Hair & Makeup

8 Mascara Hacks You Need To Know

From a smoky eye to the ultimate feline flick, the way you use your mascara wand can completely transform your makeup. NEWBY HANDS discovers the professional tips and tricks for making the most of your mascara


“When it comes to mascara, most women think that wearing it is just something you do, and they use it in the same way every day,” says Vincent Ford, global makeup artist for Nars. “And yet when it comes to eyeliner, lipstick or blush, they think about how they can change it around and create different looks.” And it’s true. Most of us tend to stick with a favorite mascara – or have several we may swap around for day or evening. But if we get a little more creative with our humble mascara wand, according to Ford, we can intensify a classic smoky eye, create the perfect almond-shape cat’s eye, and even forgo false lashes – because using the right mascara in the right way can give you exactly the look you’re after.

“I’m always asked how I get lashes looking so good,” says Ford, “and it’s always thanks to the way I use mascara – I don’t use false lashes on clients or on models, as they make the eyes look a little heavy. So, with mascara, it’s all about the technique. I’ll sometimes layer up different textures but, really, just by using the wand in different ways, you can do any look – it’s how you apply it that matters.” Here, Ford shares his tips on how to wield your mascara wand for truly amazing lashes.

For an intense, smoky eye

“Instead of sweeping the wand up through the lashes, work it sideways, back and forth (like brushing your teeth), right in at the lash root and mid-length. Don’t take the wand up through the lash tips, as this is not about making the lashes long but making them intense. This gives density right at the base of the lash, where you want it – it also gives a lovely frame to the eyes, especially to blue or green eyes if you use a really dark, carbon-black mascara.”

For the perfect cat’s eye

“It’s that classic Lauren Bacall elongated eye and you just sweep the wand out, almost horizontally – sideways, not upwards – through the lashes. Use a volumizing mascara, as these tend to be wetter, so when they dry, they hold the lash in place better. Volumizing mascaras aren’t good for length, but they are great for intensity and creating shapes like this with the lashes.”

To make your eyes look bigger

“You need to emphasize the center of the eye. Use a regular mascara on your top lashes and then, to open up the eyes, just in the very center of your lashes (above the iris), use a volumizing mascara – but apply it by holding the wand vertically, so it just coats, thickens and accents those middle lashes.”

Fake a false-lash flick

“Use your normal mascara and then finish with a coat or two of volumizing mascara – but only on the outer, upper lashes, as this gives that amazing thickness to the lashes, and an extra flick to the eyes.”

The 1960s big-lash look

“Use a normal mascara first, then a volumizing one, holding the wand down vertically and sweeping it up through alternate sections of the lashes – not every lash. This gives that separated, clumpier, doll-eye lash look.”

Layer up your mascara

“Use an everyday mascara first, through the length of your lashes, and then go in with a volumizing one – but use it just for the base of the lashes, at the roots. I use the Nars Climax, as it’s a true carbon black and almost gives that eyeliner effect when used at the roots.”

Mix-and-match mascara

“Don’t use the same mascara on top and bottom lashes – it always looks prettier to have more feathery lashes on the bottom lid. Either use a mascara specifically for bottom lashes (the brushes are smaller) or use a liner brush (thin and flat-ended) or a small fan brush rather than the wand. It’s very easy, as you literally paint it on to the roots. You get great, intense coverage this way – especially if you have very fair, blonde or red lashes and you always get that gap of light hair right at the root.”

How to care for your lashes

“It’s an old trick, but I always recommend castor oil on lashes and brows – you can buy it from any drugstore and it definitely works. Just apply it with a cotton bud and leave overnight. Lash serums will help lashes grow longer, but not necessarily thicker – and for most women, it’s those dense, intense lashes that look so good. And I do like an oil-based makeup remover, as it cleans and conditions the lashes.”


The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown