Even on my most low-key, no-makeup makeup days, I rarely leave the house without swiping on mascara. Whether it’s the only thing making me look alive—it can work wonders!—or the finishing touch to a fully glam look, I always want my eyelashes to bring their A-game.
Sadly, my lashes aren’t naturally long and luscious, so it takes a bit of effort to get them looking the way I want. To make the most of my mascara, I have one little secret: lash primer. In particular, LASHFOOD Conditioning Collagen Lash Primer ($20; sephora.com). This stuff is so effective that I now refuse to leave the house without it.
This paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free formula contains microfibers that amp up the appearance of eyelashes by thickening them and boosting their length. The formula contains collagen to emphasize volume, plus a Nano-Peptide Complex to help strengthen lashes over time. And it's easy to use: The product is packaged in a tube with a wand exactly like your average mascara, but the pigment is white instead of black, so I can see exactly how much I’m applying and building up over my natural lashes. For length, I do a few simple swipes, and the fibers extend like magic; for a false-lash effect, I take my time wiggling the brush back and forth at the base of my lashes before combing through. When I apply my mascara—usually Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($26; sephora.com)—over the white base coat, it results in lashes I hardly recognize as my own.
My lashes are thin, light, straight, and sparse. During college, I struggled with trichotillomania, and ended up pulling out a few too many lashes. I've gotten so good at applying falsies that I ended up wearing them on an almost daily basis, and it wasn’t until I started using a primer-and-mascara combo that I felt comfortable enough to stop. Since using brow and lash serums to grow out my hairs, they’ve improved dramatically, but priming is a two-seconds step that helps me achieve both a longer look and healthier lashes over time.
If you’re willing to add an extra step to your makeup routine, this one guarantees the most bang for your buck. After all, you might already be applying a primer for your face and eyelids, so why not call in backup for your lashes, too?