How to apply lashes: from strips to magnetic and individual eyelashes

The experts reveal how to apply lashes for natural-looking flutter then remove and re-use like a pro.

False lashes, tweezers and lash comb
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I'll level with you: Few beauty editors are less qualified to tell you how to apply lashes than me. I've struggled my way around just about every genre of artificial eyelash over the years - from subtle individuals to those weighty falsies beloved of bovine-eyed reality TV stars. But through a combination of croissant-level butterfingers and toddler-level lack of focus, I've pretty much resigned myself to a false lash-free existence. 

Then again, look at it another way, and that past failure could make me the perfect candidate to research and write a guide to mastering this beauty skill. Because trust me, If I can follow these expert tips and finally break the back of how to apply lashes, then so can you. Think of it as a journey we are taking together, and - spoiler alert - one of us may be winking an unreasonably fluttery eye at you as she types this very sentence.  

Are you ready to learn how to apply lashes? From traditional strips to the latest magnetic eyelash technology, it's never too late to learn with this expert guide. 

How to make any false lashes look natural 

When learning how to apply lashes, there are some universal tricks you can apply to any eyelash product. 

After boosting natural length and volume, the aim of the game with false lashes is to make them appear somewhat real (at least to the untrained eye) otherwise, you'd be better offloading on the best mascara or dedicating your time to learning how to grow eyelashes instead. 

With this in mind, Saffron Hughes, a makeup artist at FalseEyelashes.co.uk, reveals her top five tips for natural-looking lash application. 

Think about positioning
"If you make the mistake of applying your false eyelashes to your eyelids, this can have a big impact on the finished look. Always ensure you apply the falsies as close as possible to your actual lashes otherwise, you will be left with a noticeable empty space between your real and false eyelashes."

Blend with make-up
"
It's your preference whether you add mascara before or after application. For strip lashes, I advise to apply mascara before applying your lashes. The layer of mascara underneath makes it easier to blend the two. You can apply some liquid liner along the upper lash line to hide any seams from the band. Use liquid or gel eyeliner as a pencil can cause you to drag across the top edge of your eyelash band, causing it to move."

Fit to your eye shape
"
Before gluing, always test how your lashes fit on your eyes. If they are too long, carefully trim off a few hairs until you’re happy with the length. Alternatively, choose a  set that is made for your eye type. Downturned eyes can be boosted with falsies that have thicker lashes on their outer ends to raise the outer corners of eyes."

 Use the right glue
"Clear tone adhesive is ideal for application of strip or individual lashes. The formulas are normally white to start with, then dry to a clear color making any mistakes invisible. The more durable the glue, the stronger the bond will be. You need your lashes to stay put without peeling off after a couple of hours."

Pick clear lash bands.
"
Lash bands effect the comfort and fit of your falsies. A popular option for a natural look is ‘invisible’ lash bands, these are completely clear in color instead of being black. Once applied, they are undetectable."

How to apply strip lashes

Strip lashes are false eyelashes arranged on a band to create a long, fluttery lash-line. They are hugely popular and, as such, come in an almost infinite variety of styles, from subtle wispy looks to intense drag queen fabulousness. Once glued on, they should last the day, or more likely night, and if removed with care, can usually be re-used up to ten times. 

There's no point in denying that strip lashes can be tricky little blighters - much like learning how to shape eyebrows, you probably will need to practice a few times before you feel totally confident with your skills. Once you have mastered application, strip lashes are a fast route to high-impact glamour, and make-up artist for Eylure, Sara Sordillo, has all the expertise you need to get started. 

"When picking natural-looking false lashes, you want to go for more fluttery and wispy styles that don’t look too uniform," says Sarah. "Styles that have a W shape with dips and raises in the lengths help to seamlessly blend with your own lashes and will look more subtle."

"If you're in a hurry to get ready, then Eylure’s Pre Glued lashes are lifesaving. They are single-use, but you don't need to wait for the glue to activate or dry. Once the lashes are removed from the tray, they are ready to be stuck on, and they really do last all night. My favorite pair are Fluttery Light No.117 Pre Glued."

Eylure Fluttery Light

(Image credit: Eylure)

For traditional glue-on lashes, follow Sara's five-step technique:

Step 1. New lashes are stiff, which can cause lifting. Give the band a little wiggle to flex the band and make it more malleable. This should allow the lashes to hug the curve of your lid.

Step 2. Hold the false lash along your natural lash line. Sometimes false lashes are longer and need to be trimmed. Measure both lashes as often our eyes are slightly different.  

Step 3. Apply a line of glue on the top of the lash band and add an extra small ball on either end, as this is often where the lash starts to lift. 

Step 4. Look down at a mirror, not straight on. This means that the eyelid is smooth and easier for the lash to stick to. If you close one eye at a time, your lid puckers and will mean that parts of the false lash won't stick on properly.

Step 5. Pop the lashes down and wait 30 seconds - don't waft them, just let them rest.

Velour lashes Effortless kit

(Image credit: Velour)

Velour Lashes The Effortless Kit

Eylure naturals

(Image credit: Eylure)

How to apply individual lashes

If you're new to false eyelashes or concerned about looking unnatural, individual lashes are a great place to start. You can apply as few or as many as you like, and they create less weight overall when applied, so you can avoid that heavy-lidded look some falsies can create. 

As they have to be attached one by one, individual eyelashes can take a little more time than strips or magnetic lashes, but the payoff in natural flutter and longevity of wear is worth it. Fancy giving it a go? Follow Daisy-Faye Challis or Ardell lashes' individual lash masterclass:

Step 1. "Curl lashes before application for that extra lift."

Step 2. "Ensure lashes are clean before application. For one-day, individuals mascara can be applied at the end of the process, but this might affect your adhesive, so move with caution!"

Step 3. "Pick up each knotted lash with tweezers to help with precision application."

Step 4. "Dip the knotted end into adhesive and allow it to go slightly tacky (how long this takes can vary between brands, so ensure you follow your product's directions)"

Step 5. "Start at the outer corner of the eye and work inwards towards the nose, applying lashes as close to the lash line as possible for a seamless and natural look. For more of a 'cat eye' appearance, only apply individuals to the outer half of the eye."

"Products that contain oil including mascara, foundation, and makeup remover can affect lash adhesives, explains Daisy-Faye. 

"For longer-wear individuals, we recommend using a water-based cleanser and carefully cleaning around the lashes with a cotton bud. During wear, try not to rub your eyes and avoid sleeping on your face or using a sleep mask. Sleeping on your back is best for lash lovers!"

 

 

Ardell individual lashes

(Image credit: Ardell)

Ardell Duralash Double Up Soft Touch Individuals

How to apply magnetic lashes

Magnetic lashes are relatively new to the false lash scene but have won many fans for their glue-free application and ability to be re-used as many times as you like. Unsurprisingly, they work via magnetic force, either with charged eyeliner the lashes adhere to or, more commonly, via tiny magnets based in the band of the lash band to 'sandwich' natural eyelashes in between the falsies.  

"Applying magnetic lashes can take some time to master, but practice makes perfect," advises Saffron. "Unlike strip lashes, if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s easy to pull the strips apart and reposition. Don’t use tweezers to apply as the magnets will stick to them, making it a more difficult job!"

"These are three simple steps to follow to guarantee a seamless blend with your natural lashes, leaving you with impressive results."

Step 1. "First, apply a coat of mascara to your natural lashes."

Step 2. "Once that’s dry, carefully remove the upper lash from the tray and gently place it on top of your eyelashes. Make sure it’s as close to your natural line as possible."

Step 3. "Holding the upper lash in place, slowly remove the lower lash from the tray and place it underneath your natural lash line with your eye open, until it connects with the upper lash."

Freeze frame magna lash

(Image credit: Freeze Frame)

Kiss Magnetic Eyeliner & Lash Kit

(Image credit: Kiss)

How to remove false eyelashes safely

Ok, the party's over - and we're all sensible sorts here, aren't we? The type who removes their makeup no matter how late it is and wouldn't dream of falling straight into bed and smearing their pricy silk pillowcase with cosmetic gunk (ahem). After working hard to get those false lashes on perfectly, your next challenge is getting those babies off without damaging them or - worse - your own lashes below. 

"Whilst there is nothing more tempting than ripping off your false eyelashes for quick removal, you may take some of your precious natural lashes with them if you are not gentle," says Saffron. "Take a few extra moments to soak a cotton bud in an oil-based cleanser and lightly rub against the lash adhesive to loosen it. Repeat until the lash strip or clusters loosen enough to lift away without pulling on your skin or natural hairs."

Removing magnetic lashes takes a gentle touch, too, says Saffron. "Be careful not to pull the eyelashes straight off. This can be painful and may also reduce the longevity of your lashes. Instead, use your index finger and thumb to softly slide the magnets away from each other. The trick is to remove them from the sides, from one corner to the other, until you feel the magnets come apart and pull down towards your mouth. Focusing on each magnetic bond at a time will make them detach easily." 

The added benefit of caring for your lashes this way is it means you'll get far more wear out of them. "If you look after glue-on lashes, you can use them about seven times, or even more if you're good at keeping them clean," says Saffron. 

"Just gently peel off the glue after use. You can soften the glue with a cotton bud, and micellar water run along with the band, and it should start to come away. If you are using mascara on top of the lashes, make sure this is not waterproof. That way, you can use micellar water on a cotton bud to remove the build-up and keep the lashes looking fresh." 

Fiona McKim

As woman&home's Senior Beauty Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about a brilliant beauty find on womanandhome.com or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair dye experiments and cute shih-tzus)

Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013, working under legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know about the industry (clue: learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). 


In a previous life, Fiona studied journalism back home in bonnie Scotland and honed her skills as a magazine features writer, with a brief and terrifying stint on the showbiz gossip pages of a tabloid newspaper in between. She's a skincare fanatic who can’t resist adding an extra step to her routine if it’s all the rage in Japan, loves fragrance, has fun with makeup and never turns down the chance to test a new hair tool. Basically, she loves it all.

When not slathering herself in self tan or squinting at a tiny ingredients list on a moisturiser, you’ll probably find Fiona enjoying something to do with food - cooking it, eating it, cajoling her friends into trekking across London to try a hyped pop-up in a dirty car park.