The Great Beauty Experiment: The Great Mascara Showdown


Maybe you’re like me, and you stand in the aisles at the drug store when it’s time to replace your trusty old tube of mascara pondering deeply the many options available to you, while wondering wistfully what it might be like to try them ALL, just to see which is best.

Maybe you’ve wondered if expensive mascaras are really any better than their drug store counterparts.

Maybe you’ve secretly wished a hero would come into your life! A hero like me! Who was ready and willing to do all the heroically dirty work for you!

Well. Your wish is my command.

After the jump, I tested 10 (ten!) of the most popular, most expensive, and most ridiculous mascaras available on the market today, to find out which is best. And oh boy, do I have some answers.

Come with me if you want to live.

  • Bare Minerals Buxom 1 of 43
    Bare Minerals Buxom
    Presented in alphabetical order, our first mascara is by Bare Minerals. Bare Minerals! A brand I'd always associated with the all-natural look. Major volume from the all-natural mineral company? I had my doubts...
    Get it from Bare Escentuals, $19
  • Bare Minerals: Buxom 2 of 43
    Bare Minerals: Buxom
    The packaging on this one is really cute. The tube is fat and curvy. Buxom, I guess!
  • Bare Minerals: Buxom 3 of 43
    Bare Minerals: Buxom
    Would you check out this wand? I will tell you, this wand had me intimidated, and it wasn't a terribly natural feel when applying it at first. I probably overthought it the first few times I applied it. Now that I've used this mascara more than a handful of times I'm starting to get the hang of it. And let me tell you. IT IS MAGIC.
  • Bare Minerals: Buxom 4 of 43
    Bare Minerals: Buxom
    The mascara has great layering power. It doesn't clump too quickly, and it gives enough girth to each lash that it feels like a significant volumizer, not just a lengthener. I felt probably the most satisfied with this mascara, above all the others. I've sort of fallen in love with it.
  • Bare Minerals: Buxom 5 of 43
    Bare Minerals: Buxom
    The formula wears really well throughout the day, and doesn't flake or smudge. And the best part--it washes off quickly and easily, no raccoon eyes!
  • Benefit: They’re Real 6 of 43
    Benefit: They're Real
    Benefit: They're Real was the brand I was most recommended by friends. I mean, what a catchy little title, and falsies in a tube are kind of exactly what I'm hoping to find here. So, how did it do?
    Get it from Benefit Cosmetics, $23
  • Benefit: They’re Real 7 of 43
    Benefit: They're Real
    Well... the tube is cute. I like the silver color. I mean, sometimes a well-designed tube really helps the experience, you know?
  • Benefit: They’re Real 8 of 43
    Benefit: They're Real
    Okay but here's the deal. Spider lashes. This formula made my lashes so incredibly long, but also kind of disjointed and with sometimes a little clump at the end... And the plumpness just wasn't there.
  • Benefit: They’re Real 9 of 43
    Benefit: They're Real
    And although I didn't pick up the waterproof formula (I swear!), I had a heck of a time getting this one off. Major raccoon eyes. So, Benefit... not my favorite.
  • Cover Girl: Lash Blast 10 of 43
    Cover Girl: Lash Blast
    Long before I started this experiment, I always swore by the Lash Blast. Always and forever! Actually, I liked to layer the Length formula under the Volume formula, two layers. Hey, it works! But it's a lot of work, and the two together cost as much as a department store brand. So, how does the Lash Blast hold up on its own, without it's lengthening friend?
    Get it from Covergirl Cosmetics, $7
  • Cover Girl: Lash Blast 11 of 43
    Cover Girl: Lash Blast
    One thing I've always enjoyed but not understood is why this sucker needs to come packaged with its applicator separate. Why is that, Cover Girl? That little orange lid is kind of the perfect size for a kid to choke on. But it IS like a mascara hat and I can't hate on that.
  • Cover Girl: Lash Blast 12 of 43
    Cover Girl: Lash Blast
    That orange comb is sure fun! This is one of the few mascaras I tested that had this comb-like applicator. The comb is fun, because you feel like you're painting. You're able to get much more product on each lash with each swipe, and it helps create bulk quickly. It does scratch a little when you're close to your eye lid, which is either fun or not, depending on how you feel about things.
  • Cover Girl: Lash Blast 13 of 43
    Cover Girl: Lash Blast
    I wasn't terribly in love with the Lash Blast this time around, which surprised me! Especially after trying all those big-budget mascaras that work so well. This one just didn't live up to my own hype for it. For the price point it is excellent, and if it's bulking you need, this one will get the job done. But it's not perfect.
  • Cover Girl: Lash Blast 14 of 43
    Cover Girl: Lash Blast
    Not too long, not too thick. A great, decent, middle-of-the-road mascara at a decent, middle-of-the-road price point. The best part of this mascara is it's buildability. I swear I could put on fifteen coats and not get a single clump.
  • Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look 15 of 43
    Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look
    My sister has long sworn by the Dior Show, so I was really excited to finally try it. Also it was sort of the most expensive of the bunch, if I remember correctly...
    Get it from Sephora, $25
  • Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look 16 of 43
    Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look
    So, first a disclaimer: When I was at the Dior counter selecting the mascara, the Sephora salesgirl told me I needed the New Look formula. She swore by it. So, I suppose this isn't a completely fair assessment of the Dior Show, since this is a new formulation of it, and not the one my sister always used. Anyway. Carry on!
  • Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look 17 of 43
    Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look
    The Dior Show wand is a combination comb/brush. Interesting! The tip is more sparse, like a comb, while the back is a little more bushy. It's also the smallest applicator I used. And I did NOT like it. Right off the bat I was disappointed with it. I couldn't maneuver the wand the way I wanted to, and it felt like I wasn't getting much of the lashes in each swipe, so I had to layer and layer and layer. And this one doesn't layer particularly well. Part of me wonders if I just practiced? Could I get a better handle on it?
  • Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look 18 of 43
    Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look
    The Dior Show was by far the biggest disappointment of the bunch. All the hype and for what? Every drug store brand I tried performed just as well. I actually frowned when I was finished putting this one on.
  • Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look 19 of 43
    Christian Dior: Dior Show New Look
    Also I had a lot of smudging during the day. Come on, Christian!
  • Guerlain: De Guerlain 2 20 of 43
    Guerlain: De Guerlain 2
    Oh gosh this one cracked me up. This was the first mascara I tried of the bunch, and boy was it a different experience! First of all, it's an enormous box it comes in. Huge The biggest of them all.
  • Guerlain: De Guerlain 2 21 of 43
    Guerlain: De Guerlain 2
    Secondly, the wand sort of reminds me of something Harry Potter would use to cast a spell. Wingardium Lashiosa! That sort of thing. So. It's a two-parter, this mascara. The first part is your mascara, and the second part is a lacquer. A LACQUER, PEOPLE.
  • Guerlain: De Guerlain 2 22 of 43
    Guerlain: De Guerlain 2
    The actual mascara brush is really, really thick. Using it felt like rubbing marshmallows on my lashes. It worked well enough but not GREAT or anything. And then comes the lacquer. The lacquer is really something else. It's basically paint. It creates kind of a shellacked, luminous glow on your lashes. So it's not that your lashes are enormous so to speak, but more like your lashes are, like, glinting in the sun.
  • Guerlain: De Guerlain 2 23 of 43
    Guerlain: De Guerlain 2
    This was sold to me as being the craziest of the crazy mascaras by the salesgirl at the Sephora, but for me it just didn't do the trick. I can out-crazy all you crazies! While my lashes got LONG, they also got kind of stabby looking, and they left dots of mascara and lacquer along my brow bone throughout the day. So, in the end, I can't recommend it too highly.
  • L’Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber 24 of 43
    L'Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber
    Now here we go with some more drugstore brands, holla! Represent! All that.
    Get it from Target, $7.94
  • L’Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber 25 of 43
    L'Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber
    I was excited to try this because a false lash look is precisely what I'm aiming for. And this wand is nutsy. It's like a geometry pop quiz up in there. So many angles! I was totally not sure what I was supposed to be doing with it, but in the end it didn't really matter.
  • L’Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber 26 of 43
    L'Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber
    This one performed surprisingly well! It layered well and produced a really great combination of length and girth, and it's CHEAP!
  • L’Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber 27 of 43
    L'Oreal: Voluminous False Fiber
    It wore really well throughout the day too, no real smudges or flaking or obnoxious raccooning. It washed off easily and the gold tube is pretty. Two thumbs up, L'Oreal!
  • Maybelline: The Falsies 28 of 43
    Maybelline: The Falsies
    Oh Maybelline. Maybelline's Great Lash is, of course, the most common and strangely the most highly-touted of the basic drugstore brands--gotta love that pink and green!--and so I sort of expected a lot from this formula (in fact, as you'll see, I bought TWO Maybelline formulas, I was so convinced of their greatness). And then what did I actually think? Well...
    Get it from Amazon, $7.77
  • Maybelline: The Falsies 29 of 43
    Maybelline: The Falsies
    First let's discuss this. Do you see this? It says nowhere on this package that this is waterproof, and yet this one DID NOT come off. No dice! I had to finally use vaseline to get it off, and hey, have I told you yet about how vaseline is THE BEST for getting stubborn eye make up off?
  • Maybelline: The Falsies 30 of 43
    Maybelline: The Falsies
    No, this wand isn't actually pink like in the promotional image. What gives? But it's really fat though, and I'm starting to develop an affinity for fat brushes. Also this one has a little bendy joint to it right there. See it? Bouncy! Does this actually help things? Somehow?
  • Maybelline: The Falsies 31 of 43
    Maybelline: The Falsies
    I liked this one, I really did. Fat brush yes, it turns out. I like applying mascara with a caterpillar!
  • Maybelline: The Falsies 32 of 43
    Maybelline: The Falsies
    And since it was borderline waterproof formula, it wore exceptionally well, until I tried to take it off, of course, and suddenly looked like some kind of Japanese horror movie dead girl. But, all told, this one is worth every penny. Not a miracle worker, but a solid worker who'll get the job done nonetheless.
  • Maybelline: XXL Extensions 33 of 43
    Maybelline: XXL Extensions
    Another Maybelline, and another two-part system! These are FUN.
    Get it from Amazon, $6.80
  • Maybelline: XXL Extensions 34 of 43
    Maybelline: XXL Extensions
    So the way this works is first you apply a white glue like substance to your lashes, to plump and lengthen what God gave you, and then you follow up with the actual mascara. It's kind of fun to put on, actually. Like a paint by number or something equally thrilling.
  • Maybelline: XXL Extensions 35 of 43
    Maybelline: XXL Extensions
    But for all that, this one fell short. Nothing terribly special, just an extra step for no apparent reason. See those lashes? They're like, whatever. I'm here. Don't expect too much of me though.
  • Maybelline: XXL Extensions 36 of 43
    Maybelline: XXL Extensions
    I did notice intermittent flaking during the day, so this isn't one I'll be buying ever again. Too much work, too little payback.
  • Rimmel: ScandalEyes 37 of 43
    Rimmel: ScandalEyes
    Rimmel! Rimmel is a funny brand. When I spotted this one at the drug store I got a little excited. I always figure Rimmel is going to really bring it, on account of the Kate Moss. You know what I mean?
    Get it from Ulta, $6.99
  • Rimmel: ScandalEyes 38 of 43
    Rimmel: ScandalEyes
    And I am all about the plump. Bring it on!
  • Rimmel: ScandalEyes 39 of 43
    Rimmel: ScandalEyes
    Of the drug store brands, this one only very barely didn't come in last. (I'd put the XXL Extensions last). Only just because I was so convinced it'd be the most amazing, and then it only turned out to be just fine. Just fine, NO scandal. None.
  • Rimmel: ScandalEyes 40 of 43
    Rimmel: ScandalEyes
    But, I will say, it did make my lashes uniformly thick and that's something no other mascara I tried managed to do.
  • Too Faced: Better Than False Lashes 41 of 43
    Too Faced: Better Than False Lashes
    Ohhhh I am excited to tell you about this one! This one is a THREE PART MASCARA. Three parts! Can you even contain yourself here?
    Get it from Sephora, $35
  • Too Faced: Better Than False Lashes 42 of 43
    Too Faced: Better Than False Lashes
    First you put on the mascara. Then, while it's still wet, you put on these crazy white fibers. No. Literal, actual, fluffy, flaky loose little fibers. You open the tube and try not to inhale them, and sort of brush them on while doing your best not to move. At all. It's like the nuttiest, craziest little science experiment. Then you quickly and CAREFULLY apply MORE mascara. Aaaaand then you're done. Three parts. I was so delighted by this. It was extreme fun in my bathroom that morning.
  • Too Faced: Better Than False Lashes 43 of 43
    Too Faced: Better Than False Lashes
    Every time I went somewhere sort of fancy I wanted to use this mascara again, just because it was SUCH an event! And while the performance was up there among the best, there was a lot of smudging going on with this one. Maybe avoid this formula on rainy, or overly humid days.

And now… the Cliffs Notes Version:

Best Department Store Brand: Bare Minerals Buxom

Best Drugstore Brand: L’Oreal Voluminus False Fibers (Honorable Mention: Maybelline The Falsies)

Least Worth Your Dollar: Dior Show New Look


Article Posted 4 years Ago

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