Used correctly, mascara can be the most powerful article of makeup in a person's war paint arsenal. Well defined lashes serve to enlarge and emphasise the eyes, which illuminates and brings forward the most important feature in one's face.

For best effect, choose the right shade:

  • Those with dark or moderately dark hair and eyes can go for the staple black or dark brown. Avoid blue at all costs, but dark green can be good if you have green or hazel eyes, or an olive skin tone.
  • Avoid black like the plague if you are exceptionally fair or a redhead. Use instead brown or, and this goes only for radiant natural blondes, blue. If you are very fair skinned you might want to consider clear mascara which will give definition but not add colour to your eyes.

A sad truth of makeup marketing is that they sell you more than you need - unless you use your mascara twice a day every day, it will probably dry up before you get to the end of the tube. Don't be cheap - throw it out and get a new one. It is also worth while investing in a good brand. I find that Lancome are the gods of mascara (even for my allergy prone peepers), however you are likley to be forking out up to £20 for them... Clinique is also excellent, and the Body Shop make an allergy-tested variety which is somewhat cheaper and very serviceable, but doesn't last very long.

Thick, clumpy lashes laden with pasty colour are no good to anyone. Apply your mascara with care. Always make sure you start at the very base of the lash, almost inside the eye, and draw the brush all the way to the tips. A fail-proof way of achieving this is to apply your mascara while looking down onto a hand held mirror. If you feel that you need an extra coat that's fine, but always stop at two.

A good trick to make lashes seem longer is to apply the second coat the the tips only, using light feathery strokes. I also sometimes use two different kinds of mascara: a thickening first coat and then a lengthening coat on top, achieving both effects. If you find that it clumps, and it probably will, wait until it's dry and then separate the lashes with a toothpick. To make sparse lashes seem thicker, apply some eye pencil to the inside of the lash, on the upper part only.

It is usually a good idea to avoid painting the lower lashes. It enlarges the eye, but creates a look which is unfashionable at the moment and will mark you out as someone who got their makeup tips from their mother. If you feel you must, use clear mascara on the lower lashes and trace the corner of the eye with a tiny bit of dark eye shadow.

I personally don't use eyelash curlers, because mine are curly enough, but I know women who positively swear by them. Just remember to use them before you apply the mascara!