This article shares a multi-pronged approach to more effectively enhance and maximize aging lashes over 50. Topics discussed include types of mascara and ingredients, the benefits and how-to technique of mascara layering as well as some easy steps to protect one’s eyelashes for the years to come.
A brief discussion and recommendations for eyelash growth serums are located in the free Resource Library here.
It’s a harsh truth that our eyelashes, like the hairs on our heads, change as we age. Typically, they grow sparser and shorter. I began to notice this shift more significantly after 50 and even more so after 60. Fortunately, there are eyelash growth serums that help and work to improve length, color and to some degree lash thickness. However, they cannot compensate for all of the changes particularly in texture: eyelashes become drier, straighter, and more fragile.
As a result, mascara, a long-time makeup staple for many of us, isn’t quite as flattering as it was when younger. I was faced with this fact when I received a fabulous Japanese mascara as a gift recently. The formula was heavy on fibers that provided incredible and unparalleled lengthening ability.
Who was I to argue with extreme length mascara? At one point in my life, it would have been more than satisfactory on its own. However, upon applying it, I noticed that the incredibly long length of the fibers oddly accentuated an increased scarcity of lashes. Additionally, mascara clumps were more pronounced. Could it be that mascara now had an opposite effect of what we wanted?
If so, then how do we effectively capture more lash lushness with less lash?
I believe that there is a way to “maximize” our lashes…and to continue using mascara with a better result. The solution is not doing what we did when we were younger: e.g., layering multiple coats of the same mascara all over every eyelash. Rather, it’s an approach along with a technique that is multi-pronged. It entails:
- Layering Multiple Mascaras Strategically
- Practicing Mindful Eyelash Protection
- Limiting the application of mascara on eyes
- Avoiding regular use of certain types of mascara
- Effective Use of Lash Growth Serums
This article will discuss the first 2 points above in more detail. The Resource Library here contains some information on Lash Growth Serums including a few of my tried and true recommendations. Spoiler alert, they really do work. With caveats.
Let’s start by understanding just a bit more about what we have been wearing on our eyes all of these years.
What Is Mascara Made Of
Most types of mascaras contain an iron oxide pigment that darkens lashes along with tiny natural or synthetic fibers to fill in the lashes, a polymer to create a film to coat lashes, and various oils and waxes that act as thickening agents.
Waterproof mascara has the same or similar ingredients as those listed above but with less water in the formula. The result is a drier type of mascara that offers more staying power and thus a waterproof moniker. While this type of mascara has the benefit of longevity, it also tends to dry out our already fragile lashes making them more prone to fall out.
Conversely, clean mascaras, a relatively new trend, eliminate many of the chemicals, preservatives and heavy metals found in the regular and waterproof formulas.
Types of Mascara
There are 2 overarching types of mascara. They are:
- Lengthening Mascara (Regular & Waterproof Formulas)
- Volumizing Mascara (Regular & Waterproof Formulas)
From within those 2 main categories, there are a number of subgroups created by differences in formula and mascara wand/applicator.
Much to my surprise, layering or “cocktailing” mascara is all over TikTok and has been for some time now. While this trend may be new news to some, it is a very long-time practice by makeup artists and others (including me!) to achieve a more personalized lash look.
Layering mascara is the technique of layering 2 or more complementary mascaras to enhance and improve what can be done by one mascara. Each mascara offers a counterbalance of the other. In the “how-to” example below, I use volume and lengthening formulas in order to minimize the appearance of lash “lessness”. Above and beyond formula, a wand will also change up a look and result.
Take a look at my progression photos to see the differences:
How To Layer Mascara
Below is a suggested step-by-step layering approach and technique particularly as you are first starting:
- Choose 2 different mascara formulas
- 1 lengthening and 1 volumizing
- Avoid waterproof and tubing mascara; my experience with tubing is that it is difficult to layer. Layering waterproof will be difficult to remove gently
- Begin with no more than 2 mascaras to avoid ending up with a clumpy mess
- Start with clean non-oily eyelashes and lids
- Before application, curl eyelashes with a lash curler
- As a rule of thumb, begin by applying the “heavier” mascara first. The heavier formula serves as a solid base upon which to build a second lighter mascara. Typically, the volumizing formula is the heavier first coat
- Apply no more than 2 coats with the base
- Apply mascara mainly to the outer third of the eye for both the upper and lower lashes. This “less is more” technique is very effective
- A stronger more “made-up” look in the outer eye area provides a two-fold benefit:
- An illusion of a lifted eye
- Minimized overall look of clumping
- A stronger more “made-up” look in the outer eye area provides a two-fold benefit:
- Once the first formula is dry, start applying the second (probably lengthening) mascara
- N.B. It is not necessary to brush the mascara from the base of the lashes to the tips on this second coat. Concentrate on brushing just the upper half of the lashes with the goal of extending the lashes vs coating the lashes.
Mascara Wands and Types
Mascara wands can also very much affect the final look. So much so that I have given mascara recommendations below categorized by popular mascara wands.
To illustrate, below is a photo of me with both eyes layered with both lengthening and volumizing mascara. Both eyes have Diorshow mascara as the base volume coat. However, I used different lengthening mascaras with different wand types for the lengthening second coat (Ilia on my right eye and Deja Vu on my left eye).
Can you tell the difference between the two eyes?
Best Mascara Recommendations
Dense Full Brush
Dense Brush Benefit: VOLUME and thoroughly depositing formula on and between lashes
These recommendations are all fantastic and do what they say they are going to do. L’Oreal’s formula has a tendency to be a little wet which can make it clump more easily than the others, but it’s still a great value for the price point. FYI, I used Diorshow as the volume mascara in the photo for both my eyes.
Lancome-Monsieur Big Lash
Diorshow 24 hour Buildable Volume
L’Oreal Paris Voluminous
Skinny Mascara Wand
Skinny Wand Benefit: LENGTHENING and EXTENDING all lashes even fine lashes with less clumping.
Ilia Limitless is “clean” mascara and is very comfortable to wear for those who have sensitive or dry eyes. It is also the lengthening mascara that I used for my right eye in the photo. Lancome Definicils is wonderfully effective almost too much so, as it can be on the more difficult side to remove.
Ilia Limitless Lash Clean Mascara
Lancome Definicils Mascara
Curved Mascara Wand
Curved Wand Benefit: LIFTS LASHES to give them a slight curl (although it does not replace a lash curler). Depending on product, available in lengthening and/or volumizing formulas.
The Deja Vu Fiber Wig is a Japanese brand that I just discovered and is the lengthening mascara (2nd coat) on the right eye in the photo. Lash Idole, like many of Lancomes mascaras, is fantastic for volumizing and lifting the lashes to open the eyes.
Deja Vu Fiber Wig Ultra Long Mascara (Lengthening)
Lancome Lash Idole Drama (Volume)
Protecting our eyelashes is a very important part of preserving what we have. Below are a few tips:
- Avoid or minimize the use of waterproof mascaras. The formula is drying to the lashes.
- Be judicious with the number of mascara coats and where mascara is applied. Less is more and more coats everywhere mean removal will quite likely be tougher.
- Eyelash remover should preferably contain some kind of oil to keep the eyelashes conditioned and to prevent tugging or pulling the eyelashes. I am not a fan of Micellar water as it just doesn’t have enough slip to it. Here are a couple that I use and highly recommend:
L’Oreal Clean Artiste Makeup Remover
- Consider “clean” mascara for your eyes particularly for those of us who have sensitive and drier eyes. I recommend Ilia.
This article discussed a multi-faceted approach to enhancing and maximizing over 50 eyelashes. Topics shared included a discussion of mascara types and ingredients, the reasons behind and the technique of layering mascara along with tips to protect and preserve eyelashes.
A brief overview and recommendations for eyelash growth serums are located in the free Resource Library here.
I hope you found this helpful and learned something new. Let me know if you have already been using this technique or are trying it now. I would love to hear how it works for you.
Thank you for reading!