When it comes to beauty basics, most of us would name mascara as a make-up bag staple. With the UK now the second largest beauty market in Europe after Germany (ahead of beauty-savvy France!) and with 45% of 18 to 29 year olds using it every day, this little black number isn’t going anywhere. From what the high street has to offer to high end splurges, here I review 4 mascaras to see if the results increase in line with spending.
Best for length
Maybelline’s latest mascara launch claims to offer volume and length. So far so standard. So is there anything that makes it stand apart from the rest ? Well the Total Temptation mascara is the brand’s first formula enriched with coconut to condition your lashes for a softening effect. I applied two coats which went on smoothly without clumping, with colour evenly distributed on every lash. There are 3 shades available: blackest black, brownish black and very black. I have no idea what the difference is between blackest black and very black, why you would want a not-quite-black mascara is beyond me. I went for the first option, the brown one would suit very fair beauties. The mascara is packaged in a millennial pink tube and is priced at £8.99 which is pretty standard for the high street market. Overall a very solid performance and one I’m happy to continue using.
Best for staying power
For the last 30 years Collection has built its reputation as a competitively priced make-up line well established on the high street. I wouldn’t particularly gravitate towards it for innovative products, but it’s a good option for basics like my make-up bag essential for grooming eyebrows. This very affordable mascara has a densely bristled brush which provides good lash coating but the wand can get quite heavy with product, so to avoid clumping you might want to wipe off excess formula. Other than that you get a very decent result : fuller, longer lashes, it does leave them feeling a bit brittle but stays put with very minimal smudging. Not bad at all for £2.99.
Best for volume
Another one alluding to a calorie-heavy diet, there’s a bit of a theme here… a beauty trend or am I naturally attracted to anything that hints at over-eating? Charlotte Tilbury launched her eponymous makeup brand nearly 5 years ago, quickly gaining a loyal and ever-growing fanbase. With her celebrity makeup artist credentials and the products’ beautiful packaging you can see why. But do the products live up to the hype? Full Fat Lashes promises a false lash effect with 5 benefits: curl, separation, volume, length and drama – that’s a lot to live up to. The result after two coats is lovely : the brush catches all lashes to coat them in glossy black and give a thicker fuller look, with a good lift to open up eyes. I wouldn’t necessarily use the word ‘drama’ here but my eyelashes are naturally a bit spindly so they may never attract gasps of amazement. Unfortunately throughout the day the formula on my lower lashes slid off and ended up smudged on my dark circles. Why such panda eyes ? I could try and style it out as a relaxed smoky eye, but really to make this mascara work I have to forgo coating the bottom lashes. Which is a shame as the top lashes look really good and the bottom ones feel left out. And a bit naked. Bonus points though for the vegan-friendly and gluten-free credentials, and at £23.00 it’s a reasonably priced high end option.
Best for definition
I’d never heard of Arbonne until I came across the brand’s stall at the Om Yoga show (great place to discover niche natural beauty brands by the way, regardless of your interest in yoga and meditation). Arbonne offers botanical products from the US, boasting cruelty-free and vegan formulas with a drive to reducing waste to landfill. This is another mascara that claims dramatic lashes, again a bit of an over-statement, however its promise of length does hold up. As my lashes are sparse I was expecting to dislike the result, but I was pleasantly surprised. Skinny fluttery lashes greeted me in the mirror, and I loved it. The flexible brush provides length and definition for a result that didn’t flake throughout the day – possibly due to its conditioning ingredients of amino acids, pro-vitamin B5, pea and bamboo extracts. This mascara’s name is unusual, I can’t say that I follow the logic of it – ‘life is an epic tale’, ‘tell it with your eyes’ – and I work in marketing. Long story, long lashes, long lasting? Who knows. I might not remember the name, but I won’t forget the result. Product photographed is a sample.
In a blind test I doubt that it would always be possible to tell the difference between high end and high street mascaras. A higher price point will tend to buy you innovative brushes, luxurious packaging or good quality ingredients, but if you’re just after decent performance you can find that in trusted cosmetic brands. What do you look for in a mascara? Leave a comment below to let me know.