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All About Mascaras: The Best Mascara For You

All About Mascaras: The Best Mascara For You

The Best Mascara for Your Lash Problems

Whether your goal is to lengthen, darken, volumize, define, or generally super-size your lashes, this expert advice will improve your batting average.

Time to Lash Out

All About Mascaras: The Best Mascara For You

Mascara has been a cosmetics staple since the ancient Egyptians stained their lashes with kohl about 6,000 years ago. Now a tube of Maybelline's iconic Great Lash mascara is sold about once every second somewhere in the world.

When it comes to immediate cosmetic results, mascara is hard to beat. “It’s the quickest way to frame your eyes and give them instant definition,” says Carmindy, makeup host of What Not to Wear.

Perhaps because we expect so much from a humble tube of pigment, we experience a range of frustrations with mascara to this day — clumping, flaking, and smearing. “It takes a lot of trial and error to find the best mascara for you,” says Ricky Wilson, a celebrity makeup artist for Dior. “Women sometimes forget that the lashes are their own hair and just end up buying a mascara based on a commercial or what their friend uses.”

Read on to find out how makeup artists and cosmetics chemists avoid and address mascara mishaps. Plus, learn which formulas they say are the best for you.


Does your mascara transform you into Tammy Faye Baker? To address clumping, Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist and vice president of research and innovation at Englewood Lab, in New Jersey, recommends blotting the brush on a clean tissue to remove excess pigment that can be deposited in clumps.
Also, check the product label. “Mascaras with a high wax content will smear easier and can be prone to more clumping than mascaras with more gums,” Wilson says. Waxes commonly found in mascara include paraffin, carnauba, and beeswax. Gums might be gum tragacanth and methyl cellulose.

The mascara brush matters just as much if you have trouble with lumpy lashes. Celebrity makeup artist Kristofer Buckle prefers “a silicone brush that glides through lashes while perfectly separating them.” He also recommends avoiding brushes that feature a wide spiral formation. “This allows an uncontrolled amount of product to be coated onto lashes, leaving them clumpy.”

CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion ($8.99) delivers a separated-lash effect by means of a silicone brush and a slick formula.


Just as a little pain is the price we pay for wearing high heels in the pursuit of mile-long legs, flaking is often the unpleasant consequence of the quest for longer lashes. The polymers used to make mascara waterproof and to elongate lashes tend to flake, says Ni’Kita Wilson. “They are necessary, and it's difficult to avoid them in lengthening and waterproof formulas,” she says.
The solution is all about application technique. Wilson says the key is to apply just one or two coats. Also, allow each coat to dry completely if you apply more than one. If you’re not seeing the results you want with two coats, consider switching to a cream formula for more volume and fullness, says Sarah Lucero, a makeup artist with Stila.

For a flake-free option, try Nuance Salma Hayek Full Effect Ultra-Volumizing Mascara ($9.79).


Pandas and raccoons are pretty much the only creatures that look cute with black rings around their eyes. Humans, not so much. Smearing of mascara is usually more of a problem in warmer weather, when heat and humidity break down your makeup. Ni’Kita Wilson suggests wearing a waterproof formula when it's warm, but one that contains polymers rather than waxes. “Polymers form a film around lashes that is more likely than waxes to seal the pigments in place,” she says.
You can also prevent mascara runoff with some carefully placed translucent powder, Buckle suggests. He advises patting powder around your eyes — to cut down on oil and moisture — before applying mascara.

To avoid mascara smear, try Neutrogena Healthy Volume Waterproof Mascara ($7.99).


Ni’Kita Wilson maintains that length is where the brush is every bit as important as the formula. “You want to make sure that you're using a brush that allows you to get to the base of your lashes without gouging your eyes,” she says. “Women with really short lashes may want to opt for a thinner brush or a comb-style brush.
Combing through your lashes can also help prevent a short, stubby effect, says Brett Freedman, a makeup artist and the founder of Vanitymark. A ‘wetter formula will spread a bit more easily, but it can also fuse lashes together. Freedman suggests using a lash comb to separate and define lashes while the mascara is still wet.

Benefit They’re Real! Mascara ($22) will grab lashes and coat them all the way to the tips for length and definition.

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