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False eyelashes are like the stiletto heels of makeup—they’re cute and add an extra hint of glam to any look, but for many, they can also bring about a bit of anxiety. Whether you plan on using strips or individuals, applying false lashes is not exactly an easy task. So, since we already know that sticking a clump of glue on an eyelash strip and hoping for the best isn’t exactly the best way to go about things, we spoke to Advanced Celebrity Lash Extensionist Alicia Hunter for a bit of advice on how to apply fake eyelashes like a true professional.

The Lashes

Let’s start off by talking about the two different types of false eyelashes: strips and individual extensions. Strip eyelashes are probably the most common type of extension and the easiest for the average person to apply. They’re also extremely affordable and can usually be found in any drugstore, sometimes at prices as low as $2. While strip lashes are rumored to give more of an artificial look, they come in a variety of different styles—with some being a little less thick and dramatic—so you won’t have any difficulty finding a pair that comes close to matching your natural lash line.

Individual lashes, on the other hand, come as tiny clusters of hair that are to be applied one by one. The perks are that they can appear very realistic and blend in better with your natural lashes. They also come in handy when you have a few sparse spots in your lash line and you just want to take a second to fill in the blank spaces. The only downside, though, is that applying them can be a little tedious and difficult, which may require outside help. But luckily for you, there are professional lash artists like Alicia who specialize in applying individual lashes. “Applying any faux lash can be frustrating, but practice definitely makes perfect,” says Alicia. “While strips and clusters can be applied by the individual wearer, the individual extensions must be applied by a highly trained and experienced professional.”

How to Apply

For anyone who has never tried or is intimidated by the thought of applying faux lashes, Alicia recommends checking out a few online tutorials (like this one) or heading to your local mall to get a few tips from the employees at any beauty store.

“I can recommend that for the beginner, it’s a great idea to either watch a few YouTube tutorials, which are very helpful, or head into a department store or MAC store and have the makeup artists there apply strips or clusters and ask them to show you how,” she says. “It’s a hands-on lesson, easier to get the hang of when you’re actually applying them rather than just reading about how-to.”

Once you’re ready to apply them on your own, Alicia’s steps are as follows:

  1. Start with a clean, dry eye area and curl your natural lashes with a lash curler. If you have naturally light-colored lashes, apply one coat of mascara on your upper lashes.
  2. Take one strip from the package. Hold it up to your lid and make sure it fits your eye. If it’s too long, trim from the shorter inner-eye side.
  3. Apply a very thin line of strip glue directly onto the lash strip (avoiding the lashes themselves).  
  4. Let the glue dry for about 20 seconds—if it’s too wet it won’t stick; if it’s too dry, it won’t stick either. The glue should be tacky.
  5. Getting as close as possible to your lash line, gently press from the inner corner out to the outer corner of your eye (you can use the end of a thin makeup brush to scoot it closer before the glue sets). The goal is to leave little to no space between the lash strip and your lash line. 
  6. Let it dry with that eye closed for about a minute so any excess glue doesn’t travel up to your lid. If it does, remove it with a little makeup remover on a Q-tip. (Because this can happen, make sure you never apply eye shadow first, or else you’d have to wipe it all off and reapply!)
  7. Repeat this process on the other eye.
  8. Let both dry a few minutes, then proceed with liner, shadow (if desired), and one or two coats of mascara.

Just in case you make a mistake, Alicia recommends just removing the eyelash and waiting a minute or two to reset it. You may also want to keep an extra pack (or two) on hand just in case. Of course, we don’t expect you to be a pro at application your first time around but practice makes perfect, and hopefully these tips will help! 

Removal and Cleaning

It wouldn’t be the end of the world if you fell asleep in your lashes after a long night out. But, according to Alicia, you might still want to take the extra time to remove and clean your lashes before you go to bed.

“Although you can sleep in strips and clusters, I don’t recommend it,” she says. “I always remove mine before bed and, if I’m being good and frugal, I’ll gently wash them with a little baby shampoo and water (to wash off mascara and glue residue) and put them back into their package and let them dry overnight and before I reuse them.”

Removing lashes can also be a little tricky sometimes, especially when lash glue ends up getting stuck to your natural lashes. To remove your lashes properly and painlessly, dab a cotton swab or pad with some non-oil-based makeup remover and gently hold it against your eye for a few moments. The lash should then pull off pretty easily.

Remember: repetition breeds perfection. Follow Alicia’s tips to up your faux lash game and, pretty soon, the entire process will be second nature to you. Good luck!

Danielle is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in English and minoring in Sociology. You can usually find her dividing her time between being Campus Correspondent of Her Campus UGA, binge-watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix and daydreaming about being one of Beyonce's backup dancers. If you want to know more about Danielle, you can follow her on Instagram (@danielleknecole_) or Twitter (@DanielleKnecole).