Battle Of The Mascaras — Meet The Heavyweights With The Knockout Punches!
Bring ’em out, bring ’em out (cue the T.I. song)! The champs are here!
We spent months (and we do mean months) testing our hundreds of mascaras from brands such as Shiseido, Smashbox, Make Up For Ever, Ellis Faas, Givenchy, Bourjois, MAC, Estee Lauder, Urban Decay, NYX, Styli Style, NYC New York Color, Clinique, Bare Escentuals, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Rimmel, Cover Girl, Revlon, Korres, and Max Factor. We then pit the mascaras against each another, letting them duke it out for the top spot in their respective classes. And, since there are weight-based divisions in boxing, we created similar categories for our pool of contenders, dividing them into sections based on their ability to lengthen, define, volumize and plump, deliver vibrant color, and create a smoky effect.
The mascaras fought to the death, and there were plenty of nail-bitingly close matches but, after several elimination rounds, we finally narrowed the list of contenders and crowned the top, championship belt-worthy mascaras. To illustrate the benefits of each mascara, I’ve included pictures of me wearing the various choices (because, after all, pictures complete the story!). Check out our findings!
With these, your lids will flutter like butterflies but deliver the impacting sting of a billion bees.
BEST LENGTHENING MASCARAS
1. Clinique High Lengths Mascara
Clinique High Lengths Mascara, $14. Available at Clinique.com
When we first reviewed this mascara, we couldn’t stop gushing about the Betty Boop effect it so successfully created. The small tines along the wand operate like miniature combs, separating lashes to guarantee no clumping, while also drawing out any teeny lashes from their hiding places and properly extending them. The wand features a gently curved wand that follows the natural, half-moon shape of the lash line, making the application process easy and mess-free.
2. Cover Girl Lash Blast Length Mascara
Cover Girl Lash Blast Length Mascara, $8.39. Available at mass food and drug stores. To buy online, visit Ulta.com
Since Drew Barrymore is one of my imaginary homegirls (you know you have some too!), I was intrigued to try the latest mascara she was advertising as part of her Cover Girl campaign. And sure, I know she’s getting paid to rave about every single Cover Girl release but, somehow, in my weird little mind, I felt like when she talked about the Lash Blast mascara, she meant it. Yeah, it’s strange, but that’s what first drew me to this mascara. Fortunately, Drew did not steer me wrong! With these, your lashes feel like those of porcelain dolls. Admittedly, it doesn’t yield as dramatic an effect as that of the Clinique High Lengths mascara, but it’s a slightly more affordable alternative.
BEST FOR LASH DEFINITION
1. Estée Lauder TurboLash Mascara
Estee Lauder TurboLash Mascara, $32. Available at EsteeLauder.com
It takes a minute to get used to this oscillating mascara wand but, once you become accustomed to the vibrating sensation, you won’t be able to imagine life before it (in that way, it’s similar to a battery-operated toothbrush). The motorized mascara curls and coats lashes with color while separating them for a fanned out effect. Feel the vibration!
2. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara
Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara, $29. Available at Sephora.com
Truth be told, this is probably my favorite mascara ever. When it was first released, people couldn’t stop talking about the innovative brush with its spherical shape and spike-like bristles. In fact, other brands tried to replicate the technology to no avail (ahem, L’Oréal Telescopic Explosion Mascara). Why is it so amazing? Well, the shape of the tip allows you to reach even the teeniest hairs along the lash line, and it helps to keep lashes nicely separated for a dramatic, fan-like effect. Think of the lashes you’d find on a Japanese Manga character —that’s what you get with the phenomenal Phenomen’Eyes. The mascara is available in a basic black hue, as well as in perky colors like Purple (pictured below), Blue, Khaki, Plum, and more. There’s even a new waterproof version just releases for Summer 2010, which won’t budge when you sweat or even when you go for a sprint under some sprinklers at the park.
And here’s me wearing the Phenomen’Eyes mascara in black:
3. Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara
Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara, $6.74. Available at mass food and drug retailers. To order online, visit Target.com
Though this mascara doesn’t fan out lashes as effectively as the two aforementioned ones, it does offer great separation and definition. An Allure magazine award winner in 2007 and 2008, this inexpensive mascara is easy to use (you simply brush from root to tip) and it’s designed to eliminate the possibility of any clumping fiasco.
BEST VOLUMIZING MASCARAS
1. Maybelline Colossal Volume Express
Maybelline Colossal Volume Mascara, $6.99. Available at mass food and drug retailers. To order online, visit Ulta.com
If the bodacious bottle and juicy brush didn’t give it away, this is the Sumo wrestling champ of lash volume. Know how you look at the models’ lashes in mascara commercials and think, ‘They have to be wearing false lashes’? Well, this one delivers as-good-as-seen-on-TV results (and boy, is that rare!).
2. L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara
L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara, $7.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. Visit Walgreens.com
Though it’s not quite clump-proof, this mascara does deliver a powerful dose of deep black color and it gives the appearance of thicker, fuller lashes. That being said, it does tend to flake a bit but at under $10, it’s a great deal.
3. MAC Plush Lash Mascara
MAC Plush Lash Mascara, $13. Available at MACcosmetics.com
I was pretty sold on the MAC Studio Fix Lash mascara — that is, until I tried the MAC Plush Lash mascara. This mascara’s chubby brush manages to gently curl lashes, while the formula’s hydrating ingredients allow you to build volume one coat at a time, without the mascara drying out to leave lashes looking stiff and unseemly.
4. Maybelline Lash Stiletto Voluptuous Mascara
Maybelline Lash Stiletto Voluptuous Mascara, $8.49. Available at mass food and drug retailers. To order online, visit Ulta.com
Maybelline’s Lash Stiletto always ranked among my top mascara picks, but the new Lash Stiletto Voluptuous ups the ante more than a pair of sky-high Lady Gaga heels. The mascara’s S-shaped brush hold more of the mascara formula in its bristles and curves, so that this substance is, in turn, deposited onto lashes more effectively. With each stoke of the mascara wand, then, you’ll be lengthening and plumping lashes (thanks to conditioning agents like pro-vitamin B5).
5. Buxom Lash Mascara
Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara, $18. Available at Sephora.com
To give you lashes a bodacious look, you can always reach for this paraben-free, antioxidant-rich mascara, which nourishes and hydrates lashes while lifting, separating and plumping each individual hair. The result: lashes with as bangin’ a bod as Christina Hendricks.
Here’s a pic where I’m wearing the BE Buxom Lash mascara:
BEST MASCARAS FOR A SMOKY EFFECT
1. Make Up For Ever Aqua Smoky Lash Mascara
Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Mascara, $22. Available at Sephora.com
Remember the rumor that Nestor Carbonell (Richard on “Lost”) wore eyeliner and how shocked people were when they discovered his lashline was naturally pigmented an opaque black color? Well, imagine if you could make your lashes as pitch-black as those of burlesque star Dita Von Teese but — and this is the key— have them look as if you were genetically predisposed to such fortunate window dressing for your eyes. Make Up For Ever’s Smoky Lash Mascara features nylon fibers that adhere to lashes, extending them well past their natural tips, as well as a bio-extender made with red algae that strengthens hair fibers. Panthenol Pro-vitamin B5, meanwhile, conditions and nourishes your natural lashes, while natural mineral pigments made of micronized iron oxide deliver rich color without aggravating those with sensitive eyes.
2. Ellis Faas E401 Mascara
Ellis Faas E401 Mascara, $34. Available at EllisFaas.com
It takes a bit of dexterity to maneuver the long wand of Ellis Faas’ mascara, but any hand-coordination skills necessary are well worth the extra effort. The best part: you can brush lashes from root to tip if you want an evenly opaque all-over look, or you can manipulate the brush to create customized looks, making certain lashes curve to great heights while leaving others to appear a bit shorter for a spidery effect, creating a clumpy, caterpillar-like effect, and more.
3. Bourjois 1001 Cils Mascara
Bourjois 1001 Cils Mascara, $17. Available at Ulta.com
This richly pigmented mascara features a helix-shaped applicator that allows you to reach covert lashes (as in those teeny hair strands that try to go unnoticed). With a few strokes, you can get Elizabeth Taylor-worthy lashes to frame your gorgeous peepers.
4. MAC Fibre Rich Lash Mascara
MAC Fibre Rich Lash, $13. Available at MACcosmetics.com
Volume isn’t the only important consideration when you have a relatively depopulated lashline. What you want is to create the illusion of density, the appearance that you have more lashes than you actually do. After all, no matter how much thicken a measly 10 eyelashes (to use an arbitrary and entirely unrealistic number), your efforts won’t amount to a nice and bushy arch along the lid. This mascara, then, helps to create the appearance of a fuller lash line thanks to a patented combination of long and short bristles that deposit small fibres on the lash, creating a web-like coating over the lashes.
BEST COLORED MASCARAS
1. Urban Decay Big Fatty Mascara
Urban Decay Big Fatty Colored Mascara, $17. Available at Sephora.com
When it comes to color, few brands have as much fun as Urban Decay so it’s to be expected that the line would offer the most vibrant mascaras out there. Urban Decay’s Big Fatty Mascara, which pumps up the volume on your lashes, is available in funky hues like Black Cherry, Electric Blue, Flipside, Indigo and Purple Haze.
2. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara
Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes, $28. Available at Sephora.com
Since I alreadyy waxed poetic about the joys of this mascara, I won’t bore you with more details about this mascara’s wand or its exquisite brush tip. I will say this: Givenchy has continued to innovate with its already pitch-perfect mascara by releasing it in a kaleidoscope-worthy array of colors: Black, Brown, Blue, Khaki, Purple, and Plum. I’m particularly fond of the Purple Phenomen’Eyes (pictured below on my lashes). The pigments aren’t quite as intense as the Urban Decay mascaras, making them a great alternative for when you want to add an unexpected hint of color to your eye look.
WINNERS BY DECISION: TOP 5 MASCARAS ACROSS ALL CATEGORIES
1. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara
2. Clinique High Lengths Mascara
3. Estée Lauder Turbo Lash Mascara
4. Ellis Faas E401 Mascara
5. Maybelline Colossal Volume Express Mascara