Mascara is the frenemy of beauty products. It’s messy, it’s high maintenance, and you'll probably get stuck washing it off in your bathtub at the end of the night. You put up with it because it makes you feel confident and cool, but let’s be honest: If it disappeared tomorrow, would you really miss it at all?
If you truly adore mascara, that’s great—more for you. (Do you also like dating guys in bands? Or, like, actors?) But if you just don’t have the patience to stay friends with an attention-seeking product, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to end it. Kick it to the curb. You can have the same lashes, sans the eye soot. I haven’t worn the stuff in years, and my eyes look prettier, require almost no effort, and bug me way less than they did back when I was piling on the Great Lash.
I tried all kinds of stuff to kick my mascara habit, and now that I've succeeded, I would love to pass along the good news. Below, a few options for if/when you decide to quit:
If your current mascara is two coats of Diorshow Black Out...
Get eyelash extensions
So you want to wake up looking like Beyoncé. Mé too. We’re part of the “maybe I’m slightly over the top, but who cares because I look good” club. *high fives* For us, nothing short of eyelash extensions will do. They are, simply put, the best things ever.
Given the choice between making out with Bill Nye (Science Guy and Perfect Man) and having lash extensions forever, I would choose the lash extensions, no hesitation. They’re that good. They’re not cheap—well, some are; if you’re getting a set applied for $35, though, you better read the Yelp reviews first—but all you have to do is go in twice a month and lie down on a table for 45 minutes while a nice lady glues between 50 and 100 tiny false lashes to the ends of your natural ones. Then you get up looking oh-so-foxy and go about your business without ever having to worry that your eyes are anything other than insanely gorgeous. If you truly want to get serious, you can also dye your lashes so that they’re jet black in addition to being six feet long. Personally, when I do both I am in a perpetual good mood and am basically invincible.
Pro tip: Ask the aesthetician to do three different lash lengths from your inner to outer corners and you’ll always have the winged look without the eyeliner.
Cost per month: Could be as cheap as $30, but sketchiness abounds, so it should probably be about $80–$100
If your current mascara is Maybelline Full 'N Soft...
Dye your lashes
Before I got serious with extensions (Love of my life! Fire of my… uh… irises!), I was very into just tinting my lashes, then coating them with a little vitamin E to make them look thicker. If your lashes are relatively long but light at the ends—and most peoples’ are lighter than they think—lash dyeing is a game changer. It lasts for about six weeks, and you might not even feel like mascara does much of anything extra for you once they're tinted. Ask for carbon-black dye; some places offer blue-black or brown, but they’re usually less natural-looking.
Cost per month: Between $20 and $40, depending on your location (as always, please go somewhere reputable)
If your current mascara is secondary to your obsession with your lash curler...
Perm your lashes
I am extremely excited to be the person who gets to tell you this, because you are going to be so happy. In fact, if I were in the room with you right now, we could both go “Squeeeeee!” really loudly in a second and then go get ice cream.
ANYWAY, I have two words for you: 1) Lash, and 2) Perm. Regular hair perms may only exist to cull the weakest cosmetology school students from the herd, but lash perms? Oh, they’re fabulous. You just go in, they curl them the way you like them, et voilà! They are like that all the time for at least a month, maybe two. It is just so, so good. And it’s cheap! Think of the time savings! Think of the freedom! Think of the Baskin-Robbins! Seriously, let’s go. I will get Butter Pecan and you can maybe try a seasonal flavor if that’s what you’re into?
Cost per month: Between $15 and $45, again depending on your location
If your current mascara is made from the tears of women crying for freedom from the patriarchy...
Try castor oil
Heyyyyy, buddy! How’s it going? You maybe wanna put down that PETA sign for a second and talk? I like your vegan clogs! You been applying almond ashes or avocado pit scrapings or whatever it is Rainbow Foods Co-op is selling as a 'mascara alternative' these days? Yeah...please stop doing that. It’s just running down your face and probably giving you an eye infection. I know this, because I was once like you. In many ways, I am you. So take a hint from me, your personal Ghost Of Getting Less And Less Radicalized As You Get Older Future, and just put some castor oil on your lashes with a clean mascara wand. It’ll make them healthy, shiny, and a little darker, too. (The Kardashians use it.) Oh, and that Tobias guy? Don’t date him—trust me, we regret it later.
Cost per month: Half a carbon offset and an hour volunteering at your neighborhood’s organic, macrobiotic, soy-free garden
If your current mascara is made of chemicals and cold, hard cash...
Actually, you’re probably already using Latisse! Congratulations on having embraced Technology and joining us in a brave new world where we use glaucoma medicine for ludicrously expensive off-brand vanity projects! I tested this stuff for about six months (for work, at an old job). After about three weeks, it did make my eyelashes long; it also turned my eyelids a terrifying, livid shade of purple.
Cost per month: Your eyelids, your soul, and around $120
Anything else I'm not thinking of/don't know about? Tell me in the comments!
Photo by Mathea Millman.