Photo: amazon.com

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

Back in the early 19th century, stylish women in Europe highlighted their eyelashes by applying a mixture of residual soot from oil-burning lamps and kohl from powdered charcoal.

Today, however, modern cosmetic firms have developed complex mascara formulas that they claim can thicken, lengthen, curl, illuminate, condition and darken your lashes in one way or another to make them absolutely irresistible without having to resort to lamp residues.

But with more than a 1,000 brands and varieties of mascara on the market, it isn’t always easy to know which one is right for you.

Basically, all mascaras work the same way, coating lashes to make them appear thicker and longer.

However, there’s a lot more to the various types of mascara than meets the eye.

Different mascaras create different effects.

The formula composition and brush shape are the key determining factors that should be considered when choosing a mascara.

Formulas which are intended to thicken lashes work by coating them with a substance that adheres to them.

These often contain more wax and glycerin than other mascaras.

By the same token, mascaras designed to lengthen generally contain fibers or tiny bits of mica which stick to the tips and create an illusion of extension.

There are also formulas which cause lashes to curl, formulas for sensitive eyes and formulas that are waterproof.

If you tend to have a problem with clumping, try using a mascara primer. It will prime your lashes for mascara to stick to your lashes, and not crumble onto your face.

And, there are formulas with vitamin E and other hydrating compositions, which can help nourish lashes.

Brush shape usually complements the formula to give more effective results.

You can tell a lot by a mascara by the shape of the wand.

Straight wands are primarily used for lengthening lashes, while spiraled or pineconed brushes tend to add volume.

Curved wands are designed to push lashes up and give them more curl.

Some women prefer to curl their lashes with spoons or curling apparatuses.

This helps to accentuate your lashes and open your eyes, but you should never curl them when you are wearing mascara.

Not only will it make the mascara flake, but it can also cause your lashes to break because they are more brittle when they are coated.

Color is another factor which should be considered when choosing a mascara, and generally speaking, the color of your lashes should be closely linked to hair color.

Dark-haired women can use a black mascara, but if you are blond or have light brown hair, you might want to opt for a brown or brown-black tone.

Dark black lashes might be better suited for nightwear, while subtler browns go well in the day.

No matter what brand or style of mascara you use, all the experts recommended that you not keep a tube for more than two or three months, and never share mascara with another person because this can lead to eye infections.

Most mascaras today are made so that you can wear just one coat and still have noticeable results.

If you do want to add a second coat, wait a few minutes before applying so that the first application will be dry and you can avoid a bunched effect.

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