The Encyclopedia of Mascara - Beauty Addict

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Encyclopedia of Mascara

Welcome to Beauty Addict's Encyclopedia of Mascara! This single post is your one stop shop for everything I've ever written about mascara, so bookmark it, print it out, copy it to your Blackberry memopad, memorize it...whatever! It'll be updated every time I try out or review a new mascara, so check back often.

Mascaras are arranged alphabetically by brand, with the titles linked to full posts if available. Starred mascaras indicate "Beauty Addict Top Picks."

Now, a little bit about me and my lashes. I like BIG, dark, super-fat lashes - no "soft, natural" look here - so I tend to go for volumizing formulas that really stick to the lashes. As for curl, mine do that on their own, so I can't offer too much advice as to choosing a mascara that creates/holds a curl.

So while you may not agree with every review here, these are my 100% honest opinions on all the mascaras I've tried. Enjoy - and feel free to post your own impressions in the comments!

Skip to Brand:

Avon / Benefit / Besame / Blinc / Boots / Chanel / Clinique / Cover Girl / Dior / DuWop / L'Oreal / Lancome / Lumene / MAC / Maybelline / Max Factor / Prescriptives / Rimmel / Shiseido / Smashbox / Sonia Kashuk

Avon Daring Curves: The helix-shaped brush looks cool, but I found that it didn't really do much in terms of improved performance. This seemed like a pretty standard mascara to me, ok to use in a pinch but not one that I'd repurchase. I can't really comment on any curling properties as my lashes stay curly all by themselves (preparing for hate mail now).

Benefit BAD Gal: I don't get the hype on this one. The massive brush is entirely too big to maneuver in corners or on top of lashes, the formula is too thin to build serious volume, and it smudges. I love almost everything else Benefit makes, but I just can't get on the BAD Gal bandwagon!

Besame Sculpture Lash: Smudge alert! And such a shame, too, because the packaging is gorgeous and the brush is perfect, not too fat, not too skinny. This is another one that claims to curl, but I can't really comment on that property. One note: I've heard from others that the Black is the only shade that smudges. If I happen to try another color, I'll let you know.

*Blinc Kiss Me: One of those nifty mascaras that forms "tubes" around each lash, once you put this on, it's not going anywhere. Great separation and deep black color, but unfortunately does nothing for length or volume. It's perfect, however, for defining the delicate lashes on your lower lids...probably the all-time best in this area. Also a great choice for sensitive eyes or contact lens wearers as it doesn't run, flake or smear.

Boots No 7 Longer Lashes: Compared to some of my glossy black favorites, this mascara had a grey, almost matte appearance. The dry texture kept it from smearing, but the color and finish just didn't have enough "oomph" for me.

*Chanel Inimitable: Excellent choice! I actually found this to be a decent alternative to my beloved Fatale. The rubber-bristled brush - similar to Cover Girl Lash Exact and Prescriptives Here to Stay - deposits color evenly without clumping, and builds well. I was able to achieve excellent volume with this mascara.

Clinique Brush Then Comb: I really like the idea behind this; apply with the brush, then flip to the other side to separate lashes with the comb. My only caveat is to move quickly with that comb! If the mascara dries before you get a chance to comb through, you're stuck. Nice color and definition, but it takes several coats to achieve good length or volume and at that point, you might run into problems with the comb. Just move quickly and you'll be fine!

*Clinique Lash Power: Like Blinc Kiss Me, Lash Power is a "tubular" mascara; instead of just painting your lashes, it coats each in little "tubes" (you'll know when you wash it off and see "spider legs" going down the drain). Unlike Kiss Me, however, Lash Power lets you build considerable volume and decent length. It doesn't flake or clump, and won't come off til you take it off, with warm water and a little gentle rubbing. One of my everyday HGs.

Cover Girl Lash Blast: Terrific, volume-building formula, but the gigantic fat brush and unwieldy handle put this mascara in the "not worth the trouble" pile, at least for me. From my original review: "Seriously, this thing is the Mega Bloks of mascaras. It's built like a Fisher Price toy for clumsy preschoolers trying to hone their fine motor skills."

DiorShow: Massive brush again, just like the BAD Gal! I find these brushes terribly hard to work with but I must be in minority because everyone seems to love Diorshow. It made my lashes nice and full but I had problems with clumping, as well as smearing into the corners due to the unwieldy brush. If you're a pro with that brush, more power to you. PS - it smells good!

DuWop Lash Lacquer: Good quality, buildable mascara that doesn't clump, but also doesn't add major volume. The waterproof topcoat is a plus and can be used on top of other mascaras. Overall, a good choice for everyday, work or travel.

L'Oreal Double Extend: This is one of those double-ended primer/mascara deals, and you know what that means: move quickly or experience major "crispiness." Worth it if you have time to spend perfecting the technique and avoiding clumps; otherwise, the extra step of priming lashes may be a little much on busy mornings.

L'Oreal Lash Architect: A huge disappointment compared to the other L'Oreal mascaras. Builds tons of length and volume, but clumps like none other if you're not super careful. Not worth the risk with so many other better formulas out there, even from the same brand.

L'Oreal Volume Shocking: In the primer/mascara category, Volume Shocking's sister product, Double Extend, has it beat by a mile. I occasionally had problems with the white primer showing through with this formula, or lashes taking on a strange, gray look that sullied the glossy black that I covet.

*L'Oreal Voluminous: A far better choice than the reigning drugstore queen, Great Lash. Builds great volume and makes lashes look super thick; just don't wait too long between coats, or it's clump city. Still, it's a drugstore staple, one of the best you can buy at that price.

Lancome Courbe Virtuose: Curling mascara, the efficacy of which I can't really comment on as my lashes are curly all on their own (lucky, I know). Gives a nice dramatic look with minimal clumping, and I really like the curved brush, but again, can't comment on the curling.

Lancome Definicils: A classic mascara and a favorite of many, Definicils does a great job of separating and defining lashes without clumping. It just doesn't provide enough volume for me. If you're looking for a more natural-looking mascara for everyday wear, it's a solid choice.

*Lancome Fatale: My all-time favorite. The oddly-shaped comb takes some getting used to, but once you've gotten the hang of it Fatale produces the thickest, longest, blackest lashes EVER. See original post (linked in title) for application tips.

Lancome Hypnose: Nice, buildable formula that separates lashes and makes them look long. Takes a few coats to achieve volume, and it never really makes it to that "super fat lashes" territory. Good for everyday or if you like a more natural, non-dramatic look.

Lancome L'Extreme: This is one of the "wetter" formulas, so beware of smearing. Other than that, like the other Lancome mascaras this one is super black and glossy. Does a nice job perfectly coating and separating the lashes. I didn't notice any significant lengthening at first, but when I waited just a few seconds between coats, I was able to achieve much better "build."

Lumene Intelligent: Funny brush! It's fat and rounded at the end like a Q-tip, which was fun, but didn't help when trying to maneuver around those pesky lashes in the inner corners. Other than that, this performed like a standard mascara, nice color and separation, but nothing earth-shattering in terms of length or volume. Claims to curl, but I can't comment on that one.

Lumene Star Effect: In a total departure from the other Lumene formula, this one has a very petite, skinny brush. I had major problems not with clumping or smearing, but with my lashes sticking together. Suspecting that the "Star Effect" refers to sections of your lashes ending up looking like the points of a star. If you have the patience for a lash comb, the wee brush makes this a good formula for lower lashes. But for uppers, I'm not a fan.

MAC Plush Lash: Another one with a massive brush that makes it incredibly difficult to apply without smearing mascara all over your eye! However, I'll forgive it this time. Plush Lash is different because it has a flat side that deposits the mascara really well. My tip? Forget the far-too-fat rounded side and just apply with the flat side. You'll get long, separated lashes with nice volume.

Maybelline Full 'N Soft: Exactly what the name implies, this mascara delivers nice volume without clumping or a brittle feel. Similar to Lancome Hypnose in that it doesn't really achieve a dramatic lash, but nice for everyday.

Maybelline Great Lash: Probably the most overrated mascara on the market. Does nothing to build length or volume. So many better choices out there, even in the drugstore!

MAX Factor Lash Perfection Waterproof: Love the rubber-bristled brush and the way it keeps my lashes separated. But as waterproof mascaras go, I prefer Prescriptives Here to Stay as it allowed me to build quite a bit more volume. I also wanted more definition on the ends of my lashes but couldn't achieve that with Lash Perfection. But for a waterproof formula at the drugstore, this definitely gets the job done.

Prescriptives Beyond Long: The first time I tried this I had a little bit of a smearage problem during application, but was more careful the next time around and managed to avoid it. I love the conical, Christmas tree shaped brush, as it allowed me to get into the corners without getting product everywhere. Adds nice volume and length, and separates well. However, mine is a sample size and I've heard the full size brush is different. Will check it out!

*Prescriptives Here to Stay 24-Hour: Yes, it really does last 24 hours, so it's perfect for nonstop workdays, transatlantic flights, and various all-nighters. Builds very well if you apply quickly; one coat looks natural, while after several you can achieve some real drama. Beware, though - too many coats and you might have a problem taking it off.

*Rimmel Lycra Lash Extender: Wow, I could definitely feel the effect of the Lycra in this one - my lashes stayed soft and "springy" even with several coats of this mascara. Feels totally weightless and natural, and doesn't clump. Not the best for building volume, but produces nice definition and separation even with coat after coat. A winner from the drugstore!

*Shiseido Lasting Lift: The super-thin brush looks like a factory defect, but that's just the way it is! I liked how the brush gave me more control, enabling me to "wiggle" it at the base of my lashes without smearing it all over my eye. It also provides terrific lash separation. With several coats of this I was able to achieve nicely defined lashes with minimal "crispiness" - it just takes a little time. My lashes stay curly on their own, but the consensus seems to be that Lasting Lift holds a curl really well after you've used a lash curler.

Smashbox That's a Wrap: The one product that always remains unused when I buy one of those terrific Smashbox kits. In its defense I will say that it doesn't clump and it separates lashes nicely, but when it comes to building length and volume, this mascara comes up short.

Sonia Kashuk Lashify Mascara: This one comes with a handy lash comb in the cap, and I soon realized it was there for a reason - I had major clumping problems on the very first coat! Not really worth it when you know from the outset that you're going to need the comb to fix the job.