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8 Mascara Mistakes that Make Your Eyelashes Look Clumpy

Ever wonder why your lashes look so spidery? These mistakes make your mascara a clumpy mess.

1 / 8

Your mascara is past its prime

Every time you pull the wand out of the tube, air gets in the mascara, drying out your product and breaking down the molecules inside, says Jessica Mae, founder, creative director, and makeup artist of WarPaint International Beauty Agency. “The texture can completely change in that tube, and bacteria gets in there,” she says. “The formula will bond together, and the drier it gets, the tackier the formula will become, so it won’t spread out over lashes as easily.” Toss your mascara ten to fourteen weeks after you open it to keep your lashes clump-free.

2 / 8

The mascara texture is hard to work with

“Mascara formulas that have a wetter texture tend to clump more easily if you are applying too much,” says Mae. “Same with the ones that are dry or matte and almost sticky.” Finding that perfect medium could involve some trial and error because every brand is so different, she says. Test a few before settling on a go-to product, keeping in mind that the formula tends to be wettest when it’s fresh. (Don’t miss these other mistakes that make your makeup look sloppy.)

3 / 8

You have a big, fluffy brush

A new, wet formula will be particularly hard to work with if the brush has big, soft bristles, says Neah Williams, Blushington Makeup & Beauty Lounge Upper East Side artist. “They tend to pick up mascara because they’re designed to add volume on the lashes,” she says. (Click here for more secrets makeup artists won’t tell you.)

4 / 8

Your brush is too full

With too much mascara on the brush, it’s easy for clumps to form. “The best way to get rid of excess on the brush is to lightly brush the excess on a tissue before the application,” says Williams. You could also scrape the brush along the side of the tube or use a clean wand to scrape off the extra product, says Mae. Then use the second brush to do your other eye instead of dipping the original wand back in the tube, she says.

5 / 8

You sweep the brush straight up

Wiggling your mascara wand as you apply your makeup will give you a more even layer without the unsightly clumps. Hold your brush to the root of the lashes, then wiggle it back and forth a bit as you make your way up to the tip of the lash, says Mae. “It helps get the product on it instead of sweeping, sweeping, sweeping, and layering the product on,” she says.

6 / 8

You layer up too quickly

Big, bold lashes come from adding multiple coats of mascara, but don’t rush through the layers. (Use these makeup tips to make your eyes pop.) Fresh mascara has a slippery texture that will mesh your lashes together if you don’t give it some breathing room. Wait 30 to 60 seconds between layers so the mascara can harden a bit into a texture that’s easier to work with, says Mae. “It gives the product an opportunity to set up a bit without getting too hard,” she says. “It’s still tacky but not wet, so the new layer will adhere to the old layer without sliding all over the place.”

7 / 8

You do heavy touch-ups to your lashes

Mascara hardens your lashes a bit after it dries, which isn’t the best canvas for a fresh coat. Applying more over mascara you applied hours ago could make your lashes look spidery instead of giving them the volume boost you’d hoped for. “Your lashes on your eye are typically soft and fluffy, and it makes it easy to apply the mascara because it fluidly sweeps over the lashes,” says Mae. “You’ve got that dry, kind of brittle texture to your lashes once you’ve got the mascara on there.” If you do need to refresh your eye makeup, avoid clumps by wiping off the excess and then applying a light touch-up rather than running the brush fully through your lashes, she says.

8 / 8

You don’t bother combing out clumps

If clumps do start to form, no need to settle on spidery lashes. Pull out a lash comb, which is a small, wire comb that can separate your lashes. “Taking the lash comb through it, starting at the base of the lashes and up through the tip can remove any excess product or get rid of any clumps,” says Mae. In a pinch, you can also (carefully!) comb through the clumps with a safety pin or sewing needle.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.