April 24, 2009

Q: Every time I've tried false eyelashes in the past, I've ended up looking silly. Is there any way for them to look superlush and natural?

A: For a natural look wearing false eyelashes, start by selecting the right color, says Raina Thiele, a New York City-based national makeup artist for Pout cosmetics. If you have fair hair, stick to brown lashes -- black may be too dramatic, except for evening wear. But if you have medium-toned skin and darker lashes, brown/black or black works well.

Next, select a length that isn't too long. "Most women use short lashes, which fill in the lash line to make it appear thicker and fuller rather than making lashes appear superlong," Thiele says. Editor's favorites: I-Iman Eyelashes ($18), which have two lengths in each package, and Sephora Flirt-It Lash Duo ($8; both at sephora.com), which has half-strips to enhance the outer corners of your lashes, as well as full strips for a more glamorous look. For easy and safe application, follow these goof-proof tips from Thiele:

- Start with clean lashes. The glue on false eyelashes needs to adhere to both your eyelid and your existing lashes, not to the mascara that you already have on. Since oil can break the glue's bond or prevent it from forming one, make sure you use an oil-free eye makeup remover, such as Aveda Pure Comfort Eye Makeup Remover ($15; aveda.com), and steer clear of any oil-based creams or makeup on lids or around eyes.

- Apply lashes so they rest along your natural lash line. Most glues take about 30 seconds to dry, so you can maneuver the lashes into place and adjust them and then hold until they're secure.

- Know what kind of glue you're using. Semi-permanent glue will make your lashes last three to seven days, while temporary glue will last only until the next time you get them wet. A word of caution: Never substitute an adhesive that's not intended for eyelashes, because this could cause irritation. Try Ardell LashTite Individual Eyelash Adhesive ($3; at drugstores) or the latex-based Duo Surgical Adhesive ($8.50; gloss.com).

- Once they're on, leave them alone. For many women, the urge to play with the lashes can be hard to resist, but this causes them to come off more quickly and can transfer oils from your hands to your eyes. Also, when you're in the shower, avoid letting the water run directly over your eyes (the friction from the water can loosen the adhesive).

- Use an oil-based remover to take them off. Never pull on them to get them off, as this will just pull on the skin or might even pull out some of your natural lashes.