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Mascara. Arguably one of the most important tools in any beauty lovers’ arsenal. However, they’re far from all created equal, and what we want out of a mascara varies wildly.
There are fresh-faced beauties out there who crave a natural look, just amped up a touch. Then there are those who crave a hint of drama - sooty black lashes to help their eyes look wider and brighter. And, of course, the there’s those that seek a mascara that brings about a doe-eye effect - full-on Bambi (our personal preference for night out - a set of drag-queen lashes is a great short-cut to a good time).
The market for mascaras, you may have noticed, is flooded, and there is likely a specific task you’re hoping your wee wand will achieve.
It may be you want to lengthen and volumise your lashes, or simply define the colour (blondes often seek to darken fair lashes), or to curl super straight lashes to open up the eye. Then there are the serial smudgers/criers, who are just after a waterproof mascara that Stays Put.
And while every make-up brand has its own range of mascaras, each which boast a new innovative formula and unique brush which claim to be better than all other products out there, it can be difficult to identify the mascara that suits your needs and beauty desires.
Never fear. We’re here to help you choose.
What are the benefits of mascara?
A good mascara will darken and define your eyelashes, while opening your eyes up, making them look bigger and brighter.
Which is the best mascara for me?
The only way to find your perfect match is through trial and error, but we’ve rounded up seven of our top picks below which will guide you in making the most well-informed choice before you part with your hard-earned cash.
Please, please though - mascaras are not a product that last indefinitely. If the wand is clogged up, the tube dried out - just invest in a new one. A mascara shouldn’t be hanging around your dressing table for longer than six months or it won’t do you any favours.
Can I wear mascara with a lash lift or false eyelashes?
If you’ve had a lash lift, you’re fine to apply lashings of mascara from 24 hours after the procedure took place. Falsies are another story - put away the wand, you’ll damage the expensive effect achieved by applying false eyelashes, and hasten their demise.
What other beauty products can I buy?
We’ve rounded up some of the best beauty and fashion buys on our dedicated Recommended page, so please bookmark the page and keep checking back regularly to get your hands on some top products at the best possible price.
You’ll find our guide to luxury cosmetic subscription service Beauty Pie, along with the 10 best retinol serums and creams, and 16 of the best vegan skincare brands for you to fall in love with in 2022.
Mascara is one of the beauty products that doesn’t require huge expenditure to ensure a decent product, and this cult product from Maybelline is a great example.
Beauty mavens may have spotted it doing the rounds on TikTok, where users demonstrate how great it is for building height and curling the lashes. Layered, this is a mascara that adds DRAMA, and we’re big fans of the bendy brush, which follows the natural shape of the lashes well.
Smudgers: this is not for you, at least not without a tubing mascara on top to seal it it. Also, it will need reapplication if you want to take it comfortably from day to night: it’s not a ‘long-lasting’ product.
If it’s good enough for the stunning Zendaya...
French beauty powerhouse brand Lancôme is renowned for game-changing mascaras, and their latest is no exception - this is brilliant at fanning out your lashes, lifting, and adding volume, for a gorgeously full-yet-natural look.
The brush here is a serious proposition: 360 micro-bristles, 250 different sizes, meaning the wand works over-time to hit every lash. It’s curved, too, ideal for root-to-tip coverage.
One layer will lift your lashes and add volume, and you can up the ante by adding more layers - this jet-black mascara impressively doesn’t clump. You don’t need to worry about stiff lashes too - by some miracle, this power-house mascara leaves your lashes feeling downy-soft.
After the false lash effect without the faff? This best selling product from Benefit is the one for you.
With a soot black formula, this mascara promises a lot but manages to deliver. “Length, volume, lift!” it claims, and does an impressive job on all three fronts.
We have incredibly straight eyelashes, and this baby did a great job of imparting a lift and curl that lasted the whole evening.
You’ll have lashes Ru-Paul would be proud of yet - miraculously - it doesn’t make them feel crusty.
Points against? A plastic bristle brush (a no-no for many discerning connoisseurs). But it’s a long, flexible brush, which we found helped deliver products from root to top, so we weren’t mad at it.
If your lashes have had a tough time, this is the mascara to help coax them back to full strength.
bareMinerals’ always focus on formulas kind to skin, and their serum-infused mascara is no exception. following
Infused with a serum rich in peptides and amino acids, it’s gentler on your lashes than some more full-on formulas, helping them to grow softer and more subtle. That said, it imparts an impressive look too - we found it improved the volume, definition, and lift of our lashes.
If your lashes are growing back following chemo, this is what we’d recommend as a gentle re-entry. (Once treatment is complete)
Charlotte Tilbury is the doyenne of dramatic make-up, and her Push-Up mascara went viral on release - for good reason.
Want to open up your eyes for a striking, wide-eyed look? Here you go. With a two-sided brush, it’s designed so you first apply the mascara to your lashes wit a flat, paddle-style wand. Then flip round to separate and lift with the bristle-side of the brush.
The result is glossy black, high-volume lashes - a proper Marilyn Monroe look - that lasts impressively long.
Another two-sided brush here, but with a different rationale - the flat side of the brush is for a subtle, natural day-time look, the round-side for an evening va-va-voom that would do Rihanna proud.
Layer lashes with the fat side at night when you want higher-impact lashes.
We love the colour range of this brand, too - the forest green looks gorgeous in contrast to blue eyes, while the burgundy option absolutely sings on Afro-Caribbean skin.
Online success story Glossier loves creating products that create a fresh-faced ‘no-make-up make-up’ look, so no surprises their mascara excels in that capacity.
An impressively weightless formula, it’s tiny fibres coat lashes, adding subtle definition, but remaining natural - you, but at your most pretty.
Tubing mascaras are the best friend of those whose eyes are prone to irritation or people who touch their eyes a great deal and thus smudge. They use a special polymer that ‘coats’ the lashes - sort-of a wax covering, meaning that the coverage will absolutely stay put no matter what you put it through. At the end of the day, hot water and a gentle rub and the mascara will ‘peel off’ in small tubes - deeply satisfying.
This, from Hourglass, is for out money the best tubing mascara on the market, giving a curled, high-volume effect that comes off easily with warm water when you need it to.
Our best friend calls this ‘falsies in a tube’ and we concur - this is a brilliant way of cultivating drag queen lashes with a few flicks of the wrist.
With whopping 5mm long fibres in it’s formula (3mm is the standard), this will cling, limpet like, to your natural lashes, plumping in an instant, and curling them upwards. The more layers, the higher the drama. Three, and you’ll be Bambi-like in your beauty.
Lashes will still feel lightweight and flexible, and stays puts throughout the day, with no clumping or flaking.