If you hadn’t noticed, my Monday posts tend to be geared towards the makeup “every user”. Non-pro, aspiring pro, makeup journeyman, makeup novice, etc. Mondays are where Makeup to Go just talks product. Without. A. Doubt. the number one product I am asked about is mascara. All the folks who ask about it – laypersons and fellow makeup artists alike – seem to be on the eternal quest for the perfect mascara. It’s kind of a set-up of a question, however, because I also find mascara to be an intensely personal choice. So what I might look for in a mascara someone else may hate, and my “holy grail” mascaras might end up in someone else’s trash bin.

All I can do is offer my advice as someone who – because of my work as a makeup artist – has tried a lot of different mascara on a lot of different eyes.

That’s the thing, and that’s what my reviews are generally based upon. Just trying product on myself does nothing to let anyone know what a given product will do for them. And actually I don’t ever wear mascara. Having used a lot of different products on a lot of different faces, however, I have some pretty concrete ideas about what I’m looking for. My criteria for The Basics Mascara are…

1. Volume
Length can be created with just about any modern mascara with the right technique, but what I really like to add to all lashes I work with is Volume. Therefore, I tend to like thicker mascara formulations.

2. Definition
I like to pick up every single lash, this adds to the illusion of increased volume and gives lashes that “flirty” look I like.

3. Non-Clumpy
Spider eyes – off the runway – are unattractive. I do not want the lashes sticking to one another.

4. Long-Lasting
Needless to say having to do a re-apply is a non-starter. Adding more if you want more is one thing, but the initial application should be able to go the distance.

5. Finish
Like any healthy hair, lashes have a natural sheen to them. I prefer mascaras that do not dry too matte and cake-y.

Criteria established, here are some of my top mascara picks both new and classic. OH and another thing: I base my assessment on the formulation, not the brush. As we discussed last week, I cut off the wand and use disposables anyway.

In no particular order…

1. RMS Beauty – Mascara
This naturally derived, Eco-certified brand constantly delivers. If you’ve been disappointed by the performance of natural mascaras before, look no further than RMS. Rose Marie Swift is a makeup artist and her line performs like a makeup artists’ line. The Mascara is available in either a Defining or a Volumizing formula. While I like both, I tend to gravitate to the Volumizing whenever it’s time for a re-stock.

2. Korres – B5 & Rice Bran Mascara
Korres used to be a fully naturally derived brand as well, unfortunately via corporate buy-outs that’s no longer the case. In fact I hear they may no longer be cruelty-free which is unfortunate. Back when these things were not an issue I used to use their B5 & Rice Bran Mascara regularly. They describe it as lengthening and defining but I found it gave nice volume as well. I used to describe it as my “natural Great Lash”.

3. Dior – Diorshow
What can be said about Diorshow that hasn’t been said already? 30K “Loves” and counting on the Sephora website tells the tale. This mascara creates thick, juicy, velvety lashes even when you do not use their legendary wand (just use a fat disposable wand for similar effect).

4. Benefit – They’re Real Mascara
As the name implies, this mascara is supposed give the illusion that you’re wearing falsies. It doesn’t look like you’re wearing false eyelashes, lol, but it does a very nice job of building up lashes, particularly those on the – shall we say – more puny side. This formula is lengthening, volumizing, and curling all in one. I have heard, however, people say it caused their lashes to dry out and break off so they must be using some powerful stuff in the formulation. I’d either save this one for special occasions or use a lash conditioner regularly (Vitamin E or Jojoba oil works wonders to condition the lash line).

5. Besame – 1932 Cake Mascara
Every now and then I encounter a client who says that any mascara they use just slips off almost immediately. For folks who find this to be the case, I recommend going to a cake mascara. All mascaras used to come in cake form pre mascara tubes. The formulation is drier by nature (to use, you just activate with water) and less prone to slippage. Besame Cosmetics is a relatively new brand with a vintage feel and I’m digging their cake mascara. The colors (available in Black and Brown) are rich, the formulation is smooth, you can apply as many layers as you dare to get the depth and fullness you desire, and once applied it lasted all day. I recently used it on a photo shoot and it was fabtastic.

6. Tarte – Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
Anyone who reads Makeup to Go with any regularity knows I love Tarte cosmetics, so let’s just get this out of the way: I’m totally biased. Over the years they’ve had a number of mascaras and they’ve all been excellent in my opinion. What’s nice is Tarte has “greened” their line and become a largely naturally derived brand yet the performance has remained the same. The 4-in-1 lengthens, curls, volumizes and conditions for lush and dramatic lashes. I prefer this for private clients vs for photographic use (I think the conditioning oils make this mascara break down a bit faster under lights). This is an excellent mascara. They also make an extra Volumizing formula and a waterproof formula.

7. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara
Ok, remember when I said I was judging these mascaras based on the formula not the wand? Well this one really IS about the wand although fortunately you can find disposable wands with the unique ball shape. I know some folks who disdain the ball but it is the secret to picking up every. single. lash. I mean EVERY lash, even those teeny tiny ones in the inner corner. If you prefer to use a traditional wand you’ll still be happy with the result. The formula itself is creamy, smooth, and non-flaking and leaves you with well-defined, long and lush lashes with a nice sheen.

8. Maybelline – Great Lash
The legend and with good reason. Thick, gloopy and crazy pliable, with the change of a wand type I can create any kind of lash I want. For me Great Lash is the “winner and still champion” of all mascaras. And at $6-$8 a tube, it isn’t painful to throw it out and get a new one when 3 months time is up.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: I have a couple of items I think are worth a mention even though one I do not use often and one is new to me:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Top Coat was a game-changer for me. I do not care for waterproof mascaras nor do I tend to need to use them often. With this handy-dandy top coat I can make any mascara I wish to use waterproof. Lash Genius, indeed!

Buxom Custom Mascara Bar. I do not have any insight as to how well it works, but it’s a pretty cool idea. Basically you purchase Buxom’s Vanity Lash mascara and then based on the desired lash (volume, length, definition, etc.) you choose the perfect brush to accomplish the look. I used the Vanity Lash mascara on a private client this past weekend (it was her own mascara) and I did like the way it amplified her lashes which are rather short. So if you’re a fan of Buxom, or if you’re trying to find what brush works best for you, this is worth trying.

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