A great pair of realistic-looking fake eyelashes can be pretty costly, so there's no reason they should be a single-serving beauty product. It's actually pretty easy to rid your false lashes of mascara clumps and glue strings, leaving them looking as pristine as the day you bought them.
According to Tymia Yvette, professional , a single pair of false eyelashes can be good for multiple uses. "You can reuse strip lashes two or three times," Yvette says.
Knowing how to clean your fake eyelashes without ruining them can extend the life of your falsies and save you money. Here are some tips from the pros.
How to Remove Fake Eyelashes
Listen, no one is super fond of touching their eyes, but removing fake lashes with tweezers, picking at them with your nails, or clamping and yanking with an eyelash curler can seriously damage your fake lashes—not to mention your, you know, eye. The best way to peel off your false lashes:
1. Thoroughly wash your hands with antibacterial soap.
2. Grip the outer corner of your false lashes between your thumb and forefinger, and then gently tug them off. If you're using bunches of individual lashes, take them out section by section with your fingers. The key word here is gentle—you don't want to pull the real thing out alongside your false lashes!
3. Use eye makeup remover and a cotton ball to clean any remaining glue from your real lashes. It can be tempting to pick at pesky glue clumps, but don't give in—if you do, you'll be so much more likely to pull away a sticky glob of your own eyelashes.
How to Clean False Eyelashes
Most of us apply a coat or two of mascara over our fake lashes because, hey, anything worth doing is worth doing right. But product buildup can lead to creased, broken, and gunky-looking fake lashes, not to mention opening up the possibility of getting an eye infection next time you wear them. However, you've probably got all the products you need to clean your false eyelashes in your medicine cabinet right now.
1. Start with cotton swabs, paper towels, and either rubbing alcohol or oil-free eye makeup remover.
2. Place the false lashes on a paper towel and douse the end of your cotton swab in alcohol or eye makeup remover, squeezing off any excess product.
3. Use the cotton swab to gently rub away eye makeup and glue from your lashes, making sure to pay extra attention to the lash bands, which usually get pretty gross.
4. Finish the makeup removal process by using another cotton swab dipped in warm water to clean off any remaining mascara.
5. Never squeeze your false lashes dry after cleaning them! Let them air dry on a paper towel.
Investing in a spray bottle for your cleanser can help make cleaning a cinch, according to Noël Jacoboni, a in New York City.
"I would suggest placing the lashes on a clean, dry tissue and spraying with alcohol," Jacoboni says. "Granted, this doesn't work for all types of lashes but has a great return rate for me. This is mostly for synthetic fiber lashes and not natural fiber lashes. Make sure you know the difference!"
Mink lashes, made from natural fiber, generally don't need any additional mascara. If you'd like to wear mascara with them, use it only on your real eyelashes before applying your mink lashes. When you're finished wearing them, gently remove glue with tweezers. Water and cleaning products will cause them to lose their shape.
Another way to clean mascara from synthetic false eyelashes is to soak cotton pads in alcohol or eye makeup remover and lightly press lash strips between pads to dissolve eye makeup. When the pads come away clean, finish washing your lashes by pressing them between two cotton pads soaked in warm water.
How to Remove Eyelash Glue
After you finish cleaning the mascara off your false lashes, you'll probably still have a few glue clumps stuck to the lash bands. Don't try to scrape or scrub them off. Instead, use a pair of tweezers to pull away any remaining glue.
Time to Store Them
When you buy a great new set of fake eyelashes, don't toss the box! Instead, use it to store and shape your lashes until the next time you need them.
And remember, a used set of lashes is for your personal stash only. "Never bring a used pair of lashes to a professional or makeup counter to have them applied," Jacoboni says. "Reuse is for personal application only. There's a risk of spreading eye infections to the professional—I never allow my clients to bring me used lashes for application. They need to buy a new pair every time."
While it may feel a little silly to stand over your bathroom counter diligently swabbing a set of eyelashes, knowing how to clean your false eyelashes means that not only will they last longer, but the next time you wear them, it will be a lot easier to place the lash naturally on top of your real lash line without a bunch of gummy buildup. There's really nothing worse than having someone point out the fuzz in your eyelashes, only to have to explain that, no, it's eyelash glue, not some kind of weird eye dandruff.
lives in Brooklyn, NY, and writes about beauty, food, and TV. Sometimes all at once. Follow her on Twitter .