A friend once told me that she favors a natural looking lash. Lovelies, that’s not me! If I were more adept at wearing falsies, I would absolutely wear them every day. The truth is, I’m about two-decades away from favoring a Tammy-Faye Face.
In all honesty, I have decent eyelashes – they are fairly long and fairly thick (don’t hate me – I also have ample cellulite and stretch marks for days, so it’s merely a consolation prize) and I’ve always loved mascara. It is the one item that can instantly brighten your eyes – even on rough mornings. I have been researching this post for years and I’m so excited to bring you The Fablushes Ultimate Guide to Mascara!
As you read through this list, you’ll notice that I will point out different things I like about certain mascaras – even for the products that aren’t ideal for me. I know we are all different and have different needs for mascaras, so I have tried to be extremely objective. You will also notice that drug-store mascaras are not included in this list and there’s a simple reason for that – about 20 years ago, I tried Lancôme Mascara for the first time and it was life-changing. While I’m sure that the drug-store formulas have improved a great deal over the years, this is one product where quality absolutely trumps quantity (or price). Even while I was in college, I would save and scrape to buy a $20.00 tube of mascara and I still believe that it’s money well spent. Windows to the soul, and all that.
Before we jump right in to the rankings, I’d like to touch on primers and conditioners, because I think it’s important to keep those little flutterers healthy! While the available primers on the market are numerous, there are really only three that I recommend. Lancôme’s Cils Booster ($25.50) was the first one I ever tried and it remains a favorite. With a relatively small amount of product, you get increased thickness and length with the added benefit of conditioning. I’ve recently discovered Manna Kadar Cosmetics ($20.00) Conditioner/Primer and it’s my current favorite. It feels so hydrating, I have even been using it at night. Frankly, I prefer it as a conditioner to a primer, and highly recommend giving it a try. Of course, the problem with both of these products is that they are WHITE, which means it can take quite a bit of product to cover up. Leave it to Benefit Cosmetics , a cosmetics company that does so much perfectly right, to fix that little problem with their They’re Real Tinted Lash Primer ($24.00). This product is absolutely amazing. As a primer, it adds great length and volume without requiring a ton of product on top due to it’s brown hue. This product can also be used independently as a mascara for those days when you actually do want a natural look (hahahahahahaha).
If you’re eager to try Younique’s Fiber Mascaras, create a Facebook or Instagram account and post that you’re looking for a new mascara to try. You will be inundated with offers ranging from $10.00-$30.00. But I’m here to tell you, I’ve tried it and it’s so unbelievably awful I can’t even explain (and not just because the company name is so stupid that it offends me). It does make your eyelashes POP, but it’s hard to appreciate nice lashes when your eyes are red, swollen and teary from those little fibers falling into your eyes with a burning and searing pain that is quite special. I had a lot of hope in tarte’s Best in Faux ($20.00) because everything tarte does is amazing, but sadly, this one is a real miss too. The little fibers are just not eye-friendly! I don’t have particularly sensitive eyes, and I’ve talked to several friends that had the same experience, so I’m not really sure who can use these products. The Verdict: save your money & your corneas.
Good Looking, But Shallow
In the world of beauty, there are products that are so attractive and from quality companies that I know I should love them, but I simply don’t. I tend to think that these are mascaras produced by high-end companies because they feel like they need to create a mascara for their line, but it’s an afterthought. It pretty much breaks my heart. It’s like that gorgeous guy that checks all the boxes at first glance, but 10 minutes into the conversation you realize he’s a soulless twit. NARS Audacious Mascara ($26.00) is perhaps the biggest offender. The packaging, like all NARS products, is gorgeous and reminiscent of a pair of Louboutin’s but the product leaves me empty. The wand is pretty thick which makes application difficult and the spiky wand doesn’t hold much product. On the upside, it’s great for separating lashes, so if clumping is your main concern, this might be an option. Make Up Forever makes my favorite brushes, amazing primers and one of my top 3 foundations, but their Smoky Extravagant Mascara ($12.00 – $24.00) leaves me emotionless. I haven’t tried any of their other formulations, but this one has a brush that is tapered towards the tip with a fuller part towards the handle that I usually like because you can get the little lashes towards the inner and outer corners. The product just seems a little too thick to adhere to the brush, making application tedious, if at all possible. On the upside, you can purchase the travel size, something I love when companies offer, so you can try it for yourself to see if you agree or not. For the final product in this category, I trialed the Yves St. Laurent Mascara Effect Volume Faux Cils BabyDoll ($34.00). For the same reasons that I dislike the Make Up Forever mascara above, I dislike this product. The brush shape is very basic, however, so it doesn’t even have that going for it. Frankly, I’m offended that they are even charging $34.00 for this product. The final product in this category is from blinc. While innovation is usually a good thing, I don’t like this product – at all. Blinc Mascara ($26.00) forms tiny tubes of waterproofing around the eyelashes and claims to add length and volume. I tried it several times and couldn’t manage to create either. Of course, I think if one were the type of person that would spend a great deal of time delicately applying mascara to your lashes, this might work for you. For me, I find the removal process extremely concerning. You aren’t supposed to use a remover, you are simply supposed to add water and rub until the tubes release from your lashes – this just can’t be healthy.
The Big Brush Off
This category is dedicated to mascaras that I really like, with really neat brush designs that add a great deal to the usefulness of the product. Of course, a good brush design alone isn’t enough to make a great mascara, and all of these are great! The biggest surprise for me was the MTJ High Definition Mascara ($21.80) is from the Italian company MTJ Cosmetics and is not widely available in the US yet. You can follow them on Facebook, or order through Glossybox, but it works extremely well. The brush is a series of little balls that hold a ton of glossy product to really coat the lashes. I wouldn’t run all over the globe trying to find this product, but I do like it quite a lot. Next up, Lancôme’s Grandiose Mascara ($32.00) which definitely wins for the most creative wand. Lancôme was the first high-end mascara I ever used, and I truly love ALL of their mascara formulas. The Hynose (all versions of it) is an amazing product and was my go-to for many, many years. My daughter is new to learning how to apply make-up, and I’m sure you remember how terrifying applying mascara was when you were a youngster! 🙂 This wand is quite long and has a neat angle that really lets her get close to her lids without fear of gouging her eyes out. I definitely love this mascara and would absolutely use it, happily. As a little surprise, along comes this dark-horse candidate from it Cosmetics, their 5-in-1 Mascara ($24.00) that contains conditioning ingredients with a ball-tip brush that really lets you apply mascara vertically to separate and lengthen lashes, and get in to those little lashes in the corners. I really like it Cosmetics, the company message and what they stand for, but I’m a little concerned with the infomercials and how that will cheapen the image of the brand.
Noteworthy and Notable
I can only have three favorites, but with so many products to choose from, I needed a category to put the mascaras that I’ve tried that I truly love, but just aren’t the end-all-be-all for me. First up in this category is Dior’s Diorshow Blackout Mascara ($27.50)– it adds crazy length and volume, but loses points for not being anything close to smudge-proof. If you only need to make your eyelashes amazing for a short period of time, then this would be a great choice. Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($26.00) gives fluttery volume that is soft but impactful. I really like the way this makes my bottom lashes look, and of all the mascara’s I’ve reviewed here, it gives a much more natural looking lash. Really pretty. Finally, Too Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara ($23.00) definitely isn’t, but, it’s a great product from a great company! Imparting tons of volume and length with a deep, inky blackness, this mascara is definitely one that checks all of my boxes and it’s very similar to another product I love, Josie Maran’s Argan Black Oil Mascara ($22.00) which must be loved by many because it’s currently sold-out on Sephora.com! In addition to the length and fullness provided by the Black Oil mascara, I feel like it’s nourishing and moisturizing due to the argan oil.
And the Winner is…
Buxom Cosmetics is one of my go-to brands for lip products, but I have to include them here because they sell mascara in a way that no one else does – but that everyone else absolutely should. With an average price of $20.00 per tube, and only in store, you can select your mascara formula and your wand…separately. Seriously, how genius is this?!?! I haven’t found the combination that works perfectly for me just yet (and I haven’t given it more than a cursory effort, TBH) but this is so unique and different that it just bears mentioning.
My second favorite of all time is Benefit Cosmetic’s Roller Lash ($12.00-$24.00) . This is one of those products that I will never, ever live without. Inspired by hair rollers, the brush has tiny little barbs on it that curl your lashes while you apply it, and you definitely do not need to use an eyelash curler if you’re using this. It’s an absolute miracle and makes my eyes look wide-awake in seconds. I’ve recommended this product to friends with short lashes, and they haven’t liked it, so I would guess that it works better if your lashes are medium length or longer. Of course, you can buy the travel size of this product for $12.00 which will give you a great idea of whether you will like it or not. All I know is that a couple swipes of this, and my lashes are BANGIN’! It definitely provides more length than volume, and even Benefit recommends using it in conjunction with their They’re Real($24.00) mascara to plump up the curled lashes. I don’t like that product all that much, however, so instead, I use this one as a base coat for my most favorite mascara…
Stila’s Huge Extreme Lash Mascara ($23.00) which is also currently out-of-stock on Sephora.com. I love everything Stila creates, and if I had to choose one cosmetics company for the rest of my life, there is not a doubt in my mind that it would be Stila, but this mascara is, quite simply, LIFE.
I mean, seriously – look at those lashes! No primer, no anything – just two coats of Stila’s Huge Extreme Lash Mascara. I absolutely adore it.
So lovelies, that concludes my Ultimate Guide to Mascara! Did I miss any of your favorites or do you think there is another product I should try? Let me know! xx
All prices are quoted from Sephora.com, dermstore.com or the company website unless otherwise noted. I chose this method to try to keep some consistency in pricing. In all cases, the company name links directly to the company name and the name of the mascara links to product ordering. This should not be an implied endorsement for ordering from a specific store – I would always suggest price-shopping!