Tuesday, 1 February 2011

On the lash (part two: falsies)

I'd like to open with a buzz-killing proviso: false lashes are a gigantic pain to master. They take ages to get the hang of, are super-fiddly, and take a superhuman measure of patience. Falsies are designed to cling to pre-existing lashes, so getting them to stay put with no natural lashes there is a real test of will. (Are you feeling disheartened yet?!)

BUT: once you get the hang of it, you’ve got it for life, and it’s like having your old eyelashes back - which, it goes without saying, feels pretty great.

(If any chemo patients are reading this, I'd recommend you stop here: for the length of time it’ll take you working how to get the darn things to stay on, your old eyelashes will have grown back. It’s not worth the hassle, seriously.)

Step 1: prepare your base

For a ultra-realistic look, you'll need to apply liner with a smudged smoky edge as outlined in this earlier post.

Step 2: cut your falsies

Needed: good-quality realistic false lashes (pictures: Ardell Fashion Lashes in 'Luckies')

The world-beating secret to applying and wearing false lashes is: start with half-lashes. By this, I mean buy a set of lashes, and cut them in half.

The reason most lash-free ladies’ first attempts at falsies (including mine, may I add) fail miserably is that they are just too long. They literally don't fit your eyelid. But: if you start with short, manageable ‘mini-lashes’ applied to the outer corners of the eyes, and slowly work your way up to longer and longer sets, then voila!

You want to buy well-made falsies which are reasonably thick and not ridiculously long. My absolute favourite brand is Ardell real human hair lashes, their Luckies style in particular, which are well priced (around £5 last time I checked) and widely available in Boots.

Remove the lashes from the pack and cut each lash in half. Discard the outer half of each - you’ll be using the inner half. (Most lashes, unless they’re designed to look purposely artificial, start short at the inner corners and get much longer as they move outwards.)

Step 3: prepare your falsies

Needed: eyelash curlers (pictures: Boots Essentials Eyelash Curler)

One reason false eyelashes often fail is because without the 'cushion' of natural lashes for them to sit on, they can droop sadly downwards, which doesn't look good. Combat this by firmly clamping your half-lashes in an eyelash curler for a few seconds, so that they curl upwards far more - this may seem a small step, but is really quite important. (A note on eyelash curlers: since you're not curling them on your face, I actually prefer this compact kind of curler, as it's easier to control and you can curl one section of the lash at a time.)

Step 4: apply the glue

Needed: good quality eyelash glue (pictures: Duo Adhesive)

For this to work you need good glue. Please please please don't bother with the stuff that comes with the lashes - all too often, it's just no good.

My number one eyelash glue is Duo Adhesive which is available from MAC stores. It’s pricey (around £10), but totally worth it.

Apply a thin band of the glue to the lash strip - not too much, not too little. Try and apply it to the top and side of the strip, not the underside. Let it dry for about half a minute - this is important, otherwise the lash won't hold on your eye.

Step 5: stick 'em on!

First, make sure the eyeliner you've already applied to your eyes is completely dry before going in with the lashes - wet liquid liner + glue = no lashes.

In front of the mirror, take one of the lashes and hold it in front of your eyelid in the position you want it to stick on. Slowly and carefully, move it straight towards your eyelid until the strip connects with the outer half of your eyelid. Don't place the strip too close to the edge of the lid or you'll get glue in your eye. (This is where the nice thick sweep of liner you've already applied comes in: it essentially hides 'the join'.)

Taking care not to blink suddenly (keeping your eye relaxed, even half closed helps), keep holding the lash on your eyelid, applying slight pressure so you’re basically pushing it onto the lid. Make sure you’ve angled it so that the lashes are nicely fanning upwards, not drooping downwards. (Some people advise you use tweezers for this, but I don’t think you can apply the necessary pressure across the lid using them.)

After about a minute, gently take your hand away - and there you go.

At least, that's the theory - but I'm almost certain that by this time, you will have either got glue in your eye, lost the eyelash, or had it fall off at the last moment. You’ll also be paranoid about them then falling off within half an hour, which they inevitably will the first few times you try. (This is why you'll want to carry your glue around with you in your bag when you go out, for quick touch-up jobs). However, practice makes perfect, and after a while, it'll be a breeze - plus your lashes will look fantastic.

Reusing your lashes

You can totally reuse these lashes if you are gentle removing them. You also need to carefully peel off the old glue that will remain on the lash strip - it’ll a black gunky clump from the eyeliner it was stuck to - in order to reuse them again.

Be really gentle in doing this, using a sharp thumbnail, because if you rip it off too fast you will rip off the hairs too. 

Initially, false eyelashes are an expensive habit, as you’ll be needing a new set every two or three days (the lashes will be getting gunked up with clumsy glue application, or becoming ratty-looking quickly from removing the old glue). But after a while, you’ll be able to make one set last up to two weeks, which will save you from bankruptcy!

The next step

The end goal is to trim your lashes a little less short every time you apply new ones, so that after a month, you’ve worked your way up to lashes that stretch the whole length of your eye - just like your old natural ones did. You probably won't want to extend all the way to the inner corner of your eye, as the lashes will keep jabbing the corner, making you tear up - and tears and eyelash glue do not mix. (By the way, if like me you are one of those people who gets instantly teary eyes in the wind or cold, make sure not to let your lashes extend all the way to the outer corner of your eye, as this is where the teardrops collect, and they'll melt your glue. A lesson learned the hard way...) 

Enjoy your lashes!


  1. LOL--thank you for the warning. I may or may not take a stab at the whole falsies thing since I'll be in chemo for a good three months, BUT I'm most thankful for the liquid liner and brow tutorials. I'd have never thought how amazing and REAL those two bits could look. You are right that it's easy to fool the human eye, and the liquid liner blew me away on your eyes. And your brows as well. Totally thought they were real until you proved otherwise.

  2. Hi Carly, it's Sian…I ran into you in Montclair last weekend (that was a total God Thing as I had just googled how to apply false eyelashes during chemo and saw your video!), anyways..I was hoping you could tell me the brand and style eyelashes you use please.

    It was super fabulous meeting you, you are a total Doll and God send!!!!!



    1. Hey Sian, loved meeting you last weekend! Fortune clearly made our paths cross!

      You'll find the details of the eyelashes I use at the top of this post but here they are again: they're Ardell Lashes, and my favorite style is either the Demi Wispies or Luckies. You find them in Walgreens, Target, Sally Beauty Supply, Bed Bath and Beyond or online pretty much wherever (Drugstore.com and Amazon too, I think!) As long as you trim them, curl them a little with a curler or just by pinching them with your fingers, and even set them a little with a spritz of hairspray, it should work out beautifully :)

      I wish you all the luck in the world! And if you need more advice, just comment right here and I'll get back to you. xo

  3. Hi! Thank you for all the information. I keep trying to wear the false eyelashes, any ideas as to why they may continue to peel off at the corners? Also, I feel like you can always see some glue globs. I'm usually pretty good at makeup and such but before alopecia, almost 2 years ago my biggest concern with my lashes was getting them to not hit my sunglasses 😟, times have changed and I'm really struggling getting the falsies to work. Using duo glue and everything you said.

    1. Hey Marney -- sorry, I missed your comment! If your lashes are peeling off at the corners, I think they might be a touch too long for your eyelids and would recommend trimming them down a little (because otherwise every time you blink, the're getting "squished" into the corner crease of your eye.) Another thing I'd recommend is curling your lashes slightly -- not just the actual lash hairs, as I recommend in the tutorial, but bending the arc of the lashes ever so slightly. This stops the ends sticking straight out and reduces the likelihood they'll peel off at the ends! As for the glue globs, I recommend only using a thin layer of glue on the lashes.

      Let me know if these tips help -- if not, we can take a look at the problem again and work out why this is happening for you! :) xo


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