Ask anyone who’s into make-up and they’ll tell you mascara is an essential, but did you know it started out as a tool to repel malicious spirits and people with bad intentions? In Ancient Rome, curved, lengthy, dense eyelashes were coveted and believed to keep bad spirits away from your eyes, which were thought to be the windows to your soul. Women often mixed kohl and burnt cork to make their lashes appear darker. It wasn’t until the 19th century that French chemist and perfumer Eugène Rimmel developed the first commercial non-toxic mascara, which was mainly formulated with coal dust and petroleum jelly. Today, mascara is a beauty staple and the most profitable eye make-up, followed by eyeliner, eye shadow and eyebrow make-up. There are so many options, from formulation to colour intensity, to brush functionality, to curling and defining power, so if you’re still doubtful about which one is best for you, here are some tips. Match your brush to your lash Did you know there’s a particular type of brush for every type of lash? For example, if your lashes are curly and thick you’re better off with an oversized, more viscous wand that’s able to hold your lashes and cover every strand. Long, thin brushes with delicate bristles are ideal for short, curly or very fine lashes, as they make it easier for mascara to be applied down to the roots, and pull lashes up for extra length and definition. Hourglass-shaped brushes are best for scattered lashes, as the combination of thick, thin, short and long bristles will help volumise, while building density at the root, which will provide definition and length. If you want a brush that delivers lots of product in little time, a plastic bristle brush is the one for you, but if you’re looking for attention to detail and easy access to difficult zones, a pointed tip brush may be a better option. Curl your lashes before, not after There’s always been a big debate about when to curl your lashes, but most experts agree it should be before you put mascara on. “Mascara helps add length and volumise your lashes by covering them in a formula that will dry in shape, meaning they become rigid and lose some flexibility, so when you curl them after going through that process there’s more risk of breakage,” explains celebrity make-up artist Carolina Pizarro, pointing out that in the long run, breakage can turn into long-term deterioration. “Your lashes are way more fragile and prone to split when covered in dry mascara, so your curler, as innocent as it looks, can act like a guillotine,” she says. Remove mascara the right way Taking the time to properly remove your mascara can benefit your lashes’ overall health and prevent long-term damage. When you don’t use the proper products – like make-up removers or oil cleansers – or don’t pay attention to the technique you’re using, it’s easy to pull out some lashes or damage their roots, which can lead to slower regrowth and even chronic eyelash loss. There are many tips for removing your mascara, but whatever you’re using, the formula needs to be broken down or dissolved while it’s still on your lashes, so it takes little or no pressure to wipe it away. Five skincare trends for 2022, from new retinol to prickly pear seed oil Waterproof or regular mascara? Regular washable mascaras have more water than waterproof formulas, so they offer more flexibility to your lashes and are easier to remove, which is healthier for your eyes. Waterproof formulas can be more drying and gluey, which can be harsh on your lashes if used on a regular basis. Washable mascaras are more prone to smudging, as they take longer to dry, so need more care. Waterproof mascaras have little or no water, and stay put when exposed to rain, sweat, tears and water. The root goes first Applying the product the right way can make a huge difference. Instead of zigzagging or brushing multiple times, place the brush at the root of your lashes and wiggle the wand a little to let the bristles get in between each strand. Pull the brush straight up, covering your lashes to the tip. You will not only avoid clumps, but also separate your lashes and create an illusion of volume and fullness. Shelf life essentials If you want to keep eye infections at bay, throw away your mascara every three to four months. Eye products – mascara especially – are ideal for bacterial growth, and after a few months of use, you’re transferring bacteria to your eye on a daily basis. When you buy new mascara, do everything to avoid early bacteria growth, such as closing it tightly, avoiding pumping the brush in and out multiple times, and of course, never share it.