Different Mascara Wands Have Different Effects On Your Lashes - Here's What They Do

When it comes to buying new makeup, you're likely to pick a product you know well. Maybe you've been using the same lipstick shade for years because you know it flatters your skin tone, or if your favorite brand has come out with a new line of products, you might use them to achieve the hottest 2023 makeup trends. But what if we told you that you might've been using the wrong mascara this whole time?

Professional makeup artist Ricky Wilson told Elle that selecting the correct formula is crucial to keeping your lashes healthy: "I look for something that is extremely conditioning." But in terms of the overall look itself, a beauty product developer for Albéa named Cindy Lin told Into the Gloss, "It's really the perfect storm of three things working in synergy: The brush, the wiper, and the formula." Selecting a high-quality brand can provide the three components needed, but the wand applicator does all of the heavy lifting, so to speak.

The first mascara with a wand applicator was sold in 1923, so with a hundred years of makeup innovations, experts have since figured out which wand works best for each individual look. Different mascara wands can have dramatically distinct effects on your eyelashes, so if your lash goals aren't being met by your current mascara, odds are that you're using the wrong wand type. Read on to learn about the different mascara wands and what they can do for your lashes.

A curved mascara wand adds curl to your lashes

This is probably a familiar shape for most of you, as a curved mascara wand has been a favorite shape among makeup users for years because it gives you tons of curling power (without the need for an eyelash curler). The curved shape of the wand is designed to follow the natural curvature of your lashes, reaching each individual eyelash and coating it from root to tip. Elisa Flowers, a professional makeup artist, told Refinery29 that when you apply your mascara using a curved wand, "the brush lifts lashes in [an upward] direction to achieve a soft curl with volume and definition."

The other, lesser-used side of this wand has a surprisingly useful function as well, as it's excellent for application in hard-to-reach areas. By using the outer part of the wand that curls away from your eye, you can coat your lower lashes with less mess. The curved mascara wand is a great option for those with stubbornly straight lashes, or if your eyelash curler isn't lifting your lashes enough on its own. If you're looking for a more dramatic look, like with any mascara, you can use a curler beforehand, add two coats, and brush your lashes afterward to create a fuller effect. Whatever you do, just be sure you're holding the wand the correct way around.

An hourglass mascara wand volumizes your lashes

An hourglass mascara wand might be your best bet if you prefer dramatic eyes over an understated, natural look. The aptly named hourglass wand has an array of varying bristle lengths, shorter in the middle and longer on the outer ends, which fully coat each lash while brushing out any potential clumps. Because the bristles on this wand are longer at the ends, your inner and outer lashes are given extra attention, which volumizes each of your lashes evenly.

Kelli Bartlett, makeup artist and educator with Ever/Body, spoke with Byrdie about the benefits of an hourglass mascara wand, saying, "An hourglass-shaped brush with dense bristles is incredible for building volume and length for sparse lashes. The fine teeth act like a Mason Pearson brush, building up volume at the root, while the hourglass shape distributes product from root to tip." Bartlett says this mascara wand will leave your eyes looking wider and the end result is fairly dramatic.

It's a great choice for those with thinner eyelashes, short inner or outer lashes, or for those who have flyaways that need more volume, length, and discipline. While it's not the most popular option, the hourglass mascara wand delivers a showstopping, consistent makeup look you'll be dying to try before your next night out.

A comb mascara wand reduces clumpiness in your lashes

There's nothing more annoying than carefully applying your mascara, then realizing all of your eyelashes have clumped together. You can fix this with an eyelash brush or separator by brushing through your lashes before you apply your makeup, adding a quick coat of mascara, then combing through them again. But this just adds more work, which isn't ideal if you only have a couple of minutes to do your makeup in the morning. Instead, why not apply your mascara and declump your lashes simultaneously? A comb mascara wand does just that, bringing precision and eliminating stuck-together lashes.

The shape of a comb mascara wand is just like a smaller version of the comb you use in your hair, with small teeth on one side. This wand is a great choice if you have lashes that are prone to tangling or overlapping, short lashes, or stubborn clumping issues. The comb brushes through your eyelashes, defining them while providing an even application, and delivers a more natural-looking end result.

Kelli Sewell, a makeup artist, told InStyle if your mascara formula is too dry, using an eyelash brush or separator can make it difficult to brush through the product and pull on your eyes. So even if a comb mascara wand isn't for you, using a mascara that has a wetter formula can help with this clumping issue as well.

A spike ball mascara wand gives precision to your lashes

It looks a little strange, but a spike ball mascara wand has become a super popular wand, used to apply your makeup to sparse lashes and to build up product slowly for the best precision. The bristles on this wand are just at the end and look a little like a miniature steel wool sponge, giving you less surface area to work with but much more command over your makeup tool.

Paige Johnson, Babe Lash's marketing director, told Martha Stewart that a spike ball wand can "evenly cover all of those hard-to-reach lashes, give you more control over your application, and leave lashes lifted and voluminous." When you apply your mascara using this wand, it might take a little bit of extra time, but the results speak for themselves.

Another makeup artist, Kenneth Soh, told Byrdie that a spike ball wand lets you control where you want to incorporate length in your lashes. He said, "You could focus on the middle lashes to create a rounder open eye effect, or on the outer ends to elongate the eye shape by giving more length there." This is a great choice if your eyelashes are particularly thick, are prone to clumping, or if you're looking for a mascara wand that provides more precision than bigger, chunkier wands.

A fluffy, oversized mascara wand thickens your lashes

Big and fluffy mascara wands are sold everywhere, and they often make for a great drugstore product you can use to recreate iconic makeup looks. Mascara wands that are big and have lots of bristles can hold more product and disperse your mascara throughout your lashes more readily. The fluffy texture of this wand can also disperse the product throughout your lashes from root to tip, creating bigger and more dramatic looks.

As makeup artist Kelli Bartlett told Byrdie, "A big, thick brush is excellent for curled, dense-looking lashes. It'll give you a large-eye look with a ton of flutter. The large wand is ideal for bigger eye shapes and the brush helps stretch the lash to curl." So, for those looking to keep their makeup aesthetic low-key, this might not be the mascara wand for you. However, if you have thinner, shorter lashes, or just love to "wow" with a bold eye, break out this mascara wand to bring attention to your eyes and showcase a thicker lash look.

The main downside to this wand is that you may find your lashes clumping. For some, this is the desired look as it can give the illusion of thicker lashes. For others, running your eyelashes through a lash separator or brush after using your oversized mascara wand is an easy fix to keep the precision and minimize clumps.

A cone-shaped mascara wand elongates your lashes

There are plenty of mascaras that can help you achieve longer lashes, but experts agree that a cone-shaped mascara wand's design can really make a difference. This wand shape brings some serious length to your lashes, and the taper at the edge of the wand helps get pesky, hard-to-reach lashes without smudging your entire look. Molly Greenwald, a professional makeup artist, told Sunday Riley, "They come to a point, which is there for accuracy and it's great for getting every little lash: The ones in the inner corner, or the ones underneath."

Into the Gloss spoke with Gucci Westman, a renowned makeup artist, about how she uses a cone-shaped wand. She broke down each section of this mascara wand, saying, "You get closer to your lash line with the skinnier part of the wand ... it's so much easier to control, as opposed to doing it with the middle of the wand. The fat middle part of the wand is going to give you more volume. And when you apply a second coat, it will keep adding to the volume and length."

The pros seem to agree that if you have shorter lashes, struggle to reach sparse lashes, and want more versatility from your mascara, you can't go wrong with a cone-shaped mascara wand. And, for those who just want to elongate their already-lengthy eyelashes, you'll be left with a fun, dramatic look.

A bubble mascara wand lifts your lashes

Take a spike ball mascara wand, multiply it by three, and you have a bubble mascara wand. This design is great for lifting your eyelashes, as Cult Beauty describes its version of the wand as a "push-up bra for lashes." As the mascara is applied from the root to the tip of your lashes, they're lifted upward, giving them volume while also distributing more product to some sections of your eyelashes than others, given the shape of the wand.

Molly Greenwald told Sunday Riley, "They deposit inconsistent amounts of mascara, so you get more of a doll lash, where the lashes are a little more clumped together." This might be a deal-breaker if you don't like the look of clumpy lashes, but it's a unique style that can really accentuate your eyes. Greenwald continued, "You get some negative space with the mascara and a chunkier separation."

If you'd rather have a more even disbursement of mascara, don't turn your nose up at the bubble wand yet. By wiggling the mascara wand as you apply your makeup, you can reach more of your lashes with the three "bubbles" and gain a stronger lift to the entirety of your eyelashes as you go. If you struggle with straight, low lashes, the bubble mascara wand could be the perfect tool to heighten your look and your eyelashes.

A skinny mascara wand adds definition to your lashes

When you compare mascara wands, it's a common misconception to assume that fluffy brushes are automatically more beneficial than skinny ones. However, a skinny mascara brush can be a lot more powerful than it looks, especially when you're opting for a defined look over thick and dramatic lashes.

The bristles on a skinny mascara wand are shorter than fluffy wands, meaning they hold less product and prevent your eyelashes from clumping. When applying your mascara with a skinny wand, building up the mascara slowly and adding layers can keep your lashes defined while lengthening them for a more fanned-out look. The size of this mascara wand also makes application easier to control, meaning you can touch up your lower eyelashes with less smudging, or pick up your stray lashes in the corners with less hassle.

Orrea Light, L'Oreal Paris' vice president of product development, spoke to Makeup.com about the benefits of a skinny mascara wand. "It really lets you get to the root of the lashes, pull through the lash and deposit a really even coat." Given the way mascara wand trends have been going, Light said, "In a moment of big brush mascaras, I think there's going to be a big return to a smaller brush that can really get in there. It's important to have something for everybody."

A miniature mascara wand makes bottom lash application easy

Big, bulky mascara wands are a nightmare to use when you're working with small, delicate eyelashes. There are plenty of mascaras you can use on your bottom lashes, but finding a great mascara wand you can use on both the top and bottom is obviously preferred. That's why miniature mascara wands have soared in popularity lately, and makeup artists everywhere are recommending you make the swap today.

Even Ariana Grande's makeup artist, Daniel Chinchilla, has gotten on board. He told Allure he prefers using travel-sized mascaras. "The wands are smaller, and this makes it easier for most people to apply mascara without getting it everywhere." Admittedly, a smaller mascara means you'll run out sooner, but Chinchilla says this is a perk to using travel-sized products. "They won't last you as long, but because of this, you will always have fresh mascara."

The smaller size means the wand is easier to control, which is the key to a seamless lower-lash mascara application. Many people have made the switch to this type of mascara wand already, as it's easier to layer up rather than overdo your application in one go. By going slowly, you can build up the product on your top lashes while keeping your lower lashes minimal, which helps prevent your eyelashes from clumping up. This way, you can achieve an eyelash look that's comparable to that of an average-sized mascara wand, minus the mess.

A rectangle mascara wand gives overall coverage for your lashes

You've almost definitely stumbled across a rectangle mascara wand before, as it's probably the most common shape used in generic mascaras. This is because a rectangle mascara wand doesn't usually have any additional designs or fancy bristles to reach every individual lash, like the cone-shaped wand for example, and remains a consistent shape throughout, but it delivers nonetheless.

Leigh Raeder, a licensed cosmetologist and makeup artist, wrote on her website that, "[A rectangle mascara wand] won't get into every nook and cranny, but the shorter, squared off bristles will stretch and pull your lashes to new levels of volume and length." This style of wand is great for overall coverage if you're looking for a quick and easy lash boost, and Raeder says it's also best for achieving length and volume.

So who should use a rectangle mascara wand? The truth is, just about anyone would benefit from one if you're not looking for an impeccable curl or intensely thick lash. Steve Kassajikian, a makeup artist for Urban Decay, told Martha Stewart that this wand is ideal for "adding volume and length to shorter, sparse lashes." So if your lashes are on the shorter side, or are just in need of a quick pick-me-up, this is usually a great option you can find at any local drugstore.