Over the course of a few weeks, I took it upon myself to test an array of mascaras to find the best ones! I have a few that I always use as my go to, but I wanted to see if there were any others out there that I liked more. The two I regularly use each have 1 thing I don't love about them, which inspired this madness. Mascara can be pretty pricey, and I think it is in the top 3 most important makeup products (following behind foundation and an Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pencil for me!).
Mascara is personal and the best choice will depend on what you're looking for. If you want volume, look for ingredients with silicone polymers and microcrystalline cellulose. If you want long wear, look for products with a solvent such as isododecane or isohexadecane as the first few ingredients. If you want to be flake-free, look for water as a main ingredient. Some mascaras are hydrating and make lashes stronger and these generally have panthenol. A trick I recently learned was to put castor oil (and or a mixture of it with vitamin E and aloe vera) into an empty and clean mascara tube and put on a few swipes before bed!
I chose 11 mascaras ranging from my favorites, a few I wanted to try and the ever so delightful Sephora Favorites Lashstash Mascara Wardrobe Box! Around the holidays, Sephora usually puts out gift box sets for various brands or products, so I picked up the Mascara Favorites one for around $40 to try 8 mascaras and receive the included eyeliner, lash curler and fibers (I hated the fibers btw). Every mascara was black and I did not use any primers, curlers or fibers with any of them.
What I concluded is that my 2-3 favorites were still indeed my favorites at the end of this. Along the way I did find a few others that I thought were good second string choices though. I included my findings from top left to right and a ranking at the end!
Benefit RollerLash Curling Mascara: $24
This mascara is designed for curling and lifting, which is something I love and makes a huge difference. The brush is curved to create a 12-hour hold and the formula has lash conditioning ingredients. It is award winning and a fan favorite. My thoughts were that I definitely do like it and it does work - I think I expected a little more curl based on all the hype, but overall it was a good product and clump-free. I love that it has lash conditioning ingredients because that is my issue with the Benefit They're Real mascara, which was another one tested. This is my favorite second string pick.
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: $23 *WINNER*
This has a collagen-fueled formula for extreme lashes and it is my regular favorite! It creates huge, bold lashes that are perfect for a night out. I have never used a product that made my lashes look better. The brush is a unique shape and I am not sure how it works so well, but I like it a lot. My ONLY complaint about this mascara and what made me start this adventure is that it smudges on me. It claims to be smudge-proof but I find it slides down under my eyes because I have oily skin. There is a waterproof version that may solve this, but I am not a big fan of waterproof mascara unless I am actually going in the water.
STILA Huge Extreme Lash Mascara: $23
If I didn't know what I was using, I would've probably guessed this was Too Faced Better Than Sex. It is a very similar look and created long, thick lashes that looked like falsies. It even has a similar brush. I tried this because a sales associate suggested it when my store was out of Too Faced - she was right about them being so similar. I also received a sample of it in a Birchbox after purchasing it. This is an excellent dupe for the original, but the price is the same so I don't find any advantages of switching over. I like every product I have ever tried from both brands but have been loyal to Too Faced longer - this is now my backup though!
NARS Audaclous Mascara: $26
I was really disappointed in this one and it turned out to be one of my last choices. I was surprised because there are a lot of NARS products I like, but I absolutely hated this brush. It is spiny to hook onto lashes to create volume, but it felt itchy and tickled my lash-line in the most unpleasant way. It did create nice length with separation and no clumps, so I liked the formula but will never buy because of the brush.
Too Faced LashGASM Mascara: $21
I tried this because of my love for Better Than Sex and it did not disappoint. I liked this one as it has a more firm and flexible brush for good separation. It was not as dramatic as its predecessor, but it would work for a more casual daytime look. I'm not sure if I purchased one that had been around for awhile or if it was the formula, but it seemed like it was a little dry.
Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara: $32
This was another one I liked as a second string pick - only for daytime. It has a non-drying formula and a nylon fiber brush. It claims to give extreme lashes but I think it gives just the right amount for a day look. It lengthens and separates nicely and the more layers I put on, the more I liked it. I don't think it's worth the $9 price increase for less dramatic lashes, but it was a really good option for people who may like a more natural look.
blinc Mascara: $26
This one was my absolute least favorite of all. It was a smaller size tube than most the others and it was water-resistant and hard to take off. I didn't like the brush, formula or anything about it.
Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant Mascara: $24
Surprisingly, this was in my bottom choices as well. It was pretty clumpy on me and had more volume than length - I like both in my mascara. The tapered brush made it easy to reach inside lashes, but I was messy with it due to its design. I am hit or miss with this brand as a whole and this one was a definite miss.
BUXOM Lash Mascara: $20
This was another favorite for second string products. I liked it for a softer, natural daytime look. It goes on in thin coats and gives a slight curl. There was length but not much volume. Luckily my lashes are pretty think, but if your lashes are naturally thin this may not be the best. Its brush was good for separation and it did not run at all so this is my go to for days of running around.
Benefit They're Real Lengthening Mascara: $24
I love this one and it is my other usual go to next to Better Than Sex. This creates long length with good volume as well. Its brush is ideal for separation and it's a fan favorite and has won many awards. The one flaw it has is that it flakes and doesn't seem to have the most nourishing formula. A swipe of castor oil first may help resolve this issue (I literally just thought of that while typing so I haven't tested it yet!). This is still one of my all-time favorites after testing all of these new options.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara: $26
This one I don't have anything negative to say about it and liked it all around. It had good length, I liked the brush and it wasn't clumpy. All around it was a good product. On the flip side, I don't have anything overwhelmingly positive either. I liked it - I didn't fall in love with it. I would use it but I won't buy it.
All in all my old faithfuls pulled through in this mascara competition! I ranked them in order for a summary below and hope this helps with these tough life decisions!
1. TIED: Too Faced Better Than Sex / Benefit They're Real
2. Stila Huge Extreme Lash
3. TIED: Benefit Roller Lash / Too Faced LashGASM
4. TIED: Buxom Lash / YSL / Marc Jacobs
5. Make Up For Ever
6. NARS Audaclous