Beautiful You: My 7 Favorite Mascaras

Let’s Talk Lashes

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What’s the one makeup item you cannot live without?

I don’t mean skin care. We’re not talking makeup tools. The one straight up makeup product that would remain, even if everything else was gone?

Before we answer that question, I’m going to share, a bit. As much as I love makeup, and I do so love it, much of the time I would rather go without it. And I have a LOT of makeup. A lot of really good makeup, and still, my skin feels so much better when I just leave it bare. I apply a moisturizer with a decent SPF, and I’m off. The quick point being, don’t ever be afraid to have a naked face if you’re just not feeling the war paint that day.

Back to the question at hand.

You’re off to the deserted island, what makeup product is with you?

For me, it’s mascara.

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Now, I have decent volume in terms of eye lashes. The problem is, they’re not very long. And although I’m quite aware false lashes are not the cumbersome accessory they used to be, I reserve them for special occasions, only. Instead, I’ve become a mascara connoisseur out of necessity, trying to achieve the false lash fullness and length, without actually having to wear them.

In this post, I’m going to tell you about my favorite mascaras, the products I’ve purchased and repurchased, and I’ll reveal the one ‘holy grail’ mascara I wouldn’t be without.

Let’s go back for a minute. My fellow Gen-Xers will understand this. When I started wearing makeup in junior high school, one small bag would hold every single cosmetic I owned. For almost 30 years, I bought and used virtually the same makeup products day in and day out. If I ran out of something, I bought another one of the exact same thing. Same eye shadow, same mascara, same eye liner, same blush, well, you get the idea. If something stopped working well for me, I would find a new product, and it would take its place in the lineup.

It wasn’t until I became friends with a co-worker’s wife that I found my cosmetic freedom. Different makeup for different days, purposes, and moods. I learned ways to achieve different looks and enhance or hide features as I liked, and my makeup collection blossomed accordingly. Currently, it spans the price point gamut, high end and drug store, if it works, it doesn’t matter to me where it came from.

Shortly before this discovery, I had gone on the hunt for a new mascara. The brand I was using, Prescriptives, was going out of business, and I needed to find something new that worked for me. During my search I learned a little secret from a sales associate at a department store. It was not only possible to wear more than one mascara AT THE SAME TIME, but the technique, called wardrobing, was a great way to address all of your lash issues. You could use one mascara to plump up the volume and another to lengthen.

Whoa!

Game on!

Since that time, if I wear mascara, it’s rarely just one. So, whether it’s high end, mid-range, drug store, or a mixture, the mascara I use depends on where I’m trying to go with my makeup that day.

But enough back story, get comfy and let’s dive in!

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Too Faced Better Than Sex – This is a great all around mascara. The formula has a balanced consistency, not too dry, not too liquid-y, and is fairly substantial from the outset. It has a fluffy bristle, hourglass shaped brush that’s long enough to coat every lash and holds just the right amount of product. It takes a bit of wrangling to get to the inner lashes of the upper eyelid, but it’s not so difficult that it prevented me from repurchasing it. The product stays fresh for a very respectable amount of time, it’s about 6 months of use 5-7 days a week before it starts getting a little dry in the tube and gives a flakier application. The tube is a brushed rosy pink metallic, and provides a nice sized grip that’s easy to hold when applying.

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Too Faced is a cruelty-free cosmetic company out of California, and they have a wonderful variety of fantastic products. It’s moderately priced, and in addition to the Too Faced website, you can find this brand at department stores and cosmetic retailers (Sephora, Ulta). Better Than Sex, $23.

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Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume – A relatively new find for me, I saw a YouTube video by a beauty blogger who had nothing but great things to say about it. This is a thick mascara from the moment you open it. Like Too Faced BTS, this has a fluffy bristle, hourglass shaped brush, but the difference is, where the BTS brush is flat at the tip, this brush is tapered, making it easier to get the corner lashes near the bridge of your nose. And although you’re going to get some incredible volume from it, I always use it with another mascara that’s geared more toward lengthening. This product maintains its freshness for a decent amount of time, but I know when it starts getting super thick and clumpy at about 4.5-5 months, it’s nearing time for a new one. It has a faceted, shiny black tube that I find a bit unwieldy when trying to apply, but it’s merely a learning curve you should pick up quickly,

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American fashion designer and former creative director of luxury goods brand, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs released a line of cosmetics in August 2013 with roughly 120 products that he’s been perfecting ever since. I would call this price point more mid-range and to buy this mascara, I’ve linked to Jacobs’ website, but you can also find the line at higher end department stores and Sephora. Velvet Noir Major Volume mascara, $26.

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YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils – I simply adore this mascara! The formula is perfect, not too thin, but not thick and sticky, either. It’s also the perfect brush design, thickly bristled and tapered at the end. You get a nice even application, it’s super easy to get to the baby lashes in the inner corners, and you can pull the brush through the lashes on the outer corners and get some crazy length. It works equally well alone, or when wardrobing with other mascaras. With it, my lashes have incredible volume and fantastic length with a plush false lash feel to them. The product stays fresh for about 7 months in terms of application, and I make plans to get a new one when the product gets sticky and the brush doesn’t easily release from the tube. It comes in a lovely shiny gold tube that is the perfect size to hold when applying.

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Throwing in a quick note: I have this product in the color (5) burgundy. I bought it for a specific look that I liked (you can find the video for the look here). It turns out that I like it, in general, and I don’t think you can tell it’s not black when I’m wearing it. This is good for me because it’s not my everyday look, so the tube lasts me longer than it would if it was black.

The luxury French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent branched out into the cosmetic industry in 1978. Today, they produce some holy grail products including their wildly popular highlighter/concealer, Touche Éclat, and this mascara, which is rapidly reaching that status, as well. Here’s the not so great news, it isn’t cheap, so I always buy when I can find it on sale, or during a discount promotion at stores like Nordstrom and Sephora. You can find the YSL line at their website, which I’ve linked, higher end department stores, and Sephora. Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils, $32.

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L’Oréal Voluminous Miss Manga – My love affair with L’Oréal mascara began more years ago than I care to count. At one point in time, Voluminous was the only mascara I used. The company has since branched out and currently offers over 20 different mascaras in a variety of formulas. A friend recommended Miss Manga, and I love it. The name of this product is taken from the Western moniker for Japanese comics, manga. In these illustrations, the eyelashes are long and spiky, which is exactly the look you get with this product on its own. The consistency is a bit thin, at first, but after three or four applications, it settles in nicely. This is more of a lengthening formula, so I always wear it with some other product that gives me better volume or use a really good lash primer. The brush is conical shaped and is the easiest to use in terms of getting those tiny lashes in the inner corner. The tube is black and metallic fuchsia and the end with the wand tapers from almost overly thick, to a thin edge. It’s not as difficult to maneuver the brush as I thought it would be, the conical shape helps a great deal. It lasts a very decent amount of time, I get 6 months plus out of it. It is, by far, my preferred drug store mascara, as I always get consistent results with it.

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Affordable French brand L’Oréal was founded in 1909 and has grown into one of the largest cosmetic companies in the world. It’s likely that every woman has used one of their products at some point. You can find the brand at any drug or grocery store, Walmart, Target, and Ulta. The link I’ve included is from the L’Oréal website. Voluminous Miss Manga mascara, $8.

The next three products I’m going to talk about are all from Dior. The famed French designer, Christian Dior, launched his beauty products by releasing a lipstick in 1954, and things blossomed from there. In addition to fragrances, the brand has a well-rounded offering of cosmetics, as well as a complete skin care line. Although I’ve linked from the website after each, below, you can find Dior cosmetics at higher end department stores and Sephora.

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Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl – So here’s another confession: I really dislike eyelash curlers. I have a very popular, good curler, but I use it maybe two or three times a year, as I just don’t find them all that helpful on my lashes. Therefore, I’m always looking for a mascara that will do the same thing, and this one is the best. This particular formula is somewhat more fluid than their other mascaras, but the consistency works perfectly when you’re looking to lengthen and curl. This is one that I rarely use alone, as I have several other mascaras that are much better in the volume department. The brush is thick with bristles, and the curved shape is perfect for getting that lift you’re after. The tube is a shiny silver and a nice standard round shape that is super easy to grip when using.

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Even though it has a hefty price tag, it does last a long time, so you do feel like you get your money’s worth. With that said, it’s still a discount only product for me. Diorshow Iconic Overcurl mascara, $30.

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Dior Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer – Whew! That’s a mouthful.

I’ve been pretty fickle when it comes to lash primer. The first one I ever tried was a drug store brand, and while it was okay,  I had to use 4 or 5 coats of it before I got the desired result. It also got sticky very quickly, which I didn’t care for. I tried to use it for several months, and ended up going back to just using mascara.

Then, I got a free sample sized tube of this product when I bought another Dior mascara and decided to give primers another try. I soon made plans to buy a full sized tube as this primer does everything I hoped it would do, and then some. It has a nice, thick fiber filled formula that maintains its consistency until it runs out. It builds well and provides a great foundation for whichever mascara you use. Its spiky silicone bristles give a surprisingly even application of the product. Two coats and my lashes are long, thick and ready for mascara. The tube is white (as is the product), and is the same size as the Diorshow mascaras, making for a smooth, quick application.

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I’m still on the first tube I bought, but then I don’t use it all that often. I only buy when on sale or during discount days, as it is somewhat pricey. Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer, $30.

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Dior Diorshow Black Out – Without question, this is my holy grail mascara. If someone forced me to pick just one, this would be it. In terms of volume, there isn’t anything else that compares. Slightly thicker than Iconic Overcurl, this formula is phenomenal for creating intensely black lashes. It has a bristle packed brush that gently tapers at the end. You can work it around into the inner corner baby lashes easily and add some intense length by pulling the wand away from your face through those outer corner lashes. When I use the Maximizer 3D, the Iconic Overcurl, and this product, I’ve had people ask me if I was wearing false lashes or had lash extensions.

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Please note: I have a fantastic eyelash comb and I faithfully comb through each coat of primer/mascara from both underneath the lashes and on top of the lashes downward until they are well separated. This keeps me from getting a clumpy, sticky look.

This product lasts me a year, give or take a month. The tube is black (of course) and the same size as the other Diorshow products I’ve mentioned, so application is extremely quick and easy. In this vein, a word of caution, it IS possible to use too much of this mascara. Because it’s concentrated on adding volume, you can overdo it to the point that it looks like you’ve got black, fuzzy caterpillars on your eyelids. And all of the combing in the world won’t change that mess. You would have to remove and start over. Two coats is usually ideal for me.

Black Out is just a hair less expensive than the other Dior lash products I’ve mentioned, but not much, so I still only buy when on sale or otherwise discounted. I will say, it is worth every penny. Diorshow Black Out, $29.

 

There’s a little something for everyone, here, and different mascaras for different looks. I’ve used a lot of mascaras but these are the ones I keep coming back to. They work as I expect them to, the quality is consistent, and I feel like even if I’m paying more, they are worth it.

What’s your go-to mascara? Tell me about it in the comments.

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