Troubleshooting Mascara + Alternatives To Mascara

    Mascara is probably the most-loved cosmetic of the times. Unlike most other coloured cosmetics you don't have to worry about picking the right shade or wonder where you should apply it. Everyone looks nice with longer and thicker lashes. Here is my post with lots of tips and tricks that will help you get your lashes to look great. There is not much wrong you can do. Still, mascara can present a challenge to some women. Here I will try to help with some issues, and suggest some alternatives to mascara that will still make your lashes and eyes look great.

Common Mascara Fears:

"I'll jab myself in the eye"

     If you have a serious phobia of touching your eyes, or if your hands shake, I'll give you a pass. Otherwise, applying mascara is not as hard as it looks. You should be holding the wand sideways, not pointed towards the eye; and you should own a good magnifying mirror. Use the brush as if you were trying to comb out your lashes, but slowly.
Solution: Start by applying the mascara only on the tips of your lashes. The wand will not get very close to the eyeball but you will already see the effects: the tips of our eyelashes are usually faded and invisible, applying mascara on the will make them look longer. When you feel comfortable, try applying the mascara from root to tip.

"Mascara will make my lashes fall out"

     Yes, this can happen, but only with crappy products with harmful ingredients (for example silver nitrate). Especially waterproof mascaras are harsh on the eyelashes (plus removing waterproof mascara is also harsh on the lashes)
Solution: I personally use certified organic brands because they are required to avoid ingredients that are potentially toxic. When in doubt, read reviews before you buy anything. And always remove mascara before bed with a gentle cleanser -- I highly recommend plant oils (like olive oil) or micellar solutions, both are very effective but not harsh. Be gentle!

"I'll forget it's there and rub my eyes."

   This still happens to me, and I end up waling with panda eyes (or just one panda eye, which is even worse). However, this trains me to not rub and touch my eyes, which I shouldn't be doing anyway (it stretches the delicate skin).
Solution: The embarrassment of walking around with panda eyes will cure you from rubbing your eyes. Or so I hope.

"It looks stiff and unnatural"

    With the trend going towards dramatic lashes, women are encouraged to pile on a hundred layers of mascara that lengthens and thickens the lashes as much as possible. However this doesn't look good on everyone, especially if you prefer a more understated look or if you have a more light and delicate kind of beauty.
Solution: use mascaras that describe their effect as "natural". Apply just one layer, and then comb out with a clean mascara brush.

"Won't black look to harsh?"

    Black mascara looks good on almost everyone, because the pupil of the eye is black. However if you feel that black mascara is too harsh, try brown. Look at the colours in your hair and eyes: if they are more reddish, a warm brown will work for you. If they are cooler, then a cool brown or black will look good.

Alternatives to mascara:

   If you don't want to use mascara, or if you want to get even more "wow" out of your lashes, here are some ideas:


   This will define the eyes and also make the lashes look more full. Use black if you have black hair, eyes, or if your iris has a black outline. Otherwise experiment with grays, browns and even deep violets and plums. Examine the colour of the outline of your iris -- an eyeliner in the same shade usually looks stunning. Pencil is usually easier to use than liquid liner, and more forgiving if you have a shaky hand.


    This means drawing in between your lashes. I love this technique. It makes the lashes look much thicker, while being invisible -- it's hard to tell that you are wearing eyeliner! Perfect for the "no-makep makeup" look. Use an eyelining pencil, or a powder eyeliner and brush.  The colour of the eyeliner should be close to your eyelash colour (or black, if you plan to use black mascara afterwords). Look for the gaps between the eyelash roots, and wiggle the pencil and the brush to fill in the gaps. Here is a nice tutorial.
    This technique can be used together with mascara, for more thickness without having to layer on coats. It is also great for women with very little lid space or with hooded eyelids, who have problems with the eyeliner leaving no room for eyeshadow.

Brushing the eyelashes:

    If you use eyeshadow or face powder, chances are that your lashes also get dusted with the powder and don't look their best. Simply brushing your eyelashes out with a clean mascara brush will get rid of that powder and fan them out.

Colourless mascara / oil

       Colourless mascara deepens the colour slightly and adds shine. Oils also protect the lashes and may help with stimulating growth. I used to use colourless mascara a lot.

Lash curler

     A lash curler can be used on its own, as well as together with mascara. It curls the lashes, opening up the eyes. It makes straight eyelashes optically longer, because you can see more of them when they swing upwards than when they stick out straight. I also highly recommend it for women with hooded eyelids. In a pinch you can also curl your lashes on a spoon, but I wouldn't recommend doing this every day as it does pull on the fragile skin a lot. An eyelash curler looks scary, but is actually pretty easy to use. Choose a better one without any sharp edges. To avoid pulling out the eyelashes use before applying mascara; be gentle and press (not pull).

Eyelash extensions

     These are fake lashes that are glued on by cosmeticians and stay on for around a month. They can look spectacular when done right. However, a word of caution: my neighbour had them and after some months her own lashes started falling out. Either the glue used was to blame, or the false lashes weighed down her natural lashes. So do your research about what and how your cosmetician will be doing.

False lashes

    These can be a lot of fun, but the glue can be damaging to your real lashes. So don't use them too often and when you do, try to not get the glue onto the lashes (only on the eyelids).

    Personally, I love mascara and pencil eyeliner, and want to buy an eyelash curler. What about you? What do you use on your eyelids and lashes?

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