We tried it: 10 mascaras in 10 days

Confession: I have next to no lashes. Transforming my little hairs into dramatically fluttery fringes—the kind that open up your eyes and have people asking you if they’re fake—can feel like an impossible quest. So, when The Memo asked me to roadtest 10 different mascara formulas it seemed fortuitous, with my wand wielding test drive extending from high-energy workouts to high-glam cocktails.

Day one: Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara

With its sleek packaging and super thin brush that ensures precise application, this wand is the supermodel of mascaras. It’s a tubing formula that amplifies lashes without clumping, and it fitted easily in my smallest clutch during an evening out. It gives me lashes worthy of Cindy Crawford, which is fitting given Aucoin and the supe were inseparable in the 90s. At the end of the night there were no panda eyes and it was easy to remove. No wonder it’s a bestseller: my friend even asked what mascara I was wearing.

Day two: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

The name is quite the saucy claim, but this wand has a fervent fan base. The curved brush was apparently informed by the bust-waist-hip ratio of a blonde bombshell from the silver screen, while the collagen-fuelled formula delivers va-va-voom results. One coat gives my lashes a carbon black colour and bouncy curl that lasts from sunup to sundown. It also survives frequent spritzing without running or flaking, and didn’t leave any marks when I changed out of clothes.

Day three: Urban Decay Perversion Mascara

This mascara has a dramatically jet-black payoff – and there’s nothing perverse about that. The brush initially feels a little large and round on first application but I’m thrilled with the inky results. There is no clumping and I’m able to layer individual lashes for buildable coverage. I love that I can apply two coats for more volume if required. Removal is quick and easy. I found I could dial down the rest of my makeup and still look glam to go, with only a BB and a slick of gloss required.

Day four: Chantecaille Faux Cils

If you want “your lashes but better” this is the mascara for you. My husband, who is a no-makeup kind of guy, even commented I looked different—in a good way. Much like the packaging, it’s understated but delivers the requisite je ne sais quoi. Also, who knew mascara could smell so good? The rosewater-based formula is a bowl of blooms in a tube, and it felt like it was conditioning my fringes at the same time.

Day five: Bare Minerals Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara

I love Bare Minerals for its mineral makeup, so I wasn’t expecting a techno-themed state-of-the-art wand. The silver tube looks very sci-fi, and the wand spirals 180 degrees to coat each lash from every angle. I achieve lift-off in just one application. The nourishing formula is great for those with sensitive eyes, and I recommended it to a co-worker who says she can’t usually wear mascara for exactly that reason.

Day six: Mecca Max Eye Max Power Couple Mascara

This double-ended mascara delivers twice the fun. Use the teeny micro-wand for the first coat, which separates and lengthens lashes, then follow with the fat brush to pump up the volume and extend and curl lashes. The gilt packaging is so classy I would happily leave this on my work desk or on the bathroom sink. I also experimented with using each of the wands separately, the small one for day time and the fat brush for party night.

Day seven: Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara

This is another extremely chic gold tube that you would enthusiastically pull out in public, and of course I did at a café. I haughtily order a long black to mirror my spectacular lashes. The secret is its buildable formula and unique double-sided brush. The dense side gives sky-high volume, while the short side coats your bottom lashes; I appreciate being able to reach the small hairs in the corner of my eyes. It’s a keeper—and eye-catching in both ways to boot.

Day eight: Better Than Sex Voluptuous Volume Waterproof Mascara

I trial this one back at home one morning before strolling to Bondi Beach. Appropriately enough, it comes in an aqua coloured tube and is satisfyingly weighty and waterproof. The brush is very thick, as is the application, but for me every little bit helps. It survives the surf and a shower afterwards with impressive staying power, and is surprisingly easy to remove.

Day nine: Nars Climax Mascara

Another day, another mascara with a provocative name – seems to go with the territory. The ribbed, fire-engine red packaging adds to the erotic appeal, but I feel almost indecent unfurling it in view of other people. But in terms of use it really delivers: thicker than most formulas and easy to layer if you leave each coat to dry for a few seconds before reapplying. I actually felt like I was wearing falsies, but the hassle free DIY version.

Day ten: Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara

At a more affordable price point than some of the other mascaras, this one offers excellent value for money. It’s formulated with a blend of soft waxes, so it doesn’t dry hard or crunchy, and makes my small eyes look wider and larger with just one coat. Two more coats take them from day to night with an effect that is almost like false lashes. It takes slightly more effort to remove, but the results are worth it. This time I decided to up my makeup for the ultimate full-look effect, and it definitely put me in the mood for getting the party started.

Words by Georgina Safe
May 2019


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