Bat for lashes

In Grooming, Make up on February 24, 2013 at 6:53 pm


There are all the obvious things we worry about when we start getting older… middle-aged spread, going deaf, stiffness in the joints, the increasing amount of time it takes the brain mice to retrieve names from the cranial filing cabinets.

But now I find I’m tripped up by things I hadn’t even thought of worrying about and, as previously mentioned, the most recent pressing one has been how to make up the ageing eye.

I’ve always found eye make very easy to do – a quick sweep of a nice neutral bruise-coloured shadow in the socket, perhaps some highlighter on the brow bone, a little greige eye pencil, eyelash curlers, a few lashings of mascara and it was all done.

But as my face has started to slide down, I’ve found that my carefully chosen Chantecaille eye shadow disappears into the folds of skin, which internet research reveal is called ‘the hooded eye’.

Who knew?

In desperation I reached out to my friend, legendary make up artist Val Garland, who is about the same vintage as me.

‘Got any tips for making up the older eye?’ I asked her on Twitter.

‘Really good sunglasses,’ replied Val.

After I stopped laughing, that was a sobering moment. If Val doesn’t have the answer, maybe there isn’t one. But never one to give up easily, I did my researches and found that Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner along the top lid helps a lot. It gives the eye definition, peeping out from beneath the folds of ancient eyelid. I don’t leave the house without it, now.

My little trick, is to apply the eyeliner, let it dry for a few moments – and then put my normal mushroom coloured powder shadow over the top. It softens the line beautifully, so the definition is still there, but you don’t look like a tragic superannuated Amy Winehouse wannabe. But for parties and the like, I want to start gearing up my old lady make up a few notches, wearing the older girl’s secret weapon of false eye lashes, as discussed previously.

But I’ve never got the hang of how you do it. All my attempts have lead to the appearance of tarantulas making a bid for freedom from my eyelids, waving happily at onlookers.

So I rang my friend Maria McErlane and asked if she would give me a masterclass. (That’s her on the left, holding Goliath, her faithful hound. Note tiara…)


Maria, who never looks less than glamourtastic, always slip on a false lash for a party. An actress and comedienne, radio presenter and agony aunt on her friend Graham Norton’s show on BBC radio 2 every Saturday morning (it’s a must listen, as the two of them banter on letters sent in, with the ease of old friends who love each others jokes) – she really knows her slap.

Here are her expert tips:

First assemble your kit. Maria likes the Girls Aloud lashes range – as modelled by Miss Cheryl Cole at the top.

But the glue that comes with any brand of false lashes is crap. Buy the Mac one – and a false eyelash application tool.

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I didn’t know these things even existed. They are like little curved plastic bulldog clip. The other thing you need is a wooden orange stick.

Trim the lashes to fit the length of your eyelids before you start, cutting the inner corner, so you don’t spoil the gradation of length as the lashes go out to the edge of the eye.

Get a magnifying mirror on a stand, so you can get in really close to see what you’re doing.

With all the gear in position and my daughter as model, Maria then put a dob of the glue on her hand in the indentation next to the thumb – where you would take snuff – and picked up one eyelash in the applicator. She then attached a thin layer of glue to it, using the orange stick.

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The most important thing, she says, it to then let the glue set for a few seconds, to get nice and tacky.

Using the applicator then press it on as close the lashes as possible, then once in place, press it on firmly, starting at the inner corner. At this stage, you can still pull them down closer to the eyelash line. If you get it wrong, peel it off and re-position – the glue will stay sticky for a while.

Maria puts on all her eye maker up, including liner, before adding the lashes. Then after letting them set for a couple of minutes she adds a little more eyeliner to bed them in.

It was all very impressive. Peggy had eyelashes so long and crazy they nearly created a draught when she blinked. She had platform eyelashes.

‘How did you learn to do that?’ I asked Maria.

‘From Graham,’ she replied. ‘When he was in the stage show of La Cage Aux Folles he had to put massive false eye lashes on in the middle of a song… He taught me how to do it.’


Now that’s the kind of man pal every girl needs.

Here’s a clip. He comes on after about 3 minutes.

  1. Love your work Maggie, just been working through same 🙂

  2. Oh god my breakfast almost landed on the screen when I read the comment about the sunglasses!! Hilarious. Thanks for the tips and for making me laugh early monday morning here in Oz.

  3. Thanks so much for this post Maggie. Just what I need at this point in time! I have been struggling to apply lashes, using an eyelash curler to grab them and hold them in place. But even this proves difficult, so much so that I have given up. But if the bulldog clip works I am willing to give it a try!

  4. The rage with a lot of mums I know is to have semi-permanent ones. They have them attached then have refills done about monthly I think. No more mascara. They swear by them. Personally too much maintenance for me – just another job to add to the list. One more thing you forgot to add to your obvious list of concerns about ageing- going blind….how infuriating to need to grab spectacles to even use my phone now!

    • Yes I became a lash extension addict for quite some time. Many compliments from total strangers and friends alike. Refills required every 2 to 3 weeks – so an expensive and time consuming addiction! But when I discovered that eventually your own lashes almost disappear, I had to stop. They’re never quite the same again. Sniff!

      • Is that the ‘Hollywood Lashes’ thing you get done in a salon? Eek! have been longing to try it, but if it’s going to wreck my naturals, no way. My fingernails still haven’t recovered from their Shellac trauma. What do they do to your own lashes???

    • oh yes, I’m at the ‘where are my glasses stage’ now. I did well to be able to read the phone book without them until very recently, now I have to wear the bloody things to read in bed and I HATE it. No more curling up with the book. I do however love my cool frames… I’ve been very keen to try the semi-perm lashes but Sally H, just above cautions that they wreck your real lashes. Could you ask your friends and report back? xxx

      • Oh I’ve been curling up in bed with my glasses and a book for awhile now…it’s the hunting for the (2 pairs of) glasses that drives me (& my husband) batty. My friends tell me the font on my phone is so big people on the other side of cafe/restaurant/room could read my texts – but I still need my glasses to read it.

        I will ask my friends about the effect on their eye lashes from the Hollywood Lashes – I do know one friend had a nasty reaction to the glue and had a swollen pussy eye that sent her running to the pharmacist apologising for being so vain. ( This was after many times with no problems – she blamed the particular salon) I have quite a few sensitivities so I must admit I am quite scared of the glue. I have given up on Shellac for awhile but I think the damage to my nails is caused by the peeling it off with my teeth – yes terrible I know!

      • A bad shellac experiene – after several great ones – has pretty much put me off that forever. It’s good for toes, but never on the fingers again. That was the result of changing salon too – there’s a message in there. x

      • Hello again, I have asked 3 of my semi permanent lash wearing friends about the ongoing impact on their own eye lashes and they all said no permanent impact. They all believe your own eye lashes just grow back as normal -if you pull them out removing the attached falsies (I think I could be this sort of person given I peel my shellac off when it has one small ridge from growing out or a little chip) I assume eye lashes regenerate themselves as does any other hair on our bodies??? They all still love them and swear by them.

        From an outsider observing them though I think they need to be carefully chosen as it’s rather disconcerting looking at them over a coffee and either feeling like I’m looking at Bambi (just not natural to have such long sweeping lashes on a grown woman in the middle of the day) or someone who hasn’t removed the crusted off mascara from a big night out or the other one who just doesn’t look like my friend. Thankfully I dont think any of them read your blog.

        I quite like the idea of reserving them for a glamourous big night out rather than an overdone day look.

      • That is hilarious. You made me laugh – and the way I’m feeling today (acute sinusitis coupled with feelingsorryformyselfitis) that was just what I needed. I have longed to try them for the campness of it. The ones at the best salon near me are called ‘Hollywood Lashes’ which really appeals to my six year old brain. xxx

    • I’ve heard that the semi permanent ones can leave one’s own lashes thinned out. The ageing eye is a problem, I just stopped wearing eye shadow as it just showed up the river bed above the eye. Now wear a little shading of greyish blue above the lashes and heaps of mascara puffed up with a wonderful heated curler – looks like a pen, with a little battery in it and the heat is enough to separate and lift the mascara’d lashes. Available in Priceline (Australia) and brilliant. I think though I will try the stick on ones, it seems to give the eye a bit more “look”!.

      • I think they really add that ‘pop’ for special occasions. I’ve been really turned off the semi-perms by what I’ve read on here, but think one of those heated curlers might be coming into my life… x

  5. A lash applicator – fancy that, a tool I didn’t have and didn’t even know I needed until now, thank you Maggie. For those parties were one only needs to look moderately glamtastic the individual MAC lashes are also good. Just a few in the outer corners. Can even get away with these for day-time glam 😉

  6. Maggie, thanks for this, including the extra hints about better glue and the holder thingy. Wouldn’t have known and probably stuffed up first go, never to try again … will give it a red hot go now!
    Some say it’s better to use separate strands, you buy a pack of them and apply them one after the other. Sounds time-consuming, however someone I know uses them then leaves them on for weeks. (dodgy ….)

    • I know I couldn’t be bothered to do that – but I do want to try having ‘Hollywood Lashes’ which you get done at a salon and they stay on for weeks. Will report on it, when I do it x

  7. Here’s to hooded eyes. I reckon I could stash half a Tim Tam in each of my hoods and no one would be any the wiser.

    Fantastic idiot proof advice. Thanks very much, Maggie. I was squinting in the mirror (again) this morning wondering how I REALLY looked, whilst waving the eye makeup in (hopefully) the right direction.

    I like the sound of the eyeliner gel: we must share roughly the same colour pallete for the eyes, so will get shopping.

    False lashes were the bane of my life when my daughter was doing ballet concerts. I did get OK at them, but the tool you showed would have saved a lot of swearing.

    It’s been interesting, the past two weeks: I have not been able to wear much eye makeup, after a little op (and losing a few lashes in the process). I was dreading going out in public, as I never ever ever leave the house wearing less than at least a bit of eyeliner and mascara. Well, it was all a bit ho hum. No one reeled away in horror, so maybe the real me is not that scary after all (or maybe my colleagues are even more polite than I realised).

    Now I am going to sneak off and watch a bit of the Oscars. Do you think there’ll be an actress there without falsies? (Lashes, that is)

  8. And…just watched the gorgeous Adele accept Best Song award. Now, she can REALLY work false lashes. Divine red lip as well.

  9. Tweezerman makes the BEST magnifying mirror ever. And the best place to buy your reading glasses (the ones you use at home and have everywhere) is from ebay – you can buy 10 pairs for $20-30. Just put in strength eg “+1.5 glasses” and loads will come up in your search. The only cure to glasses is basically getting your cataracts done (generally 60+ years of age) and you will either need no glasses post this or weak ones.

    • Sadly I can’t use those pharmacy specs as I have astigmatism and my lens have to be ground at great expense. I bought some for a trip to Venice to read the map and nearly fell on the floor, the whole world went so weird. Really evny people who can use them x

  10. Maggie hear you on the hooded lids but I have been using Perricone’s Acyl-Glutathione Eye Lid Serum and I really think it works. That and his neck lift plasma cream. I am not at all into big ticket skincare and just use cetaphil, my own homemade Vit C serum and a cheap moisturiser. But I do think thery really do ‘something’.
    There’s a great site called Essential day spa forum where people recommend products and tricks. I have learnt so much!
    Love BB gel liners and Mac powepoints also are the business.
    I have had lash extensions but they are a pain. Cant wash and dry face properly and as i wear an eye mask to sleep (In Queensland so sun up very early) they went all skew whiff. Didn’t lose any of my own lashes but have heard horror stories. I use the generic version of Latisse which stimulates eye lash growth and am very pleased with my longer but sadly not thicker lashes.

  11. I now really want to try false lashes, as am at disappearing eye stage of life! Would be wary of anything salon-wise that diminishes your real lashes. Working as a part-time manicurist I have seen awful damage to natural nails from long term “false” nails. Always try to say to clients that I can make short short natural nails look so much better. My advice is do not do treatments long-term that mess with your natural attributes.

    • Verrrrrrrrry good advice from One Who Knows xxx I love short natural nails, but nearly wrecked mine with bad Shellac removal five months ago – still growing out…

  12. You are always bang on the money with the very issues I’m “struggling” with ~ currently, how to apply eyeliner in a straight line to very crinkly lids. Like many of your followers, I think we were separated at birth! Love reading everyone’s product reviews, tips and tricks.

    • Aw, that’s so lovely. I’m at home sick with heinous sinusitis, feeling rather sorry for myself and useless, so it couldn’t have come on a better day. I have same problem with eyeliner and find the gel so much better. Then putting the eye shadow over the top, it all gets muted anyway. Really works for me, let me know if it does for you xxxx

  13. So agree with you regarding more mature eye maquillage and my eye lashes seem to be disappearing as well. Maybe they are reincarnating and appearing on my chin now? You have inspired me to try out lashes and will enlist help of daughter when she is back from University at Easter – she is a pro as did a makeup course for 3 months in Melbourne before Uni when she was out staying with us. When I can get her to do my makeup it always looks a thousand times better. X

  14. Got the Bobbi Brown eye gel and living it. Thanks for the heads up!

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