Exactly How to Apply Individual Lashes — and Why You Should Be Using Them in the First Place
As celebrity and runway makeup trends head in a more natural direction, makeup artists across the board are foregoing a heavy smokey eye and over-the-top lashes. (Great news for anyone who has ever felt defeated after multiple failed attempts to perfectly line up a strip of falsies.)
If you’re new to the lash game, think of individual false lashes as your cheaper alternative to costly lash extensions that you’d have applied one-by-one by a professional. In a salon service, each lash (made of either mink or synthetic fiber) is attached to the lash line using a semi-permanent glue — which typically takes about two hours. In addition to the initial time investment, it also requires touch-ups every three to four weeks, plus tons of maintenance in-between including conditioning, combing, and avoiding mascara.
Though this can be an excellent option for some, applying individual lashes at home can be a great low commitment option for a night out, at a fraction of the cost. Available at any major drugstore from brands like Ardell and Kiss, these individual lashes are intended to be applied in conjunction with your mascara and eyeliner and removed at the end of the night with the rest of your makeup. Although they're great for special occasions, applying a few individual lashes is an easy and quick way to look more awake on a day-to-day basis too.
The best part: While applying individuals may seem like an overwhelming task best left up to beauty YouTubers and professionals, the truth is that it's much easier than applying your traditional strip of falsies — we swear.
Ahead, we break down how to choose the right individual lashes for you, how exactly to apply them correctly the first time, and the best way to remove them without damaging your natural lashes in the process.
How to Choose the Right Individual Lashes for You
There are a ton of options in the drugstore, but generally speaking, false lashes are sold in short, medium, and long lengths and many brands offer single-layer or double-layer options depending on the volume you want.
To choose the right lashes for you, you’ll want to start by noticing some qualities about your own lashes. The best way to ensure your individual lashes look natural and seamless is by matching them to your natural lash texture and length. If you have light, fine, straight, or short lashes you’ll want to stick with a short or medium length, and the single-layer clusters. If you have thick, wavy or curly, or long lashes, the double-layer or long option may be more suitable.
Another identifier to pay attention to is how the lashes are bound at the base of each cluster. Those with knots will have a little clump at the base of the cluster to give more of a base for the lash glue to stick to. However, if you have fine or light lashes, these knots can show up in your final look, so for most, the “knot-free” option is best.
Another item you may have to shop for: lash glue. Some packs of lashes come with the brand’s own lash glue, but the makeup artist favorite is Duo, which comes in clear or black. You can use clear if you are doing a more natural eye makeup look, or black if you plan on doing a more dramatic cat-eye or smokey eye to make sure the glue isn’t visible in your final look.
Exactly How to Apply Individual Lashes
Whether you’re doing a natural eye shadow look like a simple sweep of bronzer over the lid, or a dramatic smokey eye, individual lashes can elevate any style. Here’s exactly how to apply them in under 10 minutes.
1. Apply your mascara first.
After you've applied your eyeshadow and eyeliner, apply a few coats of a thickening or volumizing mascara like, L’Oreal Lash Paradise. Applying mascara before the individual lashes are applied will give the lashes a stronger base to stick to and hide behind. Plus, applying mascara after the lashes are already applied often causes the clusters to lift, tilt, or bump out of place ruining the work you’ve already done to get them there.
2. Let the glue get tacky.
Apply a small dollop of glue to the back of your hand or in the plastic tray the lashes come in. Wait for 30 to 60 seconds to allow the glue to get nice and tacky — you’ll know when the glue is ready when the color starts to change and the outer layer starts to thicken. This is important to ensure the lash instantly bonds once it's put in place. If the glue is too runny, the lash won’t hold in place and will be more likely to shift or tilt.
3. Tilt your head back and apply lashes from the outside, in with a tweezer.
After you've applied mascara and your glue is tacky, tilt your chin up like you are singing out of a choir book. This will expose your eyelid and upper lash line easier than trying to open one eye at a time. Using angled tweezers or lash tweezers, tap the base of the lash cluster into the glue. Then drop the lash along your lashes starting at the outside of the eye and working inward toward the center of the eye. If the glue is tacky enough you should be able to drop the cluster in place and leave it alone for a few seconds to dry. You are aiming for the glue to bind to the base of your lashes NOT your eyelid skin.
After a few seconds, you can pick up another cluster and drop it next to the first. If you're looking for a subtle flirty look, apply three to four clusters on the outside corner of the eye. If you want a fuller or more dramatic look, you can build along the entire lash line towards the inner corner of the eye. As you get closer to the inner corner (where the lashes are usually fine and short), you may need to trim the lashes to mimic the natural lash line. If you mess up or don’t like the placement of any of the clusters don’t fret: They are easy to pluck off with your fingers. Just try again with a new dip in the glue.
4. Let them dry, then clamp.
After you've placed the desired number of lashes and feel good about the placement, give your lashes a good 10 minutes to dry completely. Go ahead and finish the rest of your makeup or style your hair. Then come back to the lashes for this final pro tip: Use a lash curler or your thumb and pointer fingers to clamp the false lashes into your natural lashes. The stickiness from the mascara will grab the false lashes and help to make the false ones blend invisibly with your natural lashes.
How long do individual lashes last?
Individual lashes are really only meant to last for as long as your makeup look lasts — roughly 12 hours max, depending on what activities your day or night has in store. Duo Glue is water-soluble so if you cry, wash your face, get rained on, or jump in a pool, it’s possible that the glue will loosen and you may lose a few of your clusters. But, if you can prevent any of these things from happening, then you can be sure they will last throughout the night!
How to remove individual lashes:
When you're ready to remove your individual lashes at the end of the night there are a few safe ways to do so. Soak a cotton pad in an oil-based makeup remover and hold over your closed eye for a few seconds. This will loosen up the lash glue as well as start to break down your eye makeup. Then continue to remove the rest of your makeup regularly. You can also opt for a cleansing balm or coconut oil — both of these will break down the glue and you’ll notice the lashes start to fall off just as your eye makeup starts to disappear.
Whether or not you're always diligent about taking off your makeup, removing your lashes before going to sleep is a step that shouldn't be missed. Leaving pieces of glue on the lash for an extended period of time can cause dirt and bacteria to stick to the eye area, which can lead to infection. Note: This is another reason to use an actual remover, instead of picking the clusters off with your fingers. Removing your lashes gently will also protect your hair follicle so you don't compromise the health of your natural lashes.
After removing all your lashes toss them in the garbage. Individual lashes are intended for one-time use only — luckily, one pack should provide you enough lashes for two to three applications.