Dreaming of lash extensions, but stuck at home? Here are some DIY ways to give yours a boost.

By Erica Metzger
June 09, 2020
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This is part of our new weekly series called Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, as well as explore new techniques IRL.

It's been a year since I last had lash extensions but if I close my eyes I can still imagine the feeling of my fringe living its best life.  Lash extensions, if you aren't familiar, are glued to each individual lash by a professional and can give you a fuller, denser look that lasts a few weeks (if you take good care of them). The effect is game-changing for my daily makeup routine. I usually wear shadow, liner, and mascara to get a naturally defined look. With lash extensions, I'm good to go with zero eye makeup.

My motivation to get them in the first place was to prep for a photoshoot. I was due for new headshots and wanted my eyes to pop in the photos without a heavy makeup application. So I did the most logical thing I could think of, which was booking an appointment with Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in NYC for a set of custom lashes. After evaluating my eye shape, Richardson suggested a custom application that would replicate the look of two coats of mascara. Sign me up! Clementina used four different lengths of synthetic lashes, focusing the longest lashes on the center of the eyes to make my deep-set eyes appear larger and more lifted. With my long fluttery lashes, I felt camera-ready.

Lash extensions are definitely a commitment when you factor in the cost, the time it takes for a pro to apply them (up to two hours), and the upkeep at home prevent fallout, but, boy—do I miss the look! I totally get why some of my friends have kept them up for years. And I'm sure I'll get them again for a special occasion when life returns to normal. In the meantime, I've been trying DIY tricks to boost my fringe beyond mascara. These are my favorite at-home substitutes, from super easy to more advanced.

Credit: Courtesy of Envious Lashes

A traditional lash curler is my all-time favorite beauty tool. My lashes grow straight out so a pump or two from a lash curler gives me a wide-eyed effect before I apply any mascara. I even use one on no-makeup days. I discovered this heated lash curler when I had my lash extensions. As your natural lashes grow out the extensions can drop a little, so this was a gentle way to push them up without breaking the extension. It's also a great alternative for natural lashes if you're nervous about pinching your eyelid skin with a regular curler.

Buy It: Envious Lashes Heated Eye Lash Curler, ($30, Envious Lashes)

Credit: Courtesy of Younique

Lash primer is a quick way to enhance the effects of your regular mascara. This formula goes on white and immediately conditions and thickens up each lash. Topped with black mascara, lashes instantly look longer and thicker. Another benefit of the white tint is that it makes me notice all of the tiny lashes I often miss when I'm applying mascara. When you go over all of those inner and outer lashes, you really fan out your fringe.

Buy It: Younique Moodstruck Epic Lash Primer, ($24, Younique)

Credit: Courtesy of Velour

Most false lashes are not one-size-fits-all, says celebrity makeup artist Angela Calisti, who recommends trimming the strip before applying. "Match the strip up to your lashes and trim the strip where the bulkiest part of your lashes are—that's where the strip should start. It should finish about a few lashes in from your outer corner and not over-extend," she says.

I prefer natural-looking strips like these. The reusable lashes have a flexible band and don't need trimming. I find them much more comfortable to wear than other false lashes.

Buy It: Velour Lashes Effortless Collection, ($26, Sephora)

Credit: Courtesy of Target

Falsies adhere best when you apply all your regular makeup first, including mascara. I use a few coats of a rich, volumizing formula like this drugstore beauty staple.

Buy It: Maybelline Falsies Lash Lift Mascara, ($9, Target)

Credit: Courtesy of Target

Glue application is everything. When coating the underside of a strip make sure both ends are covered so they don't pop up later. "One of the most common problems with false lashes is that they don't stay in place which can irritate the eye," Calisti says. Allow the glue to dry for 30 seconds before you apply the strip to your lid. The glue sticks better when it's a bit tacky. Try an adhesive that comes with two colors. The white side dries clear—best for beginners. The black side dries like eyeliner.

Buy It: Duo 2-in-1 Brush-On Striplash Adhesive, ($8, Target)

Credit: Courtesy of Lash Star Beauty

"Place the false lashes where your lashes are natural the bulkiest, and look down while applying them to get as close to the lash line as possible," Calisti says. I find using tweezers or a lash tool makes this much easier to nudge them against my lash line. Once they are in place, Calisti suggests using your pointer finger to gently push them upwards toward your eyelid.

Buy It: Lash Star Beauty Lash Applicator Tool, ($18, Lash Star Beauty)

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