12 Mascara Showdown: Which mascara is best?

I have naturally oily lids, deep-set eyes, and stubby little eyelashes. Looking for the perfect mascara has been a challenge. Some of the criteria I’m looking for includes the following:

  • Does not flake
  • Does not clump
  • Lengthens and separates
  • Does not transfer to the top of my eyelid
  • Does not burn my sensitive eyes (Sometimes, when I cry or my eyes water, my eye makeup will make my eyes feel like they’re burning. It’s super fun, and the only solution I’ve found is to take off all my makeup and try a different formula.)

I’ve never been a mascara loyalist, just trying whatever is sent to me in my Boxycharm or that I pick up at the drugstore. So, to start with my mascara review, I picked up two Sephora Lashtastic to Go sets, which come with sample sizes of five mascaras and a coupon for a full sized mascara of your choice. In addition, I have a couple mascaras that came as part of tiny little sample packs.

Along the way, I found I had a few other specifications. I prefer length over volume. I prefer mascaras that curl. I also prefer a mascara wand that feels natural. Very spikey, hard rough mascara wands tug on my eyelashes in an uncomfortable way.

The mascaras

Sephora Lashtastic to Go ($28, free full size)
– 0.17 oz/ 5 mL Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara in Black
– 0.20 oz/ 6 mL BUXOM® BUXOM® Lash Mascara in Blackest Black
– 0.135 oz/ 4 mL Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara in Excessive Black
– 0.13 oz/ 4 mL Tarte Lights, camera, lashes™ 4 in 1 mascara in Black
– 0.1 oz/ 3 mL Urban Decay Perversion Mascara in Black

Sephora Lashtastic to Go ($28, free full size)
– 1 oz/ 3 g Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara
– 0.07 oz/ 2.07 mL Lancôme Définicils High Definition Mascara
– 0.17 oz/ 5 g Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara
– 0.08 oz/ 2.5 mL Tarte Tarteist™ lash paint mascara
– 0.13 oz/ 3.9 g Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Misc. Mascara Samples:

Benefit Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara – 100 points for deluxe sample size at Sephora
Travel-size Tarte Maneater Voluptuous Mascara in Black – from $22 Maneater Makeover Lash & Lip Set

My opinions

Set 1

Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara
The bristles of the mascara brush were half pushed down at the end of it, just mired in mascara gunk. I pulled it out several times and tried to clear it so I could use it. However, I wasn’t able to really make it usable. You can see in the photo how thickly gunky the tip of the wand still is after my ministrations. This design flaw may speak poorly to Bobbi Brown mascara in general, or it may be a one-off. The formula itself seemed to work well and did not transfer. However, it was fairly clumpy.

BUXOM Lash Mascara
I really love the shape of this mascara wand, but I did not love this mascara. It didn’t have the volume or length of the Lancome or Tarte options. This transferred to the skin around my eyes rather quickly, and my eyes burned quite badly whenever I used this. There must be some ingredient in it that I’m sensitive to.

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara
I’m obsessed with this mascara, as you can tell from the disappeared label. The mascara wand is great, with a little twist that does a phenomenal job of curling my lashes. The curl stays all day. It layers well. It does have volume as well as lengthening properties, but I have not had a problem with it being clumpy.

Tarte Lights, camera, lashes 4 in 1 Mascara
So I’m low-key in love with the actual mascara tube with its weird texture. This mascara did the best job of any at not transferring to my browbone. There was some transfer, as there was with all. But it was minimal. I like the slight wave to the wand, but it’s not my favorite. This mascara built up well, and I would recommend it.

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara
This works really well. My eyelashes looked dramatic. It’s truly gorgeous. I did think it smeared rather quickly, so despite the beautiful look, it didn’t have the longevity I prefer. I’m curious about the full size, because the sample size tube is so small that you really have to shove the wand into it. I wonder if that differs in the full size and if that matters to the quality of mascara application.

Winner: I’ll end up getting the full-size of the Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara from this set.

Set 2

Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara
The “They’re Real!” concept must be that this mascara is so lame people won’t think you’re wearing mascara. I’m not a fan of the synthetic bristles. But the way they’re spaced out means that this does not clump, and it does give a very natural “I’m not even wearing mascara” look. Unfortunately, slightly longer, slightly darker lashes aren’t my aim. This does keep an incredibly natural look. But it’s not for me.

Lancôme Définicils High Definition Mascara
This is a really nice, subtle formula. It reminds me a bit of the Benefit They’re Real Mascara in terms of the length and the fact that it didn’t clump at all. I prefer the more natural feel of the bristles on this wand over the more prickly ones on the Benefit one though.

Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara
I didn’t realize the “velvet” referred to the way the mascara feels going on. Not kidding, this is buttery feeling on your lashes is amazing. I really love the shape of the wand, and I felt this gave great lift/curl. I genuinely enjoyed applying and wearing this mascara.

Tarte Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara
My problem with this mascara is primarily the wand. It’s very thin and spikey. It pulls at my eyelashes in a very uncomfortable way during application. The full application doesn’t look natural to me. The mascara transferred to my brow bone after 6 hours or so, which isn’t too bad. Of the brands I tried this time, Tarte seems to have the best mascaras in terms of not transferring. I dream of a day I find a mascara that doesn’t transfer at all.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
This is a gorgeous mascara. It did transfer to my upper eye lid/brow rapidly. My eyes were somewhat sensitive to it, but that was only on some days, not every day I wore it. Still, it’s best not to tempt fate when I wore other mascaras multiple times without problem.

Winner: Despite everyone’s love of the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, I think I’ll be going with the Jacobs. I love the way the formula feels, and I’ve heard the drug store dupe for the Too Faced is almost better than the original.

Misc. Samples

Benefit Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara
I want to love this one. It does a great lengthening and separating job. However, it transfers quickly to my brow bone, leaving unattractive black smudges. It also was not compatible with my sensitive eyes. I also appear to have lost it in the last couple months I’ve been doing this test, so it won’t be pictured. At least I didn’t lose one of my favorites!

Tarte Maneater Voluptuous Mascara
This one wins for lengthening without getting clumpy. It hands down was better than any of these others at lengthening. The packaging was cute too. I really like this mascara. However, it transfers to my brow bone nearly immediately. Partially because it’s so incredibly lengthening. I still kept wanting to use it because of the length, but I won’t be repurchasing due to aforementioned transfering.

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