The Non-Surgical Eye Lift

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

OK, you have to bear with me here, because the revelation that follows is so unbelievably obvious I’m almost embarrassed to post about it. What we have here isn’t some new-fangled eye cream ingredient or a fancy, muscle-toning massage move. It’s not an optical illusion-creating makeup trick or an expert-endorsed skincare regime and it’s not anything that requires knives, needles, rollers with needles, patches with needles or lasers that feel like needles. Or knives.

It’s mascara.

Stay with me people – I told you this non-surgical eye lift idea was going to be obvious. But have you ever properly examined hundreds of close-up photos of yourself with the sole aim of working out why you look better in one particular picture than all of the others? Or spent hours focusing on one tiny part of your face, trying to determine why it seems so much more youthful when you’re wearing a certain makeup look or product?

ruth crilly close-up beauty

The answer to that question is “probably not”, because I’m guessing you’re not mad or pathologically vain or blessed with unlimited amounts of time to look at photos of yourself, but one of the most time-consuming parts of my job happens to be just this: examining close-up pictures of my own face. I do it to analyse foundations (comparing coverage and dewiness and general quality of the finish), I do it when I’m trying to discern minute changes in my skin (pigmentation, redness, darkness under the eyes, congestion beneath the surface), I even do it when I’m trying to decide whether or not I like a certain lipstick colour against my skin tone.

I zoom right in on my high-res pictures, so that my pores are as huge as craters and nasal hairs sprout out from the screen like wiry black saplings (always a joy) and then I zoom back out again and look at the overall effect of whatever it is I’m examining – whether it’s a full makeup look or a complexion enhancer or just the fact that I’ve managed to successfully comb my eyebrows. And for the past week, my attentions have been focused on the eye area and the dramatic difference that various makeup products can make to the droopiness of lids and darkness of circles and general knackered appearance.

Anyway I’ve gone off piste here, because you probably clicked to find out what the best non-surgical eye lift trick was and I said “mascara” and then blabbered on about my computer, so if you’re still reading then yes, it’s as simple as that. Mascara is, I think, the best and quickest non-surgical eye lift you can possibly give yourself. False corner lashes are probably on a par, especially if your own lashes are puny or non-existent and don’t bolster up with a coating or two of tar-like lash paint, but mascara is the fastest and most faff-free method.

Really, I should just stop talking and show you the evidence, because behold:

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

What a difference! OK, granted on the second picture I also have lip stuff on and a bit of glow and bronzer, but zoom on in and isolate the eyes and you’ll see what I mean about instant lift:

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

It’s quite astounding, don’t you think? I mean, you’ve probably already realised the wondrousness of mascara and never fail to apply it, etc etc, but for those who (like me) often skip it on a lazy day, does this not just make the most amazing difference you’ve ever seen?

Perhaps it’s because my lashes, when visible (you can’t even see them sans mascara), hide my droopy hooded bits and the fact that my lid area is non-existent, maybe it’s because the lashes frame my eyes and make them look more open. Maybe the upwards swoops and curves draw everything upwards and make me seem fresh and wide-eyed. I don’t know, but it bloody works. It’s the world’s quickest, cheapest eye lift.

And I’m questioning why – why oh why – I don’t spend an extra few minutes every day getting my mascara just right. Because it does, admittedly, take a bit of care and attention to get the full “eye lift” effect – you need the lashes to curve nicely upwards and not stick out straight, you need to have smooth, separated lashes and not clumpy, crumbly ones and you need to elongate the lash, not load it with so much tar that it looks short and stumpy.

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

And it’s as much about finding the right mascara as it is applying it well – you want lots of product at the root to lift the lash, so the brush or comb needs to distribute it in a way that works for you, you want beautiful separation, so the mascara wand – again – needs to be the right type for your lashes. But get all of this right and the eye-lift effect is yours – unless, as stated previously, you have mascara-immune lashes and nothing ever works for you, in which case you can earn a similar effect (or better!) by putting yourself through the torturous process of gluing false lashes on, which is, I have to say, one of my most-hated beauty procedures.

All of the photos on this page, by the way, were taken about a week ago and I haven’t digitally altered anything – I didn’t even curl my lashes, actually, which was an oversight. But I didn’t do the photos with the intention of writing about mascara or eyes – they were originally to show off a new lip product I’ve been testing – and so I wasn’t paying full attention to the lashline. My revelation came later when I was editing and realised that my eyes looked about ten years younger when I had properly applied mascara on.

So apologies if this post has been a bit of a non-entity for you – a disappointing anti-climax. There’s no secret eye cream miracle here, just good old mascara (and this one costs a tenner – it’s here*, post upcoming) and a bit of care with the application. I suppose I could have just put a before and after shot on Instagram and a couple of sentences saying “wow, look at the difference, I never realised before, blah blah blah”, but I felt as though it was enough of a eureka moment to warrant a full website dedication.

So more on mascaras coming up – I have two extremely good ones that are currently going through my vigorous testing procedures – but they are such a personal thing, aren’t they? One person’s “holy grail” mascara is another’s most-hated. (My sister loves Benefit’s They’re Real, I can’t stand it.) What’s your favourite mascara? I’m compiling my top five at the moment, but it’s proving to be really difficult! I reckon that Clarins Supra Volume is still at number one (brown shade), but the one I’ve used in these photos is pretty wonderful (KIKO, here*) and I also love Chanel Volume de Chanel and Guerlain Maxi Lash…

Answers on a postcard along with your best eye-lifting mascara application tips. Go go go!

© 2018 A Model Recommends®: all opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. Please see here for full "about" section and disclaimer. A Model Recommends and Ruth Crilly are registered trademarks.



  1. Carole Frost
    May 15, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    Wilkinson false lash effect. Honestly, it costs, like, tuppence and is absolutely brilliant. Plus it stays flexible so you can you eyelash curlers after you’ve put it on as well as, or instead of, before. It doesn’t smudge or run but comes off easily with make up remover. What’s not to love xx

    • Mia
      May 15, 2018 / 10:49 pm

      I love Max Factor Masterpiece Max! ☺️ It gives ‘Va Va Voom’ after just two coats & to top it all I bought it for £4.99 on Ebay☺️ Mia x

    • Lisa
      May 16, 2018 / 7:41 am

      Yes the Essence brand by Wilkinson is very good and so cheap x

  2. May 15, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    Agreed, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best! I didn’t wear mascara to the office for the longest time, but now I can’t live without it, especially after having two kids and zero sleep.

    Angela at Blush & Pearls

  3. Dee
    May 15, 2018 / 6:51 pm

    Benefit Roller Lash is brilliant! Curls the lashes upwards so extra good for those of us who don’t use a curler.

  4. Tanya
    May 15, 2018 / 7:09 pm

    I love Diorshow, it’s the bomb with the fat wond and it’s light consistency, it’s defo a repurchasing product for me.

  5. May 15, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    I love Clinique mascaras. Currently using the Flutter-to-Full tubing one.

  6. rachel
    May 15, 2018 / 7:59 pm

    Do not feel bad, as we’re of a similar age and I’ve only recently had one of these types of moments myself. I used to be an at-minimum concealer and eyebrows girl (as in, you’re generally not getting me to leave the house if I don’t have time to do at least those two things) until I finally noticed that while my glasses magnify the dark circles under my eyes (hence the concealer) and highlight my unruly brows (hence the brow product) they do absolutely NOTHING to show that I do in fact have eyelashes. Bingo. Now I have eyelashes and I look more awake on a daily basis, not just when I want to wear a full face of makeup.

    My favourite mascaras are Diorshow Iconic Overcurl and Clinique Lash Power Flutter-to-Full. I find that a curved brush helps me get more lift at the outer corners so I reshaped the straight Clinique one. I do that to a lot of my mascara wands.

  7. Angela
    May 15, 2018 / 8:33 pm

    Max Factor Masterpiece Max is brilliant!

  8. May 15, 2018 / 9:12 pm

    It is amazing how much difference a simple mascara can do. One of my favourites is Benefit They’re Real, really lifts and holds your lashes, but it can be a paint to get off!

    Danielle xx

  9. Rachel
    May 15, 2018 / 10:12 pm

    Another vote for Maxfactor Masterpiece Max, I’ve been using it daily for years and find it outperforms much more expensive mascaras, it’s fab!

  10. Leona
    May 15, 2018 / 10:22 pm

    I cannot LIVE (clutches throat dramatically) without my mascara. Without it I’m just a newborn, yet strangely aged, baby hamster. My all time favourite is Lancôme Hypnose, but I’m trialling Glossier Lash Slick just now and it’s proper good.

    • May 15, 2018 / 10:26 pm

      Ha, good description – that’s how I feel without it! x

  11. Sara
    May 15, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    Blink tubing has been a wonder for my sensitive, hay fever affected eyes. Also go back to bebrfit n clinique again n again

  12. Sandie
    May 15, 2018 / 11:27 pm

    Mascara is definitely on the top of my Desert Island List. I cannot live without it, makes such a huge difference! I have always been a huge fan of the YSL False Lash and BabyDoll mascaras and my ‘sensitive’ eyes love them too.

  13. Sylvia Cowie
    May 15, 2018 / 11:31 pm

    Clarins Supravolume for me, too! Mascara is one product I didn’t use to repurchase the same one of – I tried various Maybelline ones, Benefit Roller Lash, Body Shop ones, Lancôme Hypnôse and a few others, and didn’t dislike any, but always just fancied a change. Then I discovered Clarins Supravolume (black) and I’m on my third. It’s amazing!
    Also, I agree generally. I’m not confident enough about my skin to go anywhere makeup free, but if I’m just popping to get some groceries or something, I’ll stick foundation, bronzer, and mascara on. All you need to look alive!

  14. Candace
    May 15, 2018 / 11:41 pm

    I’ve noticed too what a huge difference mascara makes to the look of my eyes. At the moment I’m really liking Lancôme monsieur big and IT cosmetics super hero.

  15. May 16, 2018 / 12:37 am

    Back when I only wore mascara to work, the days I didn’t have it on people would ask if I was sick or comment on looking tired. Having blonde lashes I feel like it’s the most important step in my makeup routine. Shocking impact!

  16. Jenny
    May 16, 2018 / 2:03 am

    Lancome Doll Lash!

  17. Emma
    May 16, 2018 / 2:18 am

    Bobbi Brown smoky lash mascara does wonders for my pale red lashes !

  18. Elena Yeates
    May 16, 2018 / 8:38 am

    I had a revelation recently as well. My eyes are too sensitive to wear mascara every day. I had my lashes lifted and darkened. I can’t tell you the effect, I have doll lashes, I am over the moon. Admittedly it is £50, but it lasts for months. I did it for the upcoming holidays, but I will be going back.

  19. Erna
    May 16, 2018 / 8:39 am

    I’ve been using Revitalash since February 2017. It’s a serum you apply as an eyeliner every evening. After a few weeks you have long curly lashes that just need a little bit of mascara (Estée Lauder’s Sumptuous Knock-Out). When people start asking if I have false lashes it’s time to stop using the product. Started again last September for again a few weeks (3 or 4) and again last February… still using the same product. It costs about € 70,00 and in Belgium you can buy this at the pharmacy or at the beauty shop. It really works wonders. A friend of mine who used false lashes is also using this now with a much prettier and natural looking effect. I don’t know if this available in the UK but I can highly recommend this. Love from Belgium XXX

    • Sara
      May 16, 2018 / 10:39 pm

      I forgot to mention revita-lash – fabulous especially for summer hols when its too much effort to put makeup on all the time. I bought mine in BE but pretty sure it’s widely available

  20. Dionne
    May 16, 2018 / 8:58 am

    I never go out without mascara. I always use a lash primer(on my brows as well before brow gel)urban decay subversion. And the currently using Gosh volume serum mascara. It’s got a weird comb type brush,which is tricky to get the hang of but once you do it’s really good. Not clumpy,but dramatic

  21. Becky
    May 16, 2018 / 9:10 am

    Currently loving Clinique’s new one, 3 different brush loads in one, and it lasts and doesn’t smudge x

  22. Cath Mooney
    May 16, 2018 / 10:44 am

    I’ve only very, very recently discovered my Holy Grail of mascaras, and it is Clinique High Impact mascara. The tubing is a revelation! It still looks as perfect at the end of the day as when I first put it on, and it is the only mascara I have ever found that doesn’t make my sensitive eyes stream with water for a couple of hours after application. Also it has a nice thin wand so I can get right into all the nooks and crannies and corners without jabbing myself in the eyeball or getting it all smudged over my lids, which at 47 years old are a lot less smooth and taut than they once were. It may not give fat lashes, but it builds up in a couple of coats to give beautiful, glossy, separated, long lashes. I love it.

    • May 16, 2018 / 3:53 pm

      Just about to give that another try after a few years’ break – I remember it being VERY good!

  23. May 16, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    I have my three staples, all Maybelline: Volum’Express MegaPlush, Volum’Express The Falsies, and good ole Define-A-Lash. Recently I wanted to try a tubing mascara and settled for NYX’s Doll Eye for volume and it’s been in heavy HEAVY rotation since. I have short, stubby Asian lashes.

  24. Bella
    May 16, 2018 / 12:31 pm

    Lancome Monsieur Big for the win!! I have the same eyes: hooded eyes, invisible lashes, that turn out to be surprisingly long with mascara applied.

  25. May 16, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    I absolutely loved this post, how fascinating and I am definitely like you in that I skip mascara a lot of the time! Having seen this though I think I might have to stop skipping it and get onto the mascara train because that is such an amazing relaxation! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo

  26. May 16, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    I enjoy Lancôme Hypnose doll eyes at the moment, and the pixi Little Black Primer, but worn on ist own (very voluminizing)

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

  27. Margaret Frye
    May 16, 2018 / 2:12 pm

    I love Bobbi Brown Smoky Eye mascara. And Diorshow Iconic Overcurl

  28. Raigan
    May 16, 2018 / 3:22 pm

    I love a coat of L’Oréal telescopic extra black right from the root, then a coat of maybelline colossal big shot as I have short straight lashes.

  29. Kristin
    May 16, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    Ive thought about having a lash lift and tint done for this very reason. My eyes just look so much better with a curl and mascara but they don’t stay curled, so I might have to give the lash perm(lift) a go.

  30. Claire B
    May 16, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    One mascara tip I learned from a charlotte tilbury video is dragging the wand ACROSS your lashes and outwards on the last coat-really gives you that look like you’re wearing corner lashes!

  31. Floopy
    May 16, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    GOSH lash sculpting fibre mascara – it’s a tubing one so stays put. I’ve been loyal to this one for quite a while now. Also second the revitalash tip – made my lashes enormous!

  32. Poppinsl
    May 16, 2018 / 9:21 pm

    I love Eyeko Black Magic mascara. For me it’s the perfect formulation and a great brush. Even if I put no other make-up on, I wouldn;t leave the house without one coat of mascara,.

  33. Claire L
    May 17, 2018 / 4:52 am

    Maybelline Colossal Express mascara is a great one, unfortunately I’m allergic to it! I had a Kiko one a couple of years ago and really liked it, It Cosmetics Superhero is also very good

  34. Lynne
    May 17, 2018 / 8:31 am

    I have hooded eyes, with blonde short lashes. I found Tanya Burr Selfie Lash, expecting to discard it immediately. However, I absolutely love that it gives me fluttery eyelashes without clumping, along with being buildable but easy to remove. In addition, it’s very affordable, so a winner for me.

    • May 17, 2018 / 10:36 am

      I really need to try this – so many people have recommended!! x

  35. NIN
    May 17, 2018 / 7:40 pm

    lancome hypnose drama is my love. especially the waterproof version, when i can handle the removing procedure…

  36. May 17, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    A coat of one and only Chanel Inimitable Volume mascara and a coat of Lancome Grandiose Extreme mascara for fancier days. Nothing beats that combination.

  37. May 17, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    L’Oreal Lash Paradise (I forget what you brits call it), Diorshow Iconic Overcurl, It Cosmetics Superhero, Covergirl Peacock Flare (I think? or some such nonsense), MUFE Excessive Lash Arresting Volume – are my current top five faves!

  38. May 20, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    I tint my eyelashes since their colour has almost disappeared as I’ve gotten older. I feel less “naked” as it were if I don’t wear mascara. Current favs otherwise are Clinique High Impact and EL Sumptuous Extreme. I don’t have a budget friendly fav at the moment, but I’m going to try this one.

  39. Potimarron
    May 21, 2018 / 10:30 pm

    My eyelashes are long but blonde (and my hair is red- go figure) so mascara makes a big difference on me. No 7 Stay Perfect is the first tubing one I’ve tried (and I’m planning to try others to see what else the high street can offer) but it’s probably the only mascara I’ve ever repurchased.

  40. May 22, 2018 / 8:37 am

    my latest discovery is Estee Lauder Somptuous Extreme, the golden tube one. one coat is more than enough (granted, I have some lashes), but it does enough for a work day.
    other faves: clarins supra volume, clinique high impact mascara, lancome hypnose classic, lancome grandiose.

  41. Mansi
    May 24, 2018 / 8:28 am

    Mad Lash from theBalm is the one cruelty-free mascara that’s not been completely underwhelming.

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