The Surprising Makeup Product For Long Lashes & Wide-Awake Eyes (Not Mascara!)

As much as I wish I could roll out of bed with fanned, feathery lashes, it takes a few swipes of mascara to coax them back to life. Even on the days I don’t wear eye makeup, I still like to curl my lashes in the morning so they stay lifted—a trick many swear by to enhance their features without a stitch of pigment—but my lashes definitely start to wilt without a waxy substance to mold them into place. While drooping lashes is not high on my list of concerns, if there’s an easy trick to help them hold their curl, well, I’m all ears (eyes?). 

Behold, a makeup artist’s trick for long, fluttery lashes: Not a tube of mascara, but a shimmer-free highlighter. Allow us to explain.

The product this makeup artist loves for curled lashes.

Fans of the elusive “no-makeup makeup” know well: A creamy highlighter is an all-time favorite. Not only does it provide a dewy, dolphin-like sheen across your cheekbones but you can also use it as a clear lip gloss, an eye gloss, and a brow gel. It’s truly a versatile product that puts in the work—just perfect for all the minimalist makeup dreamers out there.

And if you’re hoping for a naturally fluttery, just woke up like this, set of lashes? Again, highlighter is your stunt double. “It holds the curl all day and adds shine without having to use any mascara,” says makeup artist Alexandra Compton, product development manager at clean beauty retailer Credo

See, coating your lashes with an oily balm is not so new: In fact, many people swear that conditioning the lashes before applying mascara helps the formula stay on longer and keeps your lashes from drying out (essentially, it’s like a primer or clear mascara). People typically gravitate towards formulas with petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, as it imparts quite a bit of shine; if you’re one to avoid petrolatum, though, a balm-y highlighter is your best bet—clean options come chock-full of conditioning ingredients, like castor oil, shea butter, and plant-based wax.  

Although, you don’t want to opt for a glitzy highlighter here: A simple, clear balm can give you that glassy effect without flecks of glitter stuck in your lashes. “Tower 28 Super Dew is the best shimmer-free highlighter,” says Compton. (We concur—it’s a do-it-all product.) 

To apply, either rake spoolie or small paintbrush across the pan, making sure to saturate all the bristles. Sweep it onto the lashes with light strokes until they’re completely coated. (You can use your fingers instead to apply the highlighter, just make sure that they’re clean.) Gently squeeze your lashes with a curler and finish off with extra highlighter for more shine. 

To give your lashes that extra oomph without reaching for mascara, a clear, shimmer-free highlighter adds just the right amount of shine and hold. A few swipes, a quick curl, and they’re as Bambi-like as ever.

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