bend The Wand For More Precise Mascara Application

Often, when I'm applying mascara on others, I'll bend the head of the mascara wand on a right angle so I can more precisely apply the product to a model without having to hold my arm perpendicular to my body like I'm brushing my teeth. By bending the wand, I can apply the mascara simple by flicking my wrist rather than moving my entire wand. Also, a bent wand means less accidental moments of getting mascara globs on your nose and/or cheeks. When you bend the wand, you end up having more control over your application.

Most mascara wands are made of metal wiring directly under the bristles. Simply bend it using the mouth of the mascara tube and you're good to go until the tube runs out.

Wiggle And Pull Through

Naturally, lash hairs are thicker at the base and thinner at the tip. If you coat your lashes fully from root to tip over and over, the even, thick layer will weigh down the tips of your lashes and prevent them from properly flaring up toward the sky. Coating your lashes equally from root to tip can also lead to clumping.

Instead, build the volume at the base of the lashes, where your lash hairs have more volume naturally. Simply wiggle the wand back and forth like you're brushing your teeth, then pull the wand through to the tip of the lash. That way, the root of the lash gets more product while the thinner tip gets slightly less. This process will prevent the clumping because the volume will build only where you need it.

To Make Your Lashes Stand Straight Up, Push Them Toward Your Nose

This is a tip that I learned from a Tati YouTube video: If you have lashes that tend to jut out straight or fall flat, as you apply your mascara, use the brush to force your lashes upward. Using the brush, comb your lashes in toward your nose. It's an effect that's similar to teasing your hair. By going against the grain, you'll likely achieve more height by forcing your lashes to stand straight up. Just be careful not to accidentally smack your nose in the process.

If You're Going To Touch Up, Use This Formula


Lancome Grandiose Extreme Wide-Angle Extreme Volume Mascara, $32, Sephora

Again, not all formulas are created equal, so not all formulas will allow you to successfully apply a fresh coat of mascara over old, dried mascara. Often, this process will result in product flaking all over your face (not glam).

If you're going to touch up your mascara, creamier formulas (preferably ones with oil) will allow your to build without clumping or flakes. The oil in the formula will temporarily breakdown your existing formula, allowing it to bind with the new formula before it dries down. My personal favorite mascara for touching up is the Lancome Grandiose Extreme Wide-Angle Extreme Volume Mascara ($32; because it contains hydrating jojoba oil, but any oil-based mascara should do the trick.

Kim Carpluk

Gone are the days of clumpy lashes and dry lash tubes. You're now a mascara expert, so get out there and flutter 'til you drop.