Makeup basics from a makeup artist: The top 10 mascaras (both new and classic)

Guest post by Tania D. Russell

Non-pro, aspiring pro, makeup journeyman, makeup novice, etc.:
We are starting a new series of posts from Tania of Makeup To Go — a makeup artist for the entertainment industries, and friend of the Empire. These posts are all about makeup: the basics, advice, and products. I, for one, am super excited, because I know NOTHING about makeup. So think of these as “Megan simple makeup” posts for folks like, well, me.
-Megan, Offbeat Home editor

By: darwinbell – CC BY 2.0
By: darwinbellCC BY 2.0

Without. A. Doubt. the number one product I am asked about is mascara. All the folks who ask about it — laypeople and fellow makeup artists alike — seem to be on the eternal quest for the perfect mascara. It’s kind of a setup of a question, however, because I also find that mascara is 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.

Actually I don’t personally wear mascara. However, having used a lot of different products on a lot of different faces, I have some pretty concrete ideas about what I’m looking for. My criteria for The Basic 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 reapply 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.

In no particular order, here are my top 10 best mascaras:

RMS Beauty – Mascara

volumizingshopify

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 artist’s 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 restock.

2. Korres – B5 & Rice Bran Mascara

korres-pro-vitamin-b5-and-rice-bran-mascara-duo-black-d-2014040310274632-333314

Korres used to be a fully naturally derived brand as well. Unfortunately because of 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 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

Diorshow Iconic Mascara

What can be said about Diorshow that hasn’t been said already? Thirty thousand “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

Benefit-Theyre-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, 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

NewCake2015_grande

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 before 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

lights camera lashes mascara

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. This 4-in-1 mascara lengthens, curls, volumizes, and conditions for lush and dramatic lashes. I prefer this for private clients versus photographic use (I think the conditioning oils make this mascara break down a bit faster under lights). They also make an extra Volumizing formula and a waterproof formula.

7. Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara

Givenchy-Phenomen_Eyes

Okay, remember when I said I was judging these mascaras based on the formula not the wand? Well, this one really IS about the wand. 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

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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 three months are 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:

  • 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.

Alright, makeup-loving Homies, let’s keep the great advice going. What are your favorite mascaras?

Comments on Makeup basics from a makeup artist: The top 10 mascaras (both new and classic)

  1. I LOVE cover girl lash exact mascara. The regular one in the skinnier tube. I don’t know if it’s me or my application but when I’ve tried the other ones (volume, length, etc) I don’t ever notice a difference.

  2. I love Makeup Forever Smoky Lash, because it makes my lashes thick, luscious, and dramatic. I do sometimes have to comb through them with a clean wand however, to avoid them from clinging together. But that can be a look too, since it’s more sleepy-eyed than spidery.

  3. It had never occurred to me that eyelashes come in so many different varieties until I read this comments thread, but of course they do! I would love a “if your lashes are ___, you will probably like ___”-type list! My lashes are pretty long but not that thick, so I usually end up wiping off half the mascara I just put on if I want a natural-just-a-bit-better-type look. But maybe there is a product that I wouldn’t have to do that with?

  4. thank you for sharing the information, I am looking for references using good mascara, and I think I found the answer here. Nice website 🙂

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