Choosing The Best Mascara

Your Guide To The Top Picks

mascara pictureThe best mascara for you may be different than the best mascara for me...but luckily, the cosmetics industry has become very high tech in their research and development... No, there are no micro chips in the wand, but the end products are very innovative and as a result, we have a lot of options. We kind now find the very best choice to suit our individual needs.

The options are staggering. The amount of catering to our individual differences and desires, simply amazing. So how do you pick the best mascara for you? Here are some general guidelines that apply to the new array of mascaras available. Plus, a few tips, tricks and extra 'F.Y.I..' to help you find the mascara that suits you best.

Straight to the top...
Lancome DEFINICILS Black Mascara , continues to hold top spot as best mascara pick. This mascara is award winning year after year and well proven (including me). Among the multiple awards won is the respected Allure Magazine Reader's Choice Award and In-Style Magazine's Best Beauty Buy for Overall Mascara (read more details below).

Guidelines For Picking The Best Mascara (For You):

There are two main elements to consider when picking mascara;

  • what type of lashes are you working with?
  • what is the desired result?

Mascara companies generally market their products based on desired results i.e." lengthening", "volumizing", "curling", "bold", "dramatic", "natural looking" , "waterproof" lashes, etc. , sometimes a combination of several. Their mascara formulations in combination with the type of wand being used, is what determines the results.

Another factor to consider when picking a mascara is it's price.

As you have likely noticed, their are some pretty hefty price points out there. Luckily, those hefty price points aren't generally connected to the best mascara choices. Listed with each type of mascara below, are two product suggestions. This gives you the option of a well priced prestige brand or a mid-range quality brand.

I. Lengthening Mascara

Lengthening mascaras focus on formulations that are less dense, with ingredients for easy glide and smooth even coverage that will reach the very tips ( mascara application that effectively builds on the very tips is key to lengthening eyelashes ). To assist with this, the wands tend to have bristles that are shorter and in more tightly packed groups, to ensure that every lash gets well coated in mascara, from base to tip.

Works Well For...

best mascara tip

Best Mascara Performance Tip:


Avoid uneven application and clumping, by first removing the excess mascara formula on the tube opening, or dab on a tissue.

*Also make sure your lashes are clean, residue free and *curled.

*I highly recommend using an eyelash curler because of the dramatic eye opening difference it makes (always use before mascara and do it gently).


I find that this type of mascara is great for those with reasonably thick eyelashes, short or long, because the emphasis is on lengthening and maximizing each lash. I personally have found, you avoid clumpy looking mascara by choosing this type of formulation and wand.

The best mascara for this job?

Prestige Brand: Lancome DEFINICILS Black Mascara , as mentioned above, is a well supported choice with its top pick status by beauty editors and professional makeup artists. One of the reasons is, its ability to really lengthen and separate lashes, defining beautifully (hence the name) without clumping. It also long wearing, fragrance free, suitable for contact lens wearers and Ophthalmologist-tested.

Mid-Range Quality Brand: L'oreal Lash Out is a product that I have used and love how it lengthens and defines without clumping.  Its "teddy bear" brush allows a high precision application (not easy to find at that price point) and it is easily removed with out a lot of wear and tear on the eye area. The trade off on this product is its formulation dries out at around two months and can sometimes be hard to find.

II. "Volumizing" Mascara

Volume building mascaras build thickness to the lashes creating a stronger visual presence. With that in mind, the formulations have building ingredients like polymers and waxes that will help build on the lashes, as they are coated. The wands for this task tend to have longer, fine, evenly spaced bristles for maximum quantity and even coats.

best mascara tip

Best Mascara Performance Tip:


Holding the wand horizontally, begin at the underside base, jiggling the wand at the root to grip as many lashes as possible, and move up through to the tips.


Works Well For...

This mascara is great for small, sparse, fine and fair lashes as it is designed to build presence with color, thickness and lengthening.

The best mascara for this job?

Prestige Brand: Lancome Hypnose Black Mascara is another award winning product with a patented "powerful" brush that will thicken your lashes up to 6X, defining lashes without clumping. Lancome is considered one of the best mascara makers.

Mid-Range Quality Brand: L'Oreal Double Extend Lash Extender Magnifier Mascara, Blackest Black icon is another Allure Magazine award winner and gets great customer reviews. It works in two steps beginning with a primer and then followed by a color coat, to achieve both longer and thicker lashes.

III. Curling Mascara

There a number of mascaras out there offering curl. Curling the eyelashes gives a wide-eyed look, creating larger looking, dramatic eyes. The formulation is thicker because of ingredients for hold and shape, like polymers. The wand will have bristles tightly spaced to help in the upward curl motion.

Works Well For...

best mascara tip

Best Mascara Performance Tip:


Carefully separate lashes with a clean lash brush or comb to remove clumps.


If you have difficulty using eye lash curlers, this is a great option. Also, if you found the mascara brushes awkward in the past the curve shape in this type of brush, may be more feature friendly to your eye shape.

The best mascara for this job?

Prestige Brand: Lancome COURBE VIRTUOSE Black mascara lengthens and curves lashes, with a CurlGuard(TM) which holds a divine lash curve for 12 hours.

Mid-Range Quality Brand: A very inexpensive option that is made by a quality company is L'oreal Panoramic Curl Mascara.

IV. Bold And Dramatic Mascara

Choosing the best bold and dramatic mascaras are really about the resulting style desired. Formulations like this will offer it all; volume, length, intense color etc.. and use names that will help indicate they are glamorous and bold.

Works Well For...

best mascara tip

Best Mascara Performance Tip:


Wait for top lashes to dry before bottom lash application, to avoid speckling the upper lid with mascara.


Individuals who desire a bold makeup style and don't mind the look and feel of heavier mascara. The nature of your own lashes will help direct you in your product choice. Additional products, like false eye lashes, and other lash enhancers will help very sparse, small eye lashes achieve a bold look. If you have reasonably full lashes, start with this type of mascara, and take it a step at a time.

The best mascara for this job?

Prestige Brand: Well there are a number of great products out there that are clearly going for this outgoing makeup style. They range in formats, from application methods i.e. tube, cake etc to shimmering color selections. The best mascara in this category is a little harder to pick since, the delivery does not need to be subtle.

Christian Dior "DiorShow" Mascara delivers a "just off the catwalk" makeup style with this rich mascara that apparently delivers sexy volume and length, without clumps, in just one coat.

Mid-Range Quality Brand: Smashbox Bionic Mascara.

V. Natural Looking Mascara

Natural Looking Mascara is the counter point to Dramatic Effects Mascara. The end style desired is enhanced, thicker, longer lashes that still look and feel soft, light and natural. Formulations need to have qualities that allow for high definition, length and volume without getting clumpy.

Works Well For...

best mascara tip

Best Mascara Performance Tip:


For bottom lashes, hold wand vertically, moving back and forth for precise controlled application. Allow lashes to dry, comb through and remove any flakes with a sweep of a powder brush.

*If mascara on your lower lashes is too much for you, try using a clear mascara for definition (its great for unruly eyebrows too).


Individuals who first of all like a more natural, less detectable look, and/or have sensitive eyes.

The best mascara for the job?

Prestige Brand: Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara is a mascara that comes recommended for its formulation that delivers luxurious, long and lush, natural looking lashes at a great price point.

Mid-Range Quality Brand: Neutrogena Weightless Volume Wax Free Mascara, Brown Black has excellent customer reviews, has a patent pending, wax free long wearing formulation that doesn't clump, flake or smudge. It is also Ophthalmologist tested , Hypoallergenic and safe for contact lens wearers and sensitive eyes. Sounds great!

VI. Waterproof Mascara

Waterproof mascaras are usually offered with every formulation style. The above options all come in a waterproof version. The difference is, the waterproof formulations used have ingredients that are no long water soluble, and require an oil based makeup remover to dissolve the makeup.

Works Well For...

best mascara tip

Best Mascara Performance Tip:


Waterproof mascara is not recommended for *daily use.

*Even the best mascara waterproof formulations, because of their staying power, can be drying to the lashes and create considerable wear and tear to the eye area, in their removal. For those reasons I recommend use for special events, not daily.

Events and activities that will involve water i.e... swimming, sweating, crying....

Best mascara for the job?

If use is infrequent, you don't need to purchase a pricey product. I recommend this pro favorite Maybelline Great Lash - Waterproof Mascara, Very Black . It also wins every year as the best waterproof mascara choice at In Style Magazine. The pluses to this product... a great inexpensive price and when fresh, this stuff glides on smoothly and evenly. A minus? This stuff gets old very fast.

Last words on the choosing the best mascara...

After reviewing the suggestions above, choosing the best mascara for you, should have become a far more simple task. Likely, the remaining issue is related to to price. With that in mind, sometimes with saving on what you spend, you compromise on performance.

Another way of boosting the performance of any mascara is by using a primer on your lashes first.... This primer or 'Super-Enhancing Mascara Base' is one of half a dozen great options available and is called Lancome CILS BOOSTER XL.
"Give your lashes an XL boost. This innovative mascara base maximizes the result of any LancĂ´me mascara. Features micro-fibers for enhanced effect; triangular brush helps separate lashes."

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#2- OUTSTANDING MASCARA : Tried, tested and true...AND STILL MY FAVORITE! Lancome DEFINICILS - High Definition Mascara Deep Black. (*Also in a waterproof formulation for warm weather events)., Inc.

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