What's the one makeup product women can't seem to live without? Surveys show that it is mascara. I tend to agree because a little mascara can make a huge difference. It only takes 2 minutes to apply and can really open and highlight your eyes more naturally than eyeliner or eyeshadow can.
But the market is so saturated with mascara products these days. How do you narrow down your options? First, I like to start by focusing on paraben and sulfate-free products (like the product recommendations below). In general, try to look for smudge-proof formulas. Save water-proof formulas for the beach because they often peel or clump easily. Many mascara formulas are similar, so it's really all about the brush. Different brushes serve different functions. Most women with normal lashes are looking to boost lash definition. Fine toothed comb brushes like the Juice Beauty Lash Defining Mascara ($19 at Ulta) can help sweep lashes upwards, while depositing clump-free color onto lashes that won't transfer to skin or stick lashes together. Volumized lashes can offer a slightly more dramatic look. I absolutely love the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! ($19 at Sephora), and it is definitely a fan favorite. It is "clinically proven to increase the appearance of lash volume by 424%," and the natural formula is very gentle on lashes. Overall, I like the mascara's light, soft feel and natural look.
For those of you with sensitive eyes...try Almay's mascaras, which are hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist recommended for contact lens wearers. I especially like the Almay One Coat Triple Effect Mascara ($8 in drugstores). Almay is an affordable and effective brand with products for people with sensitive skin and eyes, and their mascara is no exception. They make specific lengthening, thickening, volumizing, etc. mascaras, but the One Coat Triple Effect is a very general mascara product. It builds, extends, and sculpts lashes in one simple sweep.
For those of you who prefer waterproof products...try the bareMinerals Flawless Definition Waterproof Mascara ($18 at Ulta). The formula is waterproof, but it is not as sticky or flaky as many other waterproof products, while the fine bristles help brush lashes upwards and allow you to easily reach all of your lashes. With beautiful shades like Ripe Plum and Espresso, you had definitely a color that goes with any look.
For those of you with sparse lashes...try a thickening formula like the Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara ($33 on dermstore.com). The large brush adds a lot of color with each sweep (you only need 2 coats) while separating lashes. Like all Jane Iredale products, this mascara is good for your lashes too. A good tar-free mascara is hard to find, but this is one of them. Also, it contains seaweed to condition and fortify lashes.
For those of you with short lashes...try a lengthening formula like the Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara ($8 at Ulta). I didn't think that the fatter brush on this mascara was going to work well for lengthening, but it's actually really nice! Since my eyelashes are pretty short, this is usually my go-to mascara. The formula glides on really smoothly, and the brush makes for a neat and full application. This product comes in multiple shades, but my personal fave is the Black Shimmer. The "shimmer" is very subtle, but really adds a sparkle to the eyes.
And don't forget about your lower lashes to complete the look. Since they're smaller, they can be harder to reach. If coating the lower lashes is tough for you, invest in the Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara ($10 at Sephora). The short brush is designed for reaching all of those lower lashes, and the formula removes easily when exposed to warm water.
Make sure you curl your lashes BEFORE you put on your mascara. Curling them with mascara on can make your lashes brittle and cause them to stick to the curler. My personal favorite curlers are the Shiseido Eyelash Curler ($18 at Sephora) and the Laura Mercier Eyelash Curler ($16 at department stores), which has a cushy pad that prevents pinching and unique compact shape for travel. Also, heating your curler with a blow dryer helps your curler curl (just be careful not to burn yourself because the metal will get hot). You can even buy heated curlers like the Sephora Heated Eyelash Curler ($17 at Sephora). If you have lashes like mine that don't curl very easily, you can use a brush with a curved wand like the Buxom Sculpted Lash Mascara ($19 at Sephora) in addition to curling your lashes. As the name implies, the S-shaped wand will help sculpt and shape lashes more effectively than a straight brush. Many drugstore brands make a product with a curved wand, but I like the Buxom one because of the ultra fine brush bristles and the vitamin-rich formula.
Another way to improve your mascara wear is by applying a primer first. This will hold the mascara onto your lashes for a longer period of time and prevent smudging, flaking, and fading. Like your hair, your lashes can get brittle after being coated with mascara day after day. Primers can also protect your lashes from mascara. The Tarte MultiplEYE Clinically Proven Natural Lash Enhancing Primer ($22 at Sephora) is a natural option that nourishes and conditions lashes with HydroPlant peptide to help them naturally appear longer and fuller.
The nice thing about mascara is that there are many great options for wallet-friendly prices. So, picking up your favorite mascara from the nearest drugstore can be a guilt-free treat. After all, there's nothing more elegant than luscious lashes!
What is your favorite mascara?