I have long and thin/sparse eyelashes. I know it looks better to curl them before I put mascara on, but when I do it, they come out looking weird and uneven. Do you have any tips on using a drugstore eyelash curler? —Bryce, Brooklyn
Having naturally long eyelashes sounds fun! I’m going to assume “drugstore” is a euphemism for “widely available and affordable,” and that you mean one of those torture-device-looking eyelash curlers, like this one:
There’s no reason to be afraid of this thing when it’s actually pretty easy to use!
The first technique to master here is inching the curler up the length of your lashes gradually to get a real curl, rather than making one sharp bend in the middle of your eyelashes. To do this, feed your lashes into the curler, then move it down to the base of your lash line. Go slowly, and make sure you’ve positioned the curler on your actual eyelashes, not on the lid, before proceeding—I often pinch a little skin by getting too close to the base.
Give the curler a firm squeeze, hold it for a few seconds (keep very still, or you might inadvertently pull some of your lashes out), release it, move the eyelash curler a smidgen forward, and clamp down again.
Repeat this process at least once more, working up to the tips of your lashes—do this in the tiniest increments you can stand for an exceptional curl. Here is a beautiful illustration of this technique done in three steps:
A totally optional second tip is to warm the eyelash curler up a little before curling. Your curler should be above room temperature, but not burn-inducing, to the touch. The safest way to get it right is with warm tap water: Run the curler under the tap for 30 seconds or so, wipe it dry, and test that it’s not too hot on the inside of your wrist before you put it near your face. Now your curler will work sort of like the teensy-tiniest possible curling iron!
Of course, you could always just go out and buy a heated eyelash curler, but the good ones aren’t cheap, so try this first. You may also want to check out an individual eyelash curler if you find that you have some lashes that just won’t fit nicely into the other kind. I have a few lashes at the very ends of my lids that point down and out, and I have to go back and get them individually with this type of curler, using the same technique described above.
Last, and perhaps most important: Apply your mascara after curling your lashes. I know some of you renegades out there are pshaw-ing me right now, but I dare you naysayers to go look at your mascara-fied, gunky eyelash curler and tell me you don’t see ONE torn-asunder eyelash stuck to it. Mascara is sticky by nature—it was made to adhere to the tiny hairs on your lids. This means it’ll also stick to a curler, taking some of your precious lashes with it, and negating the whole point of using an eyelash curler in the first place (ripping your lashes out is pretty much the opposite of emphasizing them, right?). —Jane Marie
Do you have any eye-makeup suggestions for us gals with hooded eyelids? I generally fall back on winged eyeliner because it’s visible even with hooded lids, but I want to do something special! I rarely wear eye shadow because it just gets smudged and looks odd. —Olivia, 17, USA
I FEEL YOU ON THIS, OLIVIA! I too, have hooded eyes—I like to call them Robin Hooded eyes. For the uninitiated, hooded eyes have a fold of skin above the eye that covers the eyelid. When people like us blink, our eyelids are covered uncovered by this skin, so eye makeup tends to smudge, especially if you have oily skin. This can be SO ANNOYING. My fix is to use a thin layer of eye shadow primer over my whole eyelid (mine’s a NARS guy), which helps keep eye shadow in place. If you’re going to use eyeliner, I’d recommend a gel formulation, like this Maybelline one, because they’re made to be long-lasting. I can attest to this, too—I find that liquid and pencil smudge way more.
As you say, winged eyeliner is a great look on hooded eyes. This is because the liner defines the eye and the wing flicks out beyond the hooded area, meaning you can see it whether your eyes are closed or open. This is a classic, awesome technique, but I hear you on wanting to try something a little different.
The principle of making sure you can see eye makeup even when your eye is open, which you mention in your letter, is the main goal of many rad eye makeup ideas for us Robin Hoodies. Lemme tell you about one super-simple eyeshadow look I love. I like to call it “horizontal ombré,” because I use two shadows in the same color: one dark and one light, but you could use any colors you like. This is how we do it:
• Using an eye shadow brush, apply the lighter color to the inner third of your eyelid.
• Look straight ahead into a mirror and take the eye shadow up, up, up your eyelid until you can just see it with your eyes open. Let’s call this point your Vertex of Visibility, or VV” (though don’t mention this your math teacher, because I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t fly in real geometry). Extending the shadow a bit past your lid is fine, but you can go as high as you want! I like it to peep out by about a half-inch when my eye is open.
• Sweep the darker shadow across the rest of your eyelid, blending it into the lighter one where they join up.
• Use your brush to take this color above the VV, as well. Blend and smooth it out with the brush, following the natural shape of your eyelid. (It might take a little practice to get the shape right.)
• Apply eyeliner as you like—winged or unwinged—and add some mascara, and you’re done!
Even simpler than that, you could use just one eye shadow color. Color in your whole eyelid, then take the shadow slightly above the VV with a blending brush (I like this e.l.f. one.) Check out Indigo’s awesome Suzy Bishop tutorial, which demonstrates a similar idea with a few more steps.
The only real trick to any of these methods is making sure you can see the eye shadow above your beloved hoods.
Good luck to you and all our fellow Robin Hoodies out there! —Estelle ♦
If you seek the beauty guidance of Jane Marie and her cabal of friendly hotties, email your questions to [email protected]. Please sign it with your name/nickname/initials, age, and where you live, young stunner!