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5 Major Mascara Mistakes You’re Probably Making (and What to Do Instead)

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Eyelashes are tricky. For every fierce and flirty look you’ve created with mascara, you’ve probably had an equally disastrous experience. Avoid these common mascara blunders, and you’ll never have to deal with clumping or smudging again.

Mistake #1: You're Using the Wrong Wand

Your new mascara’s just not getting the job done—so you should just cut your losses and trash it, right? Nope. The reason your mascara isn’t giving you the volume or length it promised could very well be because of a sucky wand and not the formula.

The fix: Find a wand that works—and stick with it.  “Mascara is so much about the wand,” says Lauren Cosenza, a New York City-based makeup artist. If you buy one with a great wand and it can fit into another mascara, you can sterilize the wand with rubbing alcohol and use it with another mascara, says Cosenza. We’ll go ahead and categorize that one as a game-changer. Our favorite wand happens to be the one that comes with Benefit They’re Real! Mascara ($23, sephora.com). The tiny bristles grab every last lash, and the domed tip helps to curl and lift lashes.

Mistake #2: You're Pumping the Wand Way Too Hard

Ugh, there’s nothing worse than when your mascara dries out a week after you buy it. We hate to say it, but if you furiously pump your mascara wand in and out of the tube to coat the wand, then this one’s totally your fault. “Mascara dries out primarily because air gets into the tube every time you open it,” says Susan Posnick, makeup artist and founder of Susan Posnick Cosmetics.

The fix: Swirl your wand around inside the tube instead of pumping it in and out—you’ll get 360-degree coverage without being wasteful, says Posnick.

Mistake #3: You're Layering on Too Much Too Soon

When it comes to mascara, it’s easy to get layer-happy. But Cosenza says that applying wet mascara on top of wet mascara won’t give you more length or more volume. “It just pushes product around,” she says.

The fix: It’s all about patience. Wait for mascara to dry a bit in between coats, says Cosenza. That’s because you need some grip to apply additional layers without getting clumps.

Mistake #4: You Keep Getting Mascara All Over Your Face

Always notice small black mascara flecks under your eyes as the day goes on? You’re probably skipping a crucial application step.

The fix: Comb through your lashes thoroughly during application using an eyelash comb, such as Sephora’s Contoured Eyelash Comb ($14, sephora.com). This will prevent some of that fall-out that starts to happen during the day by getting rid of any excess at the get-go. Use the same upward motion that you would use to apply your mascara, and remember to comb after every fresh layer, says Sonia Kashuk, makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty.

Mistake #5: You Haven't Upgraded Your Technique in 10 Years

You don’t need to change what’s not broken, right? Well, that might not be the case. “It’s one of those things that no one tells you, but as you get older your lashes get straighter,” says Kashuk. “They tend to drop quicker than they used to.”

The fix: Hold your mascara a tiny bit longer at the base of your lash to create a more dramatic and lasting lift, says Kashuk.

Watch this video to find out how to make your lashes look thicker in just 30 seconds:

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More from Women’s Health:
12 Mascara Tricks for Flirty Lashes
The Best Mascara for Any Lash Look
6 Genius Eyeliner Hacks You NEED to Try

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