Once upon a time (OK, it was the early 90’s), there was a girl – let’s call her V – who would sneak into her mum’s bedroom, delve into her make-up bag and fish out a mascara. And not just any mascara. It was the iconic and frankly brilliant Lancôme Definicils, (still available today, £24.50). With just a swish of the brush, V swore her face was transformed – her lashes thicker and fuller, her eyes instantly wider and her whole face more alive, sparkly and less tired. From the first swish, she was hooked. And she’s never looked back. Apart from a handful of hideous, sleep-deprived days (courtesy of her newborn babies) when she forgot to apply it, and the odd bout of conjunctivitis, when she couldn’t (definitely grounds for locking yourself indoors until it’s cleared up), she’s never been without her trusty mascara wand.
Fast forward a few years, and that mascara devotee, V, met M – another make-up lover, with enviably long lashes. V isn’t a jealous person, but when she clocked M’s spidery lashes, she wasn’t sure a friendship could last. “Oh, they’re quite long in the first place”, M casually commented when V probed as to which mascara she was wearing. V slinked off, seething…
Lash envy aside, it turns out M & V got on very well. And since launching VeryMakeupMad, they’ve been happily researching mascaras together (V’s discovered that the odd dig in M’s ribs makes her feel a whole lot better!), to bring you the best choices on the market. V has moved on from her Lancôme days (as has her mum, P, who now swears by Guerlain’s much-lauded Cils d’Enfer, £25.50, and won’t wear anything else) and is now a Dior girl. Diorshow Extase, £25, ticks every box for her. It instantly gives lashes a boost, and only one, quick coat is needed to separate them and make them appear fuller and longer.
M, on the other hand, has long been a fan of BeneFit They’re Real, £20.50, (one is sold every 15 seconds in the UK!) but the love affair may be coming to an end. And it’s not because she doesn’t like how it makes her lashes look – she does! – but because she struggles to take it off at the end of the day. And there’s nothing worse – for your delicate eye-area or frustration levels! – than rubbing away at your eye make up. Benefit sells a specific remover for it – BeneFit They’re Real Remover, £15.50 – but M’s never got along with it. So she’s been trying a couple of other mascara options and her two favourites are: Clarins Be Long Mascara, £21.50, which for anyone requiring extra length – no, not M, but she’s very impressed with the brush – really does the trick; and Eyeko Black Magic Mascara, £19, which gives long, dramatic lashes and a curl that holds for hours. Eyeko mascaras use clever ‘tubing technology’ to coat the individual lashes in miniscule tubes and bind to them. This causes minimal irritation, as they don’t flake or rub away.
On a recent trip to one of their favourite haunts, Space NK, M & V discovered that the beauty store’s best-selling mascara (it’s topped their charts for many years running) is Chantecaille Faux Cils, £36. V thought she’d try it out. To be honest, she’s a little underwhelmed. On the plus side, it smells lovely (it contains rosewater) and it treats and conditions the lashes, so her phobia of touching mascara’d lashes (yes, really!) is not an issue. However, it takes a good few coats to make a difference and the effects are a little too subtle for her.
A final mascara we’ve road-tested is Too Faced Better Than Sex, £19. We can’t promise it lives up to its name (we’ll leave that to you to decide), but it’s gained something of a cult following, thanks to its hourglass shaped brush and the fact that it volumises and thickens the lashes. It gives a very intense black colour and dramatic finish. Definitely one to try for a night out.
Top Tip: When applying mascara, start with the brush at the very roots of the lashes, and gently wiggle it from side to side as you pull it along the lashes. Start in the middle, then move onto the corners. Once you’ve done the ‘wiggle’, use the brush to push lashes back and up.
Move Over False Lashes! Here are some more great mascara options:
Best For Watering Eyes: Lots of you have been in touch to say that you suffer from watering eyes, and no matter what you do, you end up with grey circles underneath them after wearing mascara for a while. Try one of these mascaras to avoid ‘Panda Eyes’: L’Oreal Paris Double Extension Mascara Waterproof, £11.99, a double-ended wand with a conditioning base coat and a lengthening mascara that also separates lashes; Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara, £22 which does exactly what it says on the tin and won’t move all day long; YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Waterproof Mascara, £25.50, gives incredible volume and hold.
Best Newcomers: We’re very excited by these two finds: NYX Doll Eye Mascara Volumising, £8. This gives an amazing, long-lashed finish and stays put for hours on end. And you can’t argue with the price!; Fairy Drops Scandal Queen Quattro Mascara, £18.50, created by a Japanese celebrity, this mascara won’t smudge, budge, flake or smear and gives lashes a great curl. We love the hot pink packaging and the funky brush.
Best Curling Mascara: For anyone with poker-straight lashes who’s keen for some curl, try Sisley So Curl Mascara, £32.50. And if you’re a fan of eyelash curlers, there are plenty on the market, but being girly girls, we’re loving this rose gold version, Life Changing Lashes, £18, by Charlotte Tilbury.
Best Base Coat: A mascara base coat (or primer) dramatically improves the performance of your mascara – allowing it to go on more easily – and also helps to create thicker, longer looking lashes. Clinique Lash Building Primer, £14.50, is hard to beat.
Best For Bottom Lashes: If you like to apply mascara to the bottom lashes, you need Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara, £14.50, which boasts the cutest little brush we’ve ever seen!
Best Coloured Mascara: Go bold with a pop of flattering colour on your lashes. Here are some great ones to try: For green eyes choose violet. We love Chanel Inimitable Intense in purple, £26; For hazel eyes go for green, such as NYX Professional Makeup Color Mascara in Mint Julep, £6. Blue eyes look great with a deep burgundy, such as YSL Mascara The Shock in Rough Burgundy, £19.55. If you’ve got brown eyes, try a bright blue, like ByTerry Mascara Terrybly in Terryfic Blue, £33.50. Or play it safe with navy blue, which tends to suit all eye colours. We love YSL Luxurious Mascara for a False Lash Effect in Deep Night, £21.68.
Best Eye Makeup Removers: Garnier Skin Naturals Fresh Eye Make-up Remover, £3.39 is a really great budget option. Or if you prefer a bi-phase remover (the double-layer liquid type that needs to be shaken and works well on waterproof formulations) try Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover, £20, or The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Make-up Remover, £10. We also like facial cleansing wipes for mascara removal and think L’Oréal Fine Flowers Cleansing Wipes – a snip at £1.99 – are great. They’re a speedy way to remove the day’s make-up and let you get on with your beauty sleep. Another one-stop make-up remover that we’ve been testing is Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water, just £1 at the moment (yes, you read that right!), although we’ve found it to be a little hit & miss – it removed some mascaras better than others.
M’s lifelong miracle potion (inspired by her hippie mum, A, who travelled to India in 1969 and has been drowning herself in the stuff ever since!) is Cold Pressed Organic Coconut Oil, £5. She rubs it into her lashes every night to condition them and prevent any hair loss. It’s an amazing multi-tasker…try it on dry skin, cuticles, split ends. You name it, it treats it! And if you’re concerned about sparse lashes (and brows) or the loss of them, consider applying Foxbrim 100% Pure Castor Oil, £13.56, which is proven to promote hair growth.
If you’re wondering when’s the right time to throw out your mascara, we’d say after approximately 3-4 months, by which time it will likely be drying up anyway, if you’re using it daily. We’re not big advocates of sticking to make-up shelf lives (we each currently use products that we’ve owned for years…ssshhhh!), but when it comes to mascara (and eyeliner), don’t keep using them for too long as they can harbour bacteria and cause infection.
Remember you can email us – firstname.lastname@example.org – with details of your favourite mascaras and also if you have any beauty queries. And follow us on Instagram, twitter and Facebook https://youtu.be/M9Ux1GRb4yU
Love & fluttering lashes,
Mala (left) wearing NYX Doll Eye and Vikki (right) wearing Fairy Drops Scandal Queen.