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Putting your best lash forward

Mascara reviewBy guest contributor Amber Plante

Annie crooned "no one is fully dressed without a smile" – I say, don’t leave the house without your mascara!

But with a multitude of potions, brushes and variations on the market, in which should you indulge to ensure you are batting the very best?

I tested a wide range of formulas – from nourishing to thickening, colored to waterproof, lengthening to strengthening – to deliver the top picks in mascaras to indulge even the most picky preeners.

***A note: Know your lashes: Are they naturally long but lack thickness? Are they pleasantly plump but take a while to get there? Are they 3-coat wonders with a constant need for oomph? Do they naturally curl, clump or fall flat? This will help determine which will work best for you.

1-- Too Faced Lash Injection
Price: $19.50
Available online and at Sephora and other retailers

What they say:
“3D lash coating technology forms little tubes around each lash that actually plump and stretch each individual lash, building phenomenal volume and length. A fast-drying elastic polymer provides a ‘curling’ effect, which helps to lift and freezes lashes without a curler. Industrial-strength formula is waterproof won't come off until you take it off. Also includes jojoba and Vitamin E to deeply condition lashes to prevent breakage.”

What I say:
The bristly brush was the perfect applicator for this amazing mascara for lashes of all sizes. It was thick around the middle but not too long as to just make a mess. It glided on smooth with not a single clump – something not even BADgal can boast. And, the product claims are true – it kept the curl in my lashes without overpowering them and didn’t flake. My lashes looked long, thick and lovely through hours of meetings and into the night.
The waterproof feature was unexpected – I normally shy away from anything waterproof as it tends to gob on in a sticky mess. Not this brand, though – it’s easily the best waterproof mascara I’ve ever used.

Bottom line:
If you have to pick just one mascara, buy this one. Even in the small travel size, it was the best overall product in the bunch, and its array of features was a pleasant surprise – an added bonus to a fantastic product that will make you feel like model in a mascara commercial.

2-- Benefit BADgal lash and BADgal blue
Price: $19.00
Available online and at Sephora, Macy’s and other retailers

What they say:
“With a big, bad brush and a rich formula, BADgal lash mascara is like wearing a set of false eyelashes without the glue.”

What I say:
Oh, that brush! Its long, fat bristles had me swooning. Those of you with longer lashes will appreciate the separation and fullness of the formula, which works like a dream. Flaking was not an issue, and after a full day a work I looked as fresh as when I’d just applied.
With the blue formula, I had the same experience, which was magnified all the more so when I applied both – a black coast then a blue – at once. The blue acted as a brightener and really made the natural color of my eyes pop.

Bottom line:
Worth every pretty penny. The formula is thin but full, and the brush is great. Word to the wise: If your lashes are short, this might not be for you – the brush may offer more mess than its considerable value.

3-- Urban Decay Skyscraper Mascara
Price: $17
Available online and at Sephora and other retailers

What they say:
“Our lash-lengthening Skyscraper Mascara instantly turns puny lashes to pillars of strength. We worked with a famous European lab to develop the perfect combination of brush and formula. The formula feels great – your lashes stay feather-soft and the mascara stays put. No flaking, and it’s damn near waterproof.”

What I say:
The 3-level brush was intimidating but worked brilliantly without clumping. Lash definition was top notch, and there was very little clean-up after application, and my lashes felt soft instead of crunchy.
The teensiest of drawbacks is that my eyes didn’t have that tell-tale look of a great mascara – the thick black shadow of a liner on my upper lids – proof that the non-clumping feature is due to the thinness of the formula, not the formula itself.
A treat: Also in the Urban Decay line is a sweet little package of colored mascaras that keep close to the company’s roots of funky products. Stay tuned for a pictorial review of the fab colors.

Bottom line:
Very nice. From a company known more for a glam-punk-rock image dusted liberally with glitter, it is great to see a product that can be used daily, not just for swanky nights on the town. This is a great indulgence for the average user looking to upgrade from the green-and-pink brand of their youth.

4-- Wet n Wild Beauty Benefits Beyond Nourishing Mascara
Price: $5.99
Available at Walmart, Meijer, Pathmark and HEB

What they say:
“This everyday lash spa treatment nourishes, conditions and strengthens lashes with marine protein, panthenol and soy protein for fuller-looking lashes.”

What I say:
I was excited about the potential. I wear mascara everyday, and the thought of something actually helping make my little pretties even stronger was a big pull.
The multi-length brush scared me – the bristles are short, tight and plastic-y, with big potential for clumping. But, the application was smooth, save for one clustering incident on the left eye that I had to pick apart intricately by hand.
The wear was nice, but the individual lashes were not as defined as I’m used to. It takes a bit longer to dry than other brands, and the ‘cleaning up’ of the excess product got my finger coated with smudgy black.

Bottom line:
With such a small price tag, it’s hardly an indulgence. Only repeated use will show if the anti-aging and nourishing claims hold up, but it seems like a nice black mascara to me. If you are looking for a special treat, though, this probably isn’t the product you want.

5-- Sephora Atomic Volume Mascara
Price: $6
Available online and in the store

What they say:
“Sephora Brand Atomic Volume Mascara blows all other mascaras away. An innovative tubular brush applicator with a lash-lengthening comb perfectly separates lashes for a full, sexy flutter. The advanced color formula conditions lashes, keeping them pretty, healthy, and capable of causing an explosion.”

What I say:
Let’s be clear – in general, I like Sephora brand products. They are a fun alternative to the expensive brands if you want to test-drive a product or need a cheaper version. That said, this mascara was the pits. Perhaps I got a bad batch or I wasn’t doing it right, but I literally rushed to the office bathroom to wash it off my eyes after application, lest someone see me.
Application was normal, but the product coated the lashes so thickly that I looked like I had spider legs growing off my eyes. The lashes didn’t gracefully fade at the tips but stopped dead as if drawn with a black magic marker.
The only upside was that I was able to get it off quickly with just some water and a paper towel. Thank goodness.

Bottom line:
Use at your own risk. I’m reluctant to blame the company for this make-up mess-up, but if the shoes fits… If this is the one you want to use, I would suggest getting a tester or at least sneaking an in-store trial with the actual brush.

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“Putting your best lash forward”

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