This Easy, Runway-Approved Mascara Trick Is the Secret to Getting Cool-Girl Lashes

For years, over-the-top, exaggerated, more-is-more lashes have been a staple in beauty. During the Fall 2019 shows, lashes were quite literally taking over the runways — the longer, fuller and more dramatic, the better. And since then, we've seen a massive rise in lash-growth serums, extensions, tubing mascaras and falsies on social media, backstage and IRL. But that trend might be on its way out.

For Spring 2024, makeup artist Diane Kendal — arbiter of the "cool girl" minimalism associated with brands like Proenza Schouler and Altuzarra — is going all-in on understated lashes. For both of the aforementioned shows this season, the creative turned to one specific mascara technique to create the ultimate undone, no-makeup makeup eye look — and it's blessedly simple, as it basically just involves doing a half-assed job with mascara.

For the Proenza runway, Kendal (working with Merit Beauty) rattled off the usual pillars of the brand's aesthetic as her starting point for the makeup: "Proenza girl, '90s, minimalism," she told Fashionista in a backstage interview — The Proenza Special, basically. "We're doing a kind of no-makeup makeup look, enhancing all of the girls' natural features, giving dimension to the face, but it's very subtle."

Proenza Schouler Spring 2024

Photos: Courtesy of Proenza Schouler

One key aspect of nailing that elevated-but-nonchalant effect? "We're using the mascara and just doing it at the root of the eye[lashes], we're not doing it all the way through," explained Kendal. To make sure the pigment gets close to the lash line, she wiggles the spoolie brush at the very roots, in effect bulking up the hairs with a subtle bit of volume and depositing the mascara with a concentrated, precise placement. But she's careful not to then comb the spoolie through the lengths of the lashes — this would result in that overly "done" look she and her fellow cool girls are trying so consciously to avoid.

Altuzarra Spring 2024. <p>Photo: Courtesy of Altuzarra</p>
Altuzarra Spring 2024.

Photo: Courtesy of Altuzarra

For the Altuzarra runway, the artist (working with Aesop and Laura Mercier) again employed the same trick, and I asked her to elaborate on its effect: "Instead of doing a liner, if you just put it at the root, that gives you the definition, so it gives the eye more dimension and makes them a bit stronger. I don't want to look as though they're wearing mascara." At both shows, Kendal also curled models' lashes before going in with the mascara — so, much like many no-makeup makeup looks, it's not exactly that effortless.

In addition to serving as a stand-in for eyeliner, Kendal also notes that this half-baked mascara technique has a softness that's similar to the effect of using a brown mascara (an emerging trend we've seen makeup brands jumping on board with of late).

While Kendal relied on Merit Beauty Clean Lash Mascara and Laura Mercier Caviar Volume Panoramic Mascara for each show, this application method works easily with pretty much any mascara. But this is a rare instance in which the applicator is actually more important than the formula; to make this trick as foolproof as possible, look for a mascara with a skinny or tapered brush that allows you to get in close to the lash line to easily impart an ultra-concentrated hit of product.

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