Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The 50/50 Lash Guide

Finding the right mascara is something many struggle with because, like so many products, it's subjective. When people ask me what I use, or what mascara I like, I hesitate to tell them... which then leads me to say, "well, what I use may not be right for you, so tell me about your lashes and we'll go from there." This is the point in a conversation where I'm met with a blank stare. I can see it in their face, "Tell you about my lashes?!?!? You look at them and tell me what I need!" but here's the problem: maybe they're already wearing mascara so it's hard to tell what they need, or I'm about to recommend a mascara that they've used and hated.

50% of a mascara is the brush and the other 50% is the formula. That's why it's important to see/try the brush and read the label. Here are some tips for finding the perfect mascara for yourself:

1. Know your lashes
This one can be tricky because you're going to need to be honest with yourself (maybe ask someone for their opinion and don't take offense to their response). Turn your head to the side and look into the mirror to see the profile of your lashes- it's really important that you don't have mascara on when you do this. Here are some things to ask yourself when looking in the mirror:
- Are my lashes long?
- Are my lashes straight or naturally curly?
- Are my lashes naturally dark, or light?
- Then turn to face the mirror and check to see if your lashes are densely packed together or wispy and separated (I've found this often correlates to your own hair- if you have thick, curly hair, oftentimes your eyelashes are thick and curly too. My hair is pale, straight and thin, therefore my lashes are too).

Once you can say, "ok, my lashes are straight and short" or maybe it's, "my eyelashes are curly, long and dark," then you know what you've got to work with.

2. Mascara's of the past:
Maybe you had an old Maybelline mascara that you used to love, or it was a free gift from Lancome that you tried and hated... what was it that you liked/didn't like? Maybe it was too clumpy for you? Maybe it didn't thicken enough? Thinking about these products can really help narrow your options.

3. Decoding the mascara buzz words:
Here's the first 50%: Cosmetic companies have gotten really creative with how to describe a mascara- telescopic, butterfly, skyscraper... here are the core descriptive words that usually work for choosing a mascara:

Volumizing/Thickening: ideal for thin lashes that need to be plumped up and look fuller.
Lengthening: this should make your lashes longer (maybe fibers have been added to really lengthen).
Curling: this should be good at holding a curl while slightly curling them too.
Separating/De-clumping: usually this is a thinner formula or the brush has lot's of tightly packed bristles to comb out clumps.
Defining: this is pretty basic- just to enhance your lashes and give them a more natural look.

- Some mascara's are a combination of these words, so if you know what you want, then you'll know what to look for when reading the packaging.

4. The Brush:
Here's the remaining 50%:
The brush can make or break a mascara. Too small, and you may feel like you need 10 coats. Too large, and it may be cumbersome to work with. So yes, just like Goldilocks, you need to find the one that's just right for you. I love that drugstore brands (see the above pic) are showing you what the brush looks like. At department stores, and specialty shops like Sephora and Ulta, they'll even let you try/test the mascara right there. Here's the only problem: for hygienic purposes, those stores have disposable mascara wands for people to use (and not double dip- thank goodness!) but they're not the same wand that comes with the one you're really trying. So keep in mind you'll just be testing the formula in those instances.

**For me, I have pale, thin, long straight lashes therefore, I like a dark mascara that will thicken slightly, and hold the curl (I use a separate curler). But I hate too much thickening because I don't like clumping, and I have a small eye area so a large brush makes me look like a toddler playing with mommy's makeup. Too messy. So I stick with anything that is "lengthening" and "curling" with a brush that is on the smaller side.

How do you normally choose a mascara? Do you go by a friends recommendation? Maybe a magazine or advertisement? Or do you simply buy and try until you find the right fit?


  1. Thanks once again for the great info. re: mascara! It's super helpful. I usually try to purchase mascara with the least amount of chemicals in it & this gives me even more info. to go by.

    1. Thank you K.K., I'm glad you're finding the information useful. If you need idea's for natural mascara's I've always been impressed with Tarte's selection- here's what they've got to offer:

  2. Maybe you can suggest some brands for me to try? I'm a brunette with brown, average (not thick, not thin) lashes. I like to use a curler. I just want to enhance/define my lashes. My problems with mascara are: 1. it seems to get in my eyes and 2. even if I try waterproof mascara, it gets under my eyes and makes me look like a raccoon!! I prefer hypoallergenic brands. Can you help? Mystery Chick

    1. Hey Mystery Chick, some hypoallergenic brands to look for are: Clinique, Almay, Neutrogena and Physician's Formula. As far as specific mascara's I'd recommend are: Clinique's Lash Power Mascara Long Wearing Formula (this isn't waterproof but smudge-resistant & should come off with water) and Almay's One Coat Triple Effect Mascara. You can wear black since your hair is dark and waterproof formula's can so difficult to remove that I'd try to stay away from them; instead look for smudge-resistant formula's. I hope this helps! Let me know what you try and how it works!

    2. Thanks! I'll be beauty shopping this week with your tips in hand and will keep you posted on my new "un-raccooned under the eye" look!! :) Mystery Chick

    3. mystery chick, I hope you get a chance to check out my newest article, it was inspired by you and your questions! Since you asked about specific mascara brands I thought others might want that info too. Here it is and I hope it helps!