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Skin Deep: How to get the lashes of your dreams, from extensions to good old mascara

Open up those eyes.


Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

So I know we need our legs and arms and stuff, but if you asked me what my most important body part was, it’s possible that I would say my eyelashes. They’re certainly the part I spend most time on, when it comes to beautifying and maintenance. I’m naturally fair, so without intervention, my lashes are virtually invisible. As a result, I became heavily dependent on mascara and its at a young age, and have never looked back.

For most of my life (aside from a brief bald patch after a tragic incident with an eyelash curler when I was nineteen), a good mascara was all I needed, as my lashes were long and healthy. These days, however, they’re sparse and thin, and honestly, it gets me down sometimes. They just haven’t recovered from chemo the way the rest of me has, and are sometimes a frustrating reminder of my experience with cancer. As we all know, though, every cloud has a silver lining, and for me that silver lining is extensive knowledge of and experience with making crappy lashes look like dream lashes. Today, I will share that wisdom with you.

If you don’t have much in the lash department, you may find yourself turning to falsies. There is lots of choice in the false lash realm in 2017, but which falsies are the right ones for you?

The most impressive, in my opinion, are semi-permanent lash extensions. This is where a specially trained technician carefully glues individual false lashes to your own, one hundred or more per eye depending on what look you go for. The process usually takes about an hour and a half  and will set you back €100-€120.

The end result should look like eyelashes you could have grown yourself, if you naturally had the world’s best lashes. The drawback is that maintenance can be tricky – you’re not meant to wear mascara or use any oil-based products. When they begin to fall out they can be slightly irritating, and if you are the kind of person who has to pick at things, you may start to pull at them as they loosen which can result in losing some of your own lashes. Those things are not problems for everyone though, and honestly, the result is probably worth a little bit of effort.

However, no one can resist the greatest drawback of lash extensions. They are EXTREMELY addictive. I haven’t had them for a few years, and still I find myself considering getting them every few weeks. The only reason I don’t is that I can’t really justify the time or money with a new baby on the scene, and also I am a puller, and don’t want to do further damage to what pathetic lashes I have left.

Honestly though, they are the lash dream. If you’re considering getting them, be sure to ask around to find out where is the best place near you to get them. A good lash technician will have a strong reputation, and you want to be sure that someone who’s going to be gluing things near your eyeballs is good at it. In Dublin/ Wicklow I can recommend Blink and WinkChristoph Eye Couture and Up To My Eyes (who were among the very first in Ireland to provide this service).


If that’s too much of a palaver for you, there’s no shame in the good old fashioned kind you glue on yourself. I avoided them for years because I found the strips hard to apply, uncomfortable and hard to maintain (let’s be honest, you never want to be that girl with her eyelashes hanging off). Then I discovered that individual clusters. I always assumed they’d be difficult to put on, but I got the hang of them incredibly quickly after watching this Lisa Eldridge YouTube tutorial. The key is having a decent pair of tweezers and some quality glue (Duo is the industry fave). Once you have those guys, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on the lashes themselves. Ardell are my favourite because they look quite natural, but Penneys have great options which are very easy to apply.

If you prefer the more dramatic look of strip lashes, you go girl (or guy, or however you identify)! Again, the key here is using the GOOD GLUE. There’s no need to spend top dollar on the lashes themselves. Get yourself some Duo and you won’t look back. Dip the strip in the glue and don’t be tempted to try to apply them until the glue is good and sticky. You’ll still be able to move them a bit if you need to, but they won’t be sliding around leaving excess glue everywhere and ruining your already applied eye makeup. Make sure you pop your Duo in your bag when you go, in case your lashes make a run for it, and throw your liquid eyeliner in there while you’re at it. That way if you get sick of the lashes as the night goes on you can pull them off and cover up the debris with a nice black flick. No one will ever know!

And now, to my one true love, mascara. There are a ludicrous number of options when it comes to mascara. The market is absolutely flooded, and I can never understand what the point of half of them is. Surely, for most of us, the goal with mascara is to have long, thick, black eyelashes? (I will never accept the line of BS fed to us over the years by makeup artists that blondes should wear brown mascara because it looks ‘less harsh’. Give me harsh. Give me the harshest lashes a woman could own.)

With that goal in mind, I have tested countless mascaras over the years, and my current favourites are Maybelline Lash SensationalL’Oréal Paris Miss Baby Roll Mascara (apologies for bringing something with such a ridiculous name into your life) and Benefit They’re Real. If I had all the money in the world I would only ever use YSL Faux Cils, but it dries out quickly and is very pricey so I can’t justify it.


Curl your lashes before applying (Lidl do a great eyelash curler for €1.49) and then lash on as many coats as you deem necessary. I go with no less than five, applying them quickly, one after the other, so that it doesn’t set. Once your mascara is dry it’s a bad idea to add more. It will simply look messy and clumpy. A lot of mascaras these days are very hard to remove, so it’s worth investing in a decent eye makeup remover. You don’t want to use anything near your eyes which requires a lot of harsh rubbing and pulling as the skin is delicate and wrinkles easily, so find one which works for you and stick with it. My personal favourite is Vichy Puete Thermale Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover. It never fails me.

To sum up, the lashes of your dreams are absolutely a possibility these days, whether you want to go the full semi-permanent hog or simply stick them on yourself in your bedroom. I believe in you. Go forth and go on the lash.

New Products


Penneys have really upped their game in the beauty stakes over the last year, and have now expanded their range of sun protection. Their Sun Protect Clear Spray with Coconut Water is particularly nice, and only a fiver.

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