Woman applying mascara
Image: Shutterstock/Brainsil

Mascara seems pretty straightforward: You grab a tube of the black, creamy concoction with the fun spoolie brush and slather it onto your lashes. But you have to match your foundation, concealer, highlighter, lip color and everything about the rest of your makeup to your skin or face type, and mascara is no different in many cases.

There are tons of different types of mascara out there and each works with different types of lashes. So you’ll have to pick the best mascara for problem lashes. But all lashes look the same, you may be crying. Not exactly. If you really get up close and personal with the mirror, you may notice you have one of four types of problem eyelashes.

  • Straight lashes: These lashes tend to point downward, rather than having that alluring upward curl.
  • Clumpy lashes: These lashes are what they sound like. They clump together naturally, without heavy globs of mascara.
  • Sparse lashes: These lashes are uneven, growing in fitful, random intervals.
  • Short lashes: Again, just what they sound like, these are lashes that seem to barely extend beyond the eyelid.

Then there’s also eyelash color to take into account. Most eyelashes will be very dark in color, but on some people they could be very light, along with light skin and light hair, so a heavy black mascara will look out of place. Luckily there’s a mascara out there for every eyelash problem. Here’s how to pick the best mascara for problem lashes.

For straight lashes: For these stubborn lashes, you’ll want to get an eyelash curler and move outward, holding a few seconds at each part of the lash. Then, use a mascara that is known for curling and volumizing, like Maybelline New York The Falsies Push Up Angel Washable Mascara.

For clumpy lashes: With these lashes, you’ll want to lightly curl and then brush them with a clean spoolie brush to get the lashes separated. Then apply any mascara, and brush the lashes again so that they stay separated. Unless you’re going for a clumpy mascara trend, in which case you were born for that trend.

For sparse lashes: If you have sparse lashes, you’ll want to start with an eyelash primer product, which can thicken and nourish the lashes. Then apply a volumizing mascara, like Covergirl Lashblast Volume Mascara, making sure to apply enough so that it fills in any gaps.

For short lashes: For this type of lash, find a mascara that is made to lengthen lashes, like Maybelline New York Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length Washable Mascara. Applying two coats (the second coat while the first is still wet) can add further volume and faux length.

For lightly colored lashes: For light lashes, you may want to opt for a brown mascara if you’re going for a natural makeup look. That will give some dimension and volume to your lashes, without it looking too heavy. If you’re going for a more chiseled makeup look (with contouring and heavier colors), you could opt for a black mascara. If you want to be in the middle, meaning not too heavy of a look and not too light/natural, you could also look for a dark brown mascara, like Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in Dark Brown.