By Jude Chao of FiftyShadesofSnail.com

And now for something completely different. My decades of Asian Eyelash Struggles are over thanks to the best lash-growth serum I’ve ever used. I’ve also found the best mascara for my lashes and have picked up a couple of tricks with an eyelash curler and an eyelash brush. Let’s talk about my HG eyelash serum and mascara (and a couple of tools and tricks to make the most out of short, straight, stubborn lashes)!

Affiliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*). A product mentioned in this post was provided to me by a sponsor and is disclosed in the text.

I was messing around with my camera recently and took a selfie with it for the first time. (I stood in front of the mirror and used the reflection of the viewfinder to make sure I was pointing the camera in the right direction; #shittyphotographytips.) It’s not my favorite selfie, but one thing about the picture made me really happy: my lashes! They’re actually visible, unlike in selfies taken with the shitty selfie camera on my (currently MIA) tablet. No, they’re not impressive compared to extensions or falsies, but for just my shitty natural lashes + some product, I think they look good! More to the point, you can see them, so now I have pictures to back up my assertions.

Given their sad “before” state, my lashes today are better than they’ve ever been. Curled and mascara’ed, they’re pretty much the lashes I’ve dreamed of since I was 13 years old. None of my other childhood dreams have come true (which is fine, since none of the New Kids on the Block are my type as an adult woman, either the way they were back then or the way they are now, and several equestrian adventures have taught me that horses do not like or respect me), so discovering my path to pretty lashes is a biggish deal!

My HG Lash-Growth Serum: Why DHC Eyelash Tonic Is the Best

How do you think your hair would look if you regularly crimped and pinched it with rubber and metal, applying enough force to put a curl in it even without heat; coated it in thick layers of waxy, siliconey, stiff, drying product, and pulled and tugged and yanked on it to get it clean — all without ever moisturizing or conditioning it? It wouldn’t look good, right?

Well, eyelashes are hair, too! But, apart from a stint with L’Oreal Lash Boosting Serum a couple of years ago, I didn’t treat them as such until about a year ago. That’s when I stumbled across some success stories of people who’d used castor oil as a lash-growth serum. Castor oil is what I started with, applied with clean, disposable spoolies. (A pack of 100 lasts me the better part of a year, since I wash and reuse each one at least a couple of times.)

It worked better than I expected, actually. After a couple of months of conditioning my lashes and moisturizing my lashlines nightly with straight castor oil*, I noticed several new rows of upper lashes growing in that I definitely hadn’t had before. My lashes broke and fell out much less frequently than they used to, too. But, while castor oil is the most natural and economical lash treatment I’ve tried, it wasn’t ideal for me. Castor oil smells funny. It’s also a bit messy if accidentally overapplied, and it stung and blurred my vision whenever any of it got into my eyes.

The next lash serum I tried was RiRe Luxe Eyelash Essence*, which an Instagram follower gifted to me after she found out that I was using straight castor oil around my eyes. I really liked the RiRe Eyelash Essence and almost bought another tube when the one I’d been given ran out. The clear, lightweight, and slightly sticky essence stayed put much better around my eyes than the castor oil did, it didn’t smell funny, and it didn’t bother my eyes whenever a slip of the hand ended in a poke to the eyeball. The little ball at the end of the applicator wand also came in handy for the harder-to-reach lashes at the outer corners of my eyes. Although it maintained my newly healthy lashes, however, I felt my lash growth was either plateauing or not as encouraged by the RiRe lash essence as it had been by castor oil.

When my tube of RiRe’s Eyelash Essence ran dry, therefore, I moved on. I bought Kiss Me Heroine Make Eyelash Serum* because the brand’s Long and Curl* and Volume and Curl* mascaras are some of my favorites. And I bought DHC Eyelash Tonic because DHC has a solid reputation.

The Kiss Me Heroine Make serum didn’t really work out for me. I found the thin formula unpleasantly oily-feeling, and my lashes stopped growing in as abundantly and started breaking off again after a couple weeks of use. The DHC, on the other hand? I won’t be moving on from it for quite a while, unless I luck into a tube of prescription-only Latisse. Even then, I’d probably continue using the DHC half the time.

As far as I’m concerned, they should call it Eyelash Magic.

Since DHC Eyelash Tonic is a treatment product, here’s what’s in it:

DHC Eyelash Tonic ingredients: Water, butylene glycol, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, phenoxyethanol, carbomer, aminomethyl propanol, placental protein, xanthan gum, allantoin, swertia japonica extract, salix alba (willow) bark extract, symphytum officinale leaf extract, nasturtium officinale flower/leaf extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, panax ginseng root extract (CosDNA)

Oh, look, it has ginseng in it. Awesome. A drop or two of ginseng never hurts.

I’ve been using DHC Eyelash Tonic for over three months now, happily. Like RiRe Luxe Eyelash Essence, the quick-drying DHC gel stays where I apply it, but unlike either the RiRe product or the Heroine Make lash serum, DHC Eyelash Tonic has restarted the dramatic extra eyelash growth that I’d experienced with straight castor oil. The growth at my upper lashlines is significantly denser than it used to be. My lashes grow longer and healthier than they used to as well, thanks to the conditioning they get from the product. Breakage and lash loss are down to almost nothing.

Even my lower lashline is showing gains. I never used to be able to put mascara on my lower lashes, because there just wasn’t anything there to work with. Though still skimpy, my lower lashes are now long enough — for the first time ever — to take some mascara.

DHC Eyelash Tonic can sting a little if it gets into my eyes, but that’s a very minor problem in my opinion. I just try extra hard not to get it too close to my eyeballs.

The only thing that bothers me about the DHC Eyelash Tonic is how the product’s appearance has changed over time. It came to me as a clear, pale golden gel. It’s since taken on a more opaque look. Given that this product goes right next to my eyes, you’d think I would freak out and toss it at the first sign of change, but I haven’t. I always apply the eyelash tonic right after my eye cream, and from the first time I noticed the gel turning milky, I assumed it was from the wand picking up eye cream residue and transferring it back into the tube. Nothing bad has happened to my eyes. I’ve also heard feedback from some other people that their tubes of DHC Eyelash Tonic do the same thing and that it isn’t an issue for them, either.

The awesomeness that is DHC Eyelash Tonic doesn’t stop at its abilities as a lash-growth serum, however. DHC recommends that people use the product not only at night but also under mascara during the day. I’ve been using it as mascara primer for a few weeks now (a Snapchat friend named Maddie convinced me by sending me some snaps of her amazing, gorgeous, long and luscious lashes) and I have no plans whatsoever to stop, because this lash serum adds an amazing amount of length and volume under mascara!

DHC Eyelash Tonic is $14 on the official US DHC site* and Amazon Prime*.

Unfortunately for me, however, no topical product can change my genetics. My lashes are longer and more abundant than they’ve ever been because DHC Eyelash Tonic keeps them and the skin along my lashlines healthy, but even at max potential, my lashes just aren’t that long or thick on their own.

To take my lashes from “way better than they used to be but still not really visible to anyone but me,” I need a truly great mascara.

Fairydrops Scandal Queen Platinum Mascara and My Other Favorite Asian Mascaras

If I tried to list out even a quarter of all the different mascaras I’ve tried in the 22 years since I started wearing makeup (oh, God, it really does look like a long time written out like that, doesn’t it?), I’d never finish writing this post. In my time, I’ve gone through dozens of varieties and probably hundreds of tubes of mascara, ranging from most of what CoverGirl, Revlon, Maybelline, and Max Factor have put on drugstore shelves in the last two decades to a decent number of well-known, higher-end varieties, among them Dior’s iconic Diorshow mascara and just about every Lancome mascara ever included in a Gift With Purchase set. Two decades, tons of mascara, and I still hadn’t found my One Mascara to Rule Them All.

That is because I suffer from Asian Eyelash Problems. Not just short and sparse, my lashes also point straight downwards instead of curling gracefully upwards. Adding insult to injury, they absolutely refuse to hold a curl if they aren’t set with just the right product. Even when curled with heated eyelash curlers (which I don’t like using because they scare me), my lashes will droop back to stick-straight in seconds unless I’m using one of the very, very rare mascaras that can hold a curl on me.

(I have the same problems with curling my hair, by the way.)

I’ve been a die-hard Japanese mascara fan for a few years now, ever since I first tried Heroine Make Long and Curl and realized something I should have known a long time ago: Asian mascaras are generally much more effective for Asian lashes than Western mascaras! That doesn’t mean that all Asian mascaras can hold the curl on my lashes, but more of them do than I’ve found either in the aisles at Target or behind the counters at Nordstrom.

I went through several tubes of the Heroine Make mascaras, which I was devoted to because they do for me exactly what they claim to do: Long and Curl lengthens my lashes and holds their curl; Volume and Curl thickens them and also holds their curl. Problem was, I had to layer both varieties to get the result I wanted. I also typically keep a tube of Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Edge Meister* around for when I want a very subtle and natural but still curled and wide-eyed lash look, as well as a tube of Touch In Sol Paper Pusher Stretch Fiber Lengthening Mascara,* originally provided to me for consideration by Sephora-carried K-beauty brand Touch in Sol*, for when I want lots and lots of length but can live with a bit less curl or specifically want less curl because I’m going for a more heavy-lidded “bedroom eyes” look. Oh, and a tube of Innisfree Skinny Microcara* because the tiny, tiny wand works perfectly for lower lashes. (Yes, I’ve somehow accumulated a mascara wardrobe.)

But I didn’t plan this post to be about my entire mascara wardrobe, as happy as I am that I’ve found so many mascaras that work for me. No, I meant for this post to be about my ultimate HG Japanese mascara, Fairydrops Scandal Queen Platinum Waterproof Mascara!

It’s a fiber mascara with a lot of lengthening fibers throughout the product. These fibers give the product its lengthening power; the stuff nearly doubles the length of my lashes in a couple of coats if applied onto bare lashes, and more than doubles their length if applied over my DHC Eyelash Tonic.

There’s so much length that I’m tempted to make a dick joke. But I won’t.

The oddly shaped Fairydrops Scandal Queen wand works better than many others I’ve tried, grabbing and coating every eyelash with product. The mascara itself is thick, smudge-resistant and waterproof; sets quickly; and, unlike 90% of other mascaras I’ve tried, will hold my lashes’ curl all day long, for 12 hours or more. I’ve gotten caught in the rain while wearing this mascara, have burst into tears while wearing this mascara (did you know that BRUCE WILLIS DIES AT THE END OF ARMAGEDDON?????), and have gotten sweaty from exertion in this mascara — all without getting panda-eyed or losing that prized curl that opens up my eyes and draws light into them so I can pretend like I get enough sleep and am alert and with-it during the day.

I’m not the only one who loves the Platinum (lavender metallic tube) version of this mascara, either. Check out the Beauty and the Cat review of this product!

Fairydrops Scandal Queen Platinum Waterproof Mascara is currently available on Amazon for $23.04*.

Fairydrops Scandal Queen isn’t quite perfect, though. It won’t curl my lashes on its own (no mascara does that for me, really, though many claim to and I’ve heard legends of mascaras that do curl other people’s lashes without the help of curling tools), so I do need to curl my lashes first. And when the tube is a little broken in or when I feel the desire to pile on more than two layers of product, it can get clumpy. Luckily, these problems are very easily fixed. Which leads us to the final section of this post…

Lash Tips for Lash Victims: Eyelash Curlers and Disposable Spoolies

My severe case of Asian Eyelash Problems means that, for me, mascara isn’t just a swipe-and-go affair, as you may have noticed from the fact that it took me 2,000+ words to get through just my lash conditioning and daily mascara product selections. Lashes like mine need tools!

Remember how I said that one of the weaknesses of Fairydrops Scandal Queen Platinum Waterproof Mascara is that it can get clumpy once the tube has been in use for a while or when I pile on several coats of product? I do not like clumpy lashes or the spiderlegs look. Some people swear by metal eyelash combs to separate and de-clump their lashes, but I haven’t yet found an eyelash comb that works well for me, in part because I have an unfortunate tendency to stab myself in the eyeballs with eyelash tools and metal eyelash combs don’t play well with eyeballs.

Luckily, I find that a clean, disposable mascara spoolie like one of these* will sweep away the clumps and separate lashes even better and much more safely than metal eyelash combs. I run a spoolie over my lashes after mascara application if I’m only doing the standard two coats. If I want to layer on more product for yet more length and volume, I go over my lashes with the spoolie in between each coat to keep lashes separated and to keep clumps from building up. I’ve done a whopping six layers of mascara before without a clump thanks to my little spoolies!

As for curling my lashes, I’ve had so many problems with eyelash curlers that I’d decided the problem was me. No matter what curler I tried, whether it was a $4.99 Revlon model or a fancier Tweezerman or beauty supply store variety, I could never get all my lashes to curl. Inevitably, the curler wouldn’t catch some of them, leaving me with some lashes curled but others straight.

Turns out the problem is in the subtle differences of length and curvature between eyelash curlers. Once again, Japanese eyelash curlers turned out to be much better suited for my eye shape than the Western ones I’d been using! My favorites are Shiseido’s eyelash curler* for my right eye and Shu Uemura* for my left. The differences between these particular eyelash curlers are minor, however, and I find that either of them can do both of my eyes just fine. In any case, my point in mentioning eyelash curler brands is more to say that if you have trouble with curling your eyelashes, consider trying different brands of eyelash curler. There’s a good possibility that the problem lies in the tools you’re using. That problem will be solved as soon as you find the right tool!

And, finally, I want to say a few words on mascara removal.

When I was younger and less knowledgeable about skincare, I used to use mascara every single day without ever investing in a proper eye makeup remover. I still cringe whenever I remember how I would take off my eye makeup: I’d get my face wet in the shower, cleanse my face, and then, with wet soapy hands, just sort of grab at my eyelashes and tug the mascara off. And that was when I bothered removing mascara at all.

What the fuck was I thinking?

No wonder I hardly had any lashes to speak of! No wonder they were constantly breaking and falling out!

These days, I usually take my makeup off with cleansing oil or cleansing balm, but sometimes with cleansing water instead. The specific product doesn’t really matter; it’s the technique that makes the difference. Super waterproof and hard-wearing mascaras, like the Japanese ones I like, are notoriously challenging to remove. (Heroine Make actually has a mascara remover* created specifically for their stubborn-ass mascaras!)

What will make removal much easier is giving your mascara remover some time to break the product down on your lashes before you go to wipe or rinse it away. When I use a regular cleansing oil or balm, I swipe some downwards over my lashes and then upwards from underneath them at the very beginning of cleansing, then wait until I’ve massaged it into the rest of my face before massaging the makeup off of my eyes.

With cleansing waters and other dedicated point makeup removers, I soak a cotton pad (I like these thin Muji cotton pads*, which don’t suck up and waste too much product and don’t leave lint all over my face) in the cleanser, then hold it gently over my lashes for about 30 seconds before wiping. Voila! Clean lashes with minimal tugging and irritation, ready for a fresh application of eyelash serum so they can keep growing and getting better and better!

And thus the cycle continues. For me at least, it’s totally worth it.

 

What are your eyelash and mascara tips and tricks?

Photo by Linh Ha on Unsplash

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