Mascarapedia, Volume I

We’re trying all the mascaras.


For our first installment, I selected a pretty good cross-section: many of the #1 hits at Sephora and the drug store. If you’re wondering how I got my hands on all of them, here’s a secret: go to every party you’re invited to in Los Angeles. People give you mascara at parties here. I’m not kidding! Also, buy those multi-pack mascara boxes at Sephora.

Method: We chose the blackest colors available and applied each mascara following manufacturer instructions. A crimping curler was used beforehand because it’s pointless to wear mascara otherwise. No measures were taken to remove lumps or separate lashes after application; these are solely the results of the tools the mascara came with. I did, however, clean up any huge messes due to being too sleepy or too caffeinated when using the wand. I took the photos in front of my brightest window, but certain days were sunnier than others, hence the difference in tone. In terms of other makeup, I made sure to only wear foundation and eyebrow pencil at most.

Margin of error: 100%. It’s possible a tube was open a little bit unbeknownst to me before it came into my possession, or any number of other issues I can’t account for.

Control: Here is a before photo of my eyeballs:


Maybelline Great Lash: This is the basic green and pink tube that is supposedly the most popular mascara of all time. They say you can apply as many coats as you want in order to build volume but only while the mascara is wet, so you have to work quickly if you want a bunch of layers. I did two coats. It’s super slippery and wet and has a small brush, making it easy to apply. Lengthens and separates, but doesn’t add tons of volume. The best part was at the end of the day there was no flaking and I even rubbed my eyes and nothing happened. Pretty good mascara.

tarte’s lights! camera! lashes!: I hated this stuff. Super gunky and dry. Flakes off like crazy throughout the day. It is really black though.

Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Lashes: Lumpy again. The brush is shaped weird: thick at the base and pointy at the end. I don’t know about you, but I use the same hand to put mascara on both eyes and I don’t always invert the brush. For example, if the fat end of the brush coats my outer lashes on one eye and I’m feeling lazy, the fat end is going to coat the inner lashes on the other eye. In the end it just didn’t look that good, but it stayed on okay.

MAC Zoom Lash: I really loved this mascara! (It ended up being the one I’d use on in-between days when I wasn’t trying a new one.) It’s got a skinny-ish brush and it’s rather wet so it goes on smooth. Plus it’s really dark. I did start crying an hour after I put it on and it smudged a little, but then later I rubbed my eyes and only a tiny bit flaked off. I wonder what it will look like with the primer?

MAC Zoom Lash with Prep and Prime Lash: The primer ruined a perfectly acceptable mascara. What is it even for? I hated it so much I forgot to paint my bottom lashes on one eye because I just wanted to get taking this picture over with.

L’Oreal Voluminous: Ick. This was super clumpy. I’m starting to think that’s what companies mean by “volume?” Just clumpy chunks?

d.j.v. beautenizer Fiberwig LX: This is the stuff that is supposedly eyelash extensions in a tube. It’s actually great! Not a ton of volume, but dark and you can see a few of the super long “lashes” it made, like that one just above my pupil on the right — your right — that almost touches my brow. That’s kind of cool I guess, only it also makes you wonder if it will break off later in the day and get in your eye. Update: it didn’t break off. This stuff stayed on and washed off fine.

Blinc: This is the kind that says it “tubes” rather than paints your lashes, whatever that means. It was pretty easy to apply and really wet and the brush is small and has more mascara on one side than the other so you can just flip it around to put more on and then flip it back to smooth is out. It wasn’t volumizing at all though. And also late in the day I rubbed my eye and some of the tubes started falling off and irritating me. So then I washed it off and just like the packaging said, you have to rub your lashes gently to remove the “tubes.” It doesn’t smudge all around your eyes or anything when you wash it off, they really do come off looking like individual hairs. That was weird but would be good for someone who cannot deal with getting regular mascara off.

BADgal lash mascara from benefit: Okay, so I guess this looks fine enough in the picture, but I hated this one. The brush is ENORMOUS and it took me forever to get it on because I was so afraid of how much of a mess I was making. Little did I know…

Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara:… I was about to encounter the messiest mascara in the world! This is that one with the little ball brush. It takes about one million years to apply. The directions are kind of hilarious in that they tell you to intuit how to apply the mascara and that it takes practice, I shit you not. Also the name sounds like Tyra made it up. But you know what? Despite the mess that I didn’t clean up enough for an HD photo, obviously, oops, my bad, and despite how long it took to put on, and despite that this picture isn’t great, I actually really liked the look of this mascara. It’s very dark and dramatic, adds length and volume, and it stayed on nicely. It was a mess to wash off though.

Maybelline Full ‘N Soft: Hm. I was wearing this mascara for awhile because one of my Girlfriends With Beautiful Lashes wears it, but it looks way better on her. I emailed her for her process:

I do two coats… the first one that I kinda just go crazy with (so it gets all over my eyelids and face and shit), but I try and get every lash I can. Then I let that dry for 5–10 minutes (my boyfriend calls this stage “mascary”) and then I use a Q-tip, lick the end of it, and use that to clean up my mess. Sometimes this takes two Q-tips. Then I go over the tips where necessary, separate — sometimes with a pen or tweezers or whatever that’s small and pointy that I have laying around — and also try and fill in any gaps I missed the first time around. Then again, another round of Q-tip cleanup. Voila!

Voila, indeed. For me, sticking to the rules of our experiment, it turned out less dramatic. The curl didn’t really stay with this one, but it’s pretty dark and volume-y in a non-chunky way for a drug store brand. It goes on easy enough except the brush is big so it can be a little messy. (See above.) Stayed on great!

Cover Girl LashBlast Volume: This is one of those mascaras with the plastic, tubular brush hairs. It’s a tiny bit clumpy as you can see on the end there and one eye turned out way better than the other because I think if you let it dry too much it can make the second coat all dry and flaky. Seems more lengthening to me than volumizing. It flaked and smudged a little toward the end of the day.

Diorshow: Well, hm. Here it is! The amazing Diorshow! It’s kind of an anti-climactic end to this first volume. I was expecting this one to blow the others out of the water, which is why I saved it for last. It’s kinda clumpy, right? I might have been going to extraordinary lengths to fix the clumps when I used it in the past, but rules of experiments are rules of experiments so here are the raw results. Science!

Illustration by Esther Werdiger; photo help by Julian McCullough.

Have a mascara you’d like to see reviewed in “Mascarapedia: Volume II?” Leave it in the comments and we’ll do our best to get invited to the party that is handing that one out for free.