I frequently hear other dancers lament how hard it is to learn to apply a strip of false eyelashes for performances. For me, they aren’t really optional – I have hooded eyes, which leaves me little to no space for dramatic eyeliner, AND low eyebrows, which leaves me not a lot of space for eye-popping eye shadow. If I want my eyes to be big and expressive (a must for performing) false lashes are essential. They do take some practice. Fortunately, they are re-useable, which means you can buy a pair and try putting them on several times in a low-pressure situation, instead of breaking them out for the first time when you have a gig. I started off with Ardell 305 lashes, which only go on the outer half of your eye, before working my way up to a full strip. These days I usually go for Eylure 121 lashes, which aren’t too long (I don’t want them to hit my eyebrows when I open my eyes, which is a thing that happens to me with some lashes) BUT the outer third of the lashes is a double layer, which gives them extra oomph.


Application tips:

  • Unless you are using demi lashes like the Ardell 305s, you are supposed to trim them the right length for your eyes. Hold one up to your eye so the outer edge of the band is at your outer eye corner, and make a note of where your eyelashes start to disappear close to the inner corner of your eyes. That’s where you should snip the band of the lashes.
  • Most strip lashes are longest at the outer edge. You can get more of a sideswept, winged-out appearance to the lash by applying it a littler further out on your lashline, or a more flirty, straight-up wide-eyed appearance by moving it in a little. (I like winged-out, but then, see above re: low eyebrows). Once you master getting the lashes on your lashline, getting a feel for how far out you want the placement is the thing that will take the most practice.
  • Many lashes come with glue. I still recommend buying a tube of Duo brand lash glue – the one that dries clear. If you have latex sensitivities buy the Duo latex-free.
  • Some people really like to apply lashes using a pair of tweezers, or one of those funny little plastic lash applicators. I prefer using my fingers. Try all three methods and see what works for you.
  • If you’re applying fresh, never-worn lashes, wrap them around your pinky finger or a makeup brush for a few seconds, and/or roll the lash band back and forth, to take the stiffness out of the band and give it a curve.

OK, here’s where my method is a little weird. Almost any video or article about applying lashes gives the same advice – apply the glue to the lash band, and wait about 30 seconds for it to get really tacky before trying to put it on. The idea is that it will grip better and not move from where you put it. Which is a valid approach, and if it works for you, stick with it. I’ve never heard of anyone doing it the way I do, which is: apply the glue (I’ve used both regular Duo and the latex-free, and they both work with this method) to the left lash and put it down. Apply glue to the right lash band and put it down. Immediately pick up the left lash (about 10 seconds should have elapsed). Tilt your head back so you can half-close your eyes and still see yourself in the mirror, grip the lash at each end with thumb and forefinger, and bring the lash band down on your own eye lashes, close to your lash line. Using your lashes as a guide, slide it up until you feel it hit the skin of your eyelid. Immediately do the same with the right lash. You can see why I don’t wait – if you let the glue get too tacky it will stick to your lashes and not slide up to the roots. Wait a couple of seconds and give the inner edge of the band a poke to make it lie flat (it always wants to pop up).

Some of you are probably wondering if my method makes it more likely that you will pull out your own eyelashes when you remove the false lash. I have not found this to be the case. I grab the lash at the outer corner and peel it off inward. Then if I’m not throwing away the lashes, I pick the excess glue off, give them a spritz from a spray bottle of alcohol, and put them back in the pack for next time. If you get false lashes wet they lose their shape and become unwearable, so go lightly with the alcohol. Eventually your false lashes will get raggedy looking and makeup-y, and you’ll pitch them and open a fresh pair.

A word or two on false lashes and mascara – some people like to apply their lashes and then apply mascara to “marry” the falsies to their real lashes. I have no idea how one gets mascara off false lashes without ruining them, so if you want to re-use your lashes I recommend skipping this. I DO apply mascara before putting on my false lashes, though – usually a tubing mascara that I know won’t sweat off. I don’t care if it makes my lashes look thicker or longer (’cause I’m putting on falsies for that) but – by the time I get to this point my own lashes usually have foundation, powder, and/or eyeshadow on them, and no longer look black. If I want them to blend in with my fake lashes I want to turn them black again – hence a swipe of mascara.

I love false lashes – with a little practice you can pop them on in no time, and they make such a huge difference to a performance look. Like all makeup, they are temporary, so go forth and have fun!