Mascara 101 Best Formula Help Guide – Have I tried a lot of mascaras? (Literally, hundreds) These are just some in my current arsenal. Why so many? As a makeup artist, I always use a fresh, sterile mascara for each client with disposable applicators. I keep many different types and brands stocked for various needs and situations (bridal, film, stage, water shoots, etc.) I’m always trying out new brands to see what performs the best. Because I only use them once, I end up with lots of them for review purposes.
What makes a good mascara?
- Ease of application
- A formula that provides length and/or volume (depending upon your needs)
- No clumps
- No flakes
- No smudging
- No running
- No irritation
That doesn’t seem like too much to expect, right? Why can’t they all do that?
Before you begin shopping for mascara, you need to know exactly what type of eyelashes you have.
- Length – Are your lashes short, medium or long?
- Thickness – Are your lashes thin or thick?
- Density – Do you have sparse lashes or a lot of lashes?
- Straight or Curly – Do your lashes have natural curl to them or do they stick straight out?
- Suppleness – Do your lashes tend to get dry, brittle or break?
- Delicate – Do a lot of them fall out when you rub your eyes?
Examine Your Hair:
If you are having trouble answering the above questions, typically your eyelashes will mimic your hair. If the hair on your head is curly and thick, you probably have thicker lashes. If your hair is fine and thin, your eyelashes are probably on the thinner side, too. Regarding the length of your eyelashes, this trait does not correspond to any particular quality of your hair. If your hair is very dry, chances are your eyelashes are, too and you may experience dryness or brittleness in your lashes.
Additional Concerns and Questions:
- Do you wear contacts?
- Do you have allergies and other sensitivities?
- Do your eyes tend to water a lot?
- Do you have oily skin? (Yes, your skin type will affect what type of mascara will work best for you.)
- Are your eyes so deep set that your eyelashes touch your upper eyelids? (If so, a smudge-free formula is very important.)
Once you have answered all of the above questions, then you can begin to determine what type of mascara will perform the best for you.
Mascaras come in the following types of formulas:
- Water based – These mascaras will run if you cry or your eyes water. These have a light density. They are easily removed with any normal facial cleanser and do not require a separate eye makeup remover. They are the gentlest to your lashes. If you have a lot of chemical sensitivities, these formulas may be the best for you.
- Water resistant – These mascaras, although water based, also contain ingredients that prevent the mascara from running if your eyes tear. These have a medium density. Some of them are easily removed with regular facial cleanser and some require an eye makeup remover. These are good for deep set eyes and are good for people with dry, brittle lashes.
- Waterproof – These mascaras are oil based, will not run when exposed to tears or water, but many are not smudge proof. These will have a medium or thick density depending upon the formula. These must be removed with a dedicated eye makeup remover. These stay on the longest and the best, but because they are oil based, they may actually smudge worse on users with very oily eyelids. Think about this… What do you use to remove waterproof makeup? Oil-based cleansers. If your eyelids are extremely oily, your body is producing its own remover. Those with oily skin will have to experiment the most to find a brand that works for them. Waterproof mascaras can also have a drying effect on the eyelashes over time so they may not be good for those with brittle lashes.
Mascaras also have different objectives:
- Some are designed to enhance a natural look.
- Some will volumize or add thickness to sparse or thin lashes.
- Some will add length.
- Some have wands that claim to curl the lashes (They don’t work very well.)
- Some have added fibers (These are not good for contact lens wearers.)
Mascaras have different types of applicators (wands):
- Wands with straight brushes (These make it difficult to get into the corners.)
- Wands with tapered brushes (These work the best.)
- Wands with curved brushes (Most of them are too big.)
- Wands with plastic bristles (These work okay if they are small.)
- Wands with tiny combs (These are good for separating upper lashes but don’t work very well on lower lashes.)
- Wands that vibrate (These are a silly gimmick.)
- Wands that rotate (These can be very dangerous.)
- Wands with adjustable brushes (These usually break after a few uses.)
- Wands that are tiny just for the lower lashes (Some of these are very good.)
Most of the applicator brushes that come with mascaras are too large. The smaller the brush, the greater the level of control. Also, many of the brands with curved wands are way too large and the curve is wrong for the average-sized eye. Mascaras with battery-operated rotating or vibrating wands are a marketing gimmick and I’d prefer to wiggle my own wand. Also, there have been reports of people getting their eyelashes caught in the rotating ones and pulling them out. Ouch!
Everyone just wants long, full, dramatic eyelashes. So which formula do you need?
- If you have enough lashes but they are short, look for a lengthening mascara.
- If your lashes are a good length but you don’t have enough of them, look for a volumizing mascara. A separate eyelash primer will also add to the thickness.
- If you have so few eyelashes that you can barely find them, look for a fiber-filled mascara. Using a separate eyelash primer will also greatly enhance your lashes.
- If you are blessed with long, thick eyelashes, a simple water-based formula or even a clear gel mascara will add definition. (If this is you, please know that the rest of the world is envious.)
Tips and Tricks for Successful Mascara Application:
- Always begin with clean lashes. If you apply today’s mascara on top of yesterday’s leftovers, you are starting out with an invitation to clumping and flaking.
- Always scrape some of the mascara back into the tube before applying. When you first pull the wand out of the tube there will be too much product on the wand.
- If you need more product on the wand, don’t pump the wand in and out as this will infuse air into the tube, which will cause the mascara to dry out faster. Instead, twirl the wand while fully inserted to get more mascara on the wand.
- If your mascara came with a separate outer cap, replace the cap while the wand is out of the tube and it will last longer. (Don’t throw away those outer caps the first time you place the wand into the tube.) Air is the enemy of a tube of mascara.
- Begin by coating the top of your upper eyelashes first with your mascara or primer. Let the first coat work from the top down.
- Always move the wand in a wiggling side-to-side fashion from the lash roots to the tips rather than one sweeping motion.
- Twirling the wand while applying to the upper lashes will help to keep the lashes separated.
- If you are using a mascara primer, make sure to wait 30-60 seconds for it to dry, then apply your mascara on top of the primer. This will keep it from looking diluted or gray as opposed to black.
- Use a separate clean mascara wand to separate your lashes in between coats. If you try to use the applicator brush that is already coated in mascara, you’ll end up with way too much product on them which leads to very clumpy lashes.
- Mascara needs to thoroughly dry in between coats to avoid clumping and flaking. When applying multiple coats of mascara, avoid putting several coats on one eye at a time. Instead, switch from one eye to the next before applying a second coat in order to let your lashes dry between coats.
- Don’t apply more than 2 coats. More than that will lead to clumping and flaking.
- Don’t ever share your mascara or you are inviting an eye infection.
- Don’t add water to your mascara if it is too thick. (If you add water to a waterproof mascara, it will just bead up, not blend and that tube will need to be trashed.)
- If it gets too thick, it is time for a new tube.
I will be adding a list of the best brands for each type of formula.
I hope you found this Mascara 101 Best Formula Help Guide assisted you in determining what type of mascara will perform the best for you. Please let us know your favorite mascaras and why. We’d love to hear from you!