Find that your mascara always smudges? Worry expensive perfume just won’t last? Concerned about constant concealer piling? Enter: Beauty SOS, here to solve your biggest beauty challenges.
When it comes to makeup, mascara is my nemesis. The rest of my makeup bag is a finely-honed work of art containing a curated edit of skin-friendly foundations, easy-to-use blushers and eyeshadows, and highlighters that impart that coveted well-rested glow.
The one product that’s usually missing? Mascara. And that’s because my oily eyelids and I have such a love-hate relationship with the stuff that it’s rare for one to earn a permanent home in my makeup stash.
Sure, the lash-lifting, eye-opening benefits of a great mascara are undeniable, but is it really worth it when nine times out of ten I’m left with unsightly black smudges on my eyelids and pesky flakes of pigment beneath my lash line come lunchtime?
Well, yes, it would seem. Although the popularity of false lashes and DIY lash extensions have soared in recent years, there’s nothing that can so quickly and easily deliver that extra pop of definition like a mascara.
Despite the risks of clumping, smudging and flaking, mascara is one of my most-purchased beauty items ever because I’m always on the lookout for the one magic formula that will become my holy grail.
Which are the best mascaras that last all day?
I know I’m not alone in my quest to find a mascara that holds up all day, either. Friends and family are always asking me what the best mascara on the market is – with ‘best’ meaning a mascara that delivers everything from length and volume to curl and lift. And all without looking clumpy, smudging or flaking away. Naturally.
Luckily, there are products that fit the bill and avoid the biggest issues that myself and others have with mascara. Ahead, I share some simple hacks that I’ve learned over the years to reduce the chances of your mascara going AWOL after application.
Plus, I’ve included my pick of the very best mascaras that won’t let you down. Trust me…I’ve tried them all.
More about mascara
- The best waterproof mascaras that won’t flake or smudge
- Why L’Oreal Paris’ Telescopic Mascara is the holy-grail for extending short lashes
- The best high-street mascaras according to the Eliza team
Mascara SOS 1: smudging
How to stop mascara smudging
I hate to bang on about my oily eyelids, but I’m going to be honest: if you also deal with shiny lids then you’ll know how difficult it is to prevent your mascara from smudging. So, what can you do to help?
1. Use an eyeshadow primer
Eyeshadow primers are a good place to start as most of the formulations on the market are designed to bring down shine on your eyelids and have the added benefit of increasing the wear of any eyeshadow that you might apply on top. I’ve tried tons over the years, but in my opinion the cult Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, £19.50, Lookfantastic is the absolute best. It’s worth the investment and as a little goes a long way, it lasts for ages.
2. Avoid heavy or oily eye creams
Skipping heavy eye creams or oil-based formulas in your morning skincare routine can really help too, as you’re basically aiming to prevent any slipperiness on your skin that mascara pigment might transfer onto. The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG, £6.40, Boots is one of my favourite alternatives as not only does it have a lightweight, serum-like texture that sinks into skin immediately, it also does an amazing job of de-puffing and brightening tired eyes.
3. Apply finishing powder to your eyelids
However, the best tip I’ve learned over the years is to mattify your eyelids with a dusting of translucent powder. It really doesn’t have to be a fancy formulation, I swear by the NYX Professional Makeup High Definition Finishing Powder in Translucent, £9, Boots. Buffing a little over eyelids and even onto the very tips of your lashes can keep smudging at bay all day. Whenever I skip this step I always regret it.
Of course, the importance of opting for a mascara formula that boasts serious staying power can’t be underrated either. Here are three that I’ve found to be as smudge-proof as they come…
Mascara SOS 2: clumping
How to stop mascara clumping
While there is a time and a place for clumpy lashes, pretty much my entire early 20s was dedicated to perfecting the spidery lash look. These days I prefer my lashes to look fluttery and separated, rather than like I’ve just applied three too many coats of mascara.
1. Make sure you clean your makeup off properly
To avoid clumps, you need to make sure that you’re starting with a totally clean base. I find that sweeping a little micellar water over my lashes with a reusable cotton pad first thing removes any traces of product that you might have missed the night before, and ensures that they are totally mascara-free. CeraVe’s Micellar Cleansing Water, £11, LookFantastic is my top pick right now thanks to its gentle formulation and the infusion of inflammatory-fighting niacinamide.
2. Try applying mascara in a zigzag motion
There’s also a lot to be said for application technique when it comes to preventing clumpy lashes. Rather than rolling the brush straight up from the roots of your lashes to the tips, try a zigzag motion, gently wiggling the brush from side-to-side to encourage even distribution and therefore less clumping across the board.
If you’re looking to achieve the perfect lower lashes, read our guide to mastering mascara application on your bottom lashes here.
3. Use a clean mascara wand to brush out clumps
Finally though, my best insider beauty tip is this: keep an old mascara wand on hand for de-clumping purposes. I’ve spent a fair amount of time backstage with makeup artists and so many pros use a clean mascara wand (usually a thin, narrow one) to comb through lashes after makeup application.
It’s the easiest way to separate and fan out lashes without adding more product. Or try the MAC Disposable Mascara Wands, £7, Fenwick, if you haven’t got an old one to hand right now.
Again, even once you’ve got these tips down, choosing a mascara that doesn’t clump to start with is something of a game changer; these ones certainly deliver when it comes to separating every single lash…
Mascara SOS 3: flaking
How to stop mascara flaking
1. Check the expiry date on your mascara
The number one cause of a flaky mascara is that the product itself is past its best. Generally speaking, a mascara lasts around three months once you’ve opened it, but as soon as the texture of the formula starts to switch from smooth and glossy to dry and crumbly then it’s time to say your goodbyes and reach for a new tube.
Looking for an affordable mascara but don’t want to compromise on results? Find our round-up of the best high street mascaras here, where the Eliza team share their all-time favourites.
2. Wait for the first coat to dry before applying the next
Once that’s taken care of, it’s time to assess how long you spend applying your mascara. As someone that is perpetually running late, I tend to slick on two coats of mascara in the mere seconds that I have left before I need to run out of the door.
However, makeup artists have assured me that taking your time is key if you want to avoid mascara flakes. If you’re going in with a second coat of mascara then you need to wait for the first to dry – or at least only be the slightest bit tacky – before going in with your second coat; much like you would if you were painting your nails.
3. Apply an eyelash primer before your first coat of mascara
Lastly, if you have a penchant for volumising mascara formulas that contain mini fibres to bolster your lashes then you might find it’s these little filaments that end up all over your cheeks.
If you don’t want to forgo a fibrous formulation entirely then apply a lash primer first, like the L’Oreal Paris Lash Paradise Mascara Primer, £11.99, Boots, which can help the fibres to stick to your lashes. Or you can try a volumising waterproof formula on top to improve longevity; I rate Urban Decay Perversion Waterproof Mascara, £23, Urban Decay.
Haven’t got time to prep your lashes for flake-free application? Luckily, these mascaras are amongst the best I’ve found for sticking around all day, zero flakes in sight…