Mascara Review

I love makeup. It’s playtime, art, and fashion all at the same time. I feel undressed if I am not wearing makeup. Even when I am dressed down, I like to use a little mascara. A bit of mascara helps create a finished look and lets my eyes stand out with a frame of standout lashes.

Because I’ve been wondering how much of a difference there really is between some of my favorite brands, I decided to do a mascara review. I’ve been experimenting over the past eight weeks with a few different mascara brands – using a different one each day to make comparisons and be able to articulate what is different about them. Boy – it’s been harder than I thought it would be! You might be interested in the results of my mascara review.

So here we go.

These are the mascara brands and “styles” I compared:

  • bareMinerals “Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara
  • Maybelline Lash Sensational Volumizing Mascara
  • Lancome Hypnose Buildable Volume Mascara
  • Benefit They’re Real Lengthening Mascara
  • Lancome “Monsieur Big” BIG Volume Mascara

One thing you will notice in the images below: All brushes are not created equal. Some are slender and others are fat. One has a small brush at the tip of the wand. One is curved. In general, fatter brushes are meant to deliver more mascara product to the eyelashes and create volume, while more slender brushes are designed to lengthen. A little round brush at the tip of the mascara wand is for precise application to the tiny lashes in the corner of the eye. Brushes that have a curve are designed to follow the natural shape of the lashes.

What I’ve realized: While there are definitely differences between these mascaras that are noticeable, it takes some scrutinizing to articulate what those are.

Bare Minerals “Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara ($19.00)

bareMinerals Lash Domination Mascara

Here’s what they say:

Volume you can see. Power you can feel. The be-all, end-all, 10-in-1 volumizing, lengthening, thickening, separating, long-wearing mascara now with superior smudge resistance. Our exclusive ProTwist180™ Wand is spiraled 180 to curve around lashes and coat ALL angles with intense black color. Powered by nourishing minerals and quinoa protein complex for outrageous, super-sized volume.

Here’s what I say:

I had never tried this bareMinerals mascara before receiving a sample, and I was surprised at the unexpected results when I tried it. The color seems like a very saturated black, and it does more lengthening than I thought it would. It’s a mascara that I consider a “day wear” mascara. It doesn’t create a statement look, but it gave my eyelashes a dressed look. I wouldn’t say I agree with the company’s description of “outrageous, super-size volume.” I do like that it’s a mineral product.

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Nordstrom

Maybelline Lash Sensational Volumizing Mascara ($8.99)

Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara

Here’s what they say:

Did you know your lashes grow more than just one layer? This mascara unfolds layer upon layer of lashes for a new full-fan effect. This fresh liquid formula captures lashes from root to tip for a full-fan effect.

Exclusive fanning brush with ten layers of bristles reveals layers of lashes for a sensational full-fan effect. Ophthalmologist tested. Suitable for contact lens wearers.

Here’s what I say:

This Maybelline mascara delivers great results, especially for the budget-friendly price. It’s available in three colors: Brownish Black, Very Black, and Blackest Black. I have Blackest Black, and it does look like a very saturated and intense black. It coats my lashes well and lengthens nicely rather than creating great volume. The finish looks more silky than other brands. I like this a lot, especially for the price.

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Ulta

Lancome Hypnose Buildable Volume Mascara (27.50)

Lancome Hypnose Mascara

Here’s what they say:

Buildable Volume for Custom Lash Results Mascara. Get up to 600% more volume!

Tiny, barely-there lashes are no match for the patented POWERFULL™ brush that thickens lashes from root to tip with custom volume you can control.

The SoftSculpt ™ formula, enriched with Vitamin B5, wraps lashes one luxurious layer at a time without smearing, smudging or clumping.

Here’s what I say:

Lancome has claimed to be the most popular mascara for years, and I know LOTS of people who use and love it. I’m one of them. I like this formula for a couple of reasons:

  • The brush is slender and easy to use. I find it easy to apply the mascara in multiple coats without the brush touching my eyelid and leaving a black smudge (so frustrating when that happens!).
  • What they say is true – it doesn’t clump.
  • I can apply multiple coats to create length.

I wouldn’t put Lancome Hypnose in the volumizing category.

This mascara is perfect for both a dressed up and everyday look. It’s one I always have in my makeup collection.

Buy from Nordstrom

Buy from Ulta

Benefit They’re Real Lengthening Mascara ($24.00)

Benefit They're Real! Mascara

Here’s what they say:

Lengthens, curls, volumizes, lifts and separates. Our jet black, long-wearing formula won’t smudge or dry out. A specially designed brush reveals lashes you never knew you had!

Here’s what I say:

This Benefit mascara has been my go-to favorite for a couple of years. I think of these five mascaras that I reviewed, it’s the most versatile. It produces both length and volume. And I find it’s not too clumpy when adding a second or third coat.

The only thing that I don’t love about it is that the fat brush often ends up touching my eyelid during application. Which then means I have to try to remove the smudge without messing up my makeup. I’ve recently tried adjusting my makeup mirror so that I’m looking down as I apply the mascara. This gives a little more space between my eyelashes and eyelid and seems to result in fewer mascara brush touches with my eyelids.

I like that it comes in a full-size or small size. This is definitely still a favorite of mine.

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Ulta

Lancome “Monsieur Big” BIG Volume Mascara ($25.00)

Lancome Monsieur BIG Mascara

Here’s what they say:

A BIG volume mascara that delivers instant heart-stopping volume with up to 24 hour wear that lasts all night, and even the morning after, for your biggest, blackest, boldest lashes yet.

The BIG brush and ultra-creamy formula glides like silk onto lashes to deliver up to 12x more volume* with up to 24 hour wear. No touch-ups, flaking and smudging. Perfect for your BIG evening out AND even the morning after.
*than bare lashes alone

What else you need to know: Monsieur Big’s brush has a unique shape with soft, wavy fibers to deliver the perfect amount of formula with the very first stroke. His ultra-creamy formula has supple waxes and polymers to adhere immediately to lashes for BIG, buildable volume and length. Apply one coat and you will see why Monsieur Big is the one. Keep applying and you’ll forget all the others.

Here’s what I say:

This is a new mascara product from Lancome. It’s not yet available everywhere (I believe the release is July), but I received it as a free birthday gift when I shopped at Ulta last week.

I love that this mascara has a gender (“His ultra creamy formula…”).

This is truly a VOLUME mascara! It creates tarantula-like eyelashes. I would wear it day or night, but I would say it’s a great nighttime look. It is buildable, but I found that my lashes started to look a little clumpy after two coats. Maybe that’s why the description says, “wavy fibers to deliver the perfect amount of formula with the very first stroke.”

It’s a good one to have one hand for those times you’d like a dramatic look.

Buy from Ulta

To keep in mind:

The “hype” a cosmetic company gives to its mascara and the product description is designed to entice you to buy. I think we all understand advertising. There’s a lot of competition in the makeup industry, and product descriptions can make a mascara sound like a miracle worker. Finding your perfect mascara can get expensive if you want to try different brands to compare. A couple of tips that may help: Many companies have sample sizes and are happy to give you one, so just ask. I had sample sizes of two of the mascaras that I reviewed. Also, Benefit makes two sizes of “They’re Real” mascara. I usually buy the smaller size at a cost of only $10. Finally, almost every makeup retailer will accept a timely return of a cosmetic product if you decide you don’t like it, which gives you the opportunity to try something new with no risk.

In summary, there are hundreds of mascara brands on the market and within those brands are mascaras that focus on different effects. And, of course, each  person has her (or his) own view of what makes a great mascara. I might like a mascara that delivers on length while you might love volume. The mascaras I chose to test and compare are some of the most popular and the ones I have used over the years. It was a fun project and I recommend trying it if you’d like to delve into finding your perfect mascara.

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5 Comments

  1. Emily
    June 16, 2017 / 9:05 am

    Wow this was a great informative blog. Thank you.You did all the work. I’m going shopping now 🙂

    • June 21, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Hi Emily – This kind of review project could last a lifetime with all the mascaras out there! Happy shopping 😉

  2. Karin
    June 16, 2017 / 11:40 am

    What a wonderful and helpful post! It’s always been a hit or miss for me, but with this information, I will feel confident in purchasing any of the above! Thank you!

    • June 21, 2017 / 9:08 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Karin. Yes – I was making myself a little crazy trying a different mascara every day and examining the result to discern the difference! Happy mascara shopping!

  3. Lauren
    July 14, 2017 / 7:00 am

    The brush on the Maybelline looks huge and like it has a comb? on one side. Is it hard to use?

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