Attention, Ladies: You Might Be Over-Applying Mascara

The mistake you might not realize you're making.

Just when I thought we had exhausted every single one of the mascara mistakes that can possibly befall a lady, I was clued in on yet another pitfall in our quest for sky-high lashes. We promised not to pump, to apply using the right angle, and even to remove waterproof formulas with a hardworking micellar and a gentle dab, but we never thought that our quick-handed application could make it all go south so quickly.

Woman Applying Mascara
Getty/Jason Homa

We're going to keep this discussion strictly to the first and second coat. Reason being, if you need to apply a third and fourth layer of mascara you should probably go ahead and swap formulas because yours isn't delivering, that or you just have unrealistic expectations. You decide. The thing with applying a second coat is that the timing can get tricky. We all know that waiting too long can allow the first layer to dry too much, which results in clumpy, spidery lashes. About 30 to 45 seconds between each application seems to be the golden standard, but that's an easy fix. The real problem lies in the technique. Turns out that the rapid coats we've been applying—all under the guise that it was part of that first coat—is just weighing our lashes down.

The rule of thumb is to start at the base of the lashes, gently wiggling the wand and pulling upward, just once. You might say to yourself, duh, I already do that. Trust me, the next time you put on mascara and your arm hits autopilot, you'll find yourself doing short, quick strokes—and then going back for round two. Albeit, probably waiting 30 to 45 seconds between each because you remembered that story you read on Southern Living, but at that point all hope will be lost. The result is likely about 10, non-building coats when you thought you just applied two. Instead tell that arm that you're in control and you're only giving your lashes one long pull through. Give it the 30 to 45 seconds, then follow up with the exact same technique one more time. Once you hit the tips of the lashes, put down that wand and walk away because you've done all you can, anything else beyond will be a case of diminishing returns.

Quickly brushing the wand through our lashes in rapid succession doesn't really build up the formula in a flutter-enhancing way. It just bogs our lashes down, possibly reducing curl and certainly promoting the possibility of clumping, smudging, and more. Who knew that showing a bit of restraint can be the ticket in our best lashes yet?

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