Tempt: The Big, Fat, Guide to Mascara

In Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian and Persian, what is the word for "mascara?" Rimmel.

British chemist Eugene Rimmel invented mascara in the nineteenth century by mixing petroleum jelly and coal. Across the ocean T.L. Williams created a similar product for his sister Maybel. Both products were extremely messy but they marked the beginning of the cosmetic companies that are known as Rimmel and Maybelline.

Today, there are much better products out there than petroleum jelly mixed with coal.

This is a smart girl's guide to applying and purchasing mascara.



A Simple Guide to Applying Mascara

Curl Lashes

An eyelash curler is a must for mascara application.

I discovered eyelash curlers in high school after a makeup artist at Henri Bendel in New York City taught me how to use one properly. I was amazed by the way the curler drastically changed the way my lashes framed my eyes and after applying a coat of mascara, the curl in my lashes made them look ten times longer.

Eyelash curlers can be purchased everywhere. A pricey curler hardly ever means a better curl so find a comfortable one with the smallest price tag. No need to spend unnecessary money here. (I own the Revlon Lash Curler, it works very well.)

Eyelashes should be completely clean and makeup free. Starting as close to the upper lash line (the part that attaches to the eyelid) as possible and press down the curler firmly for three seconds, walk the curler halfway up the lashes and repeat for another three seconds. Finally, walk the curler up to the ends of the lashes and clamp the curler firmly down for the last three seconds.

Eyelashes should be more visible than before as they are fanned out and away from the eyes. This gives lashes a longer and fuller look.

Applying the First Coat of Mascara

Tip your head back so that you can see what you are doing. Starting with the upper lash line, catch the lashes as close to the base with the mascara wand as possible. Sweeping upward along the lashes, oscillate the mascara wand (Makeup artist Carmindy gave this advice to clients featured on the show, "What Not to Wear," where she was a featured guest.) Wiggling the wand, allows the mascara to cling to more strands making for a better application.

For most mascaras, the mascara should be allowed to dry before applying a second coat. Follow this rule unless the product instructions specifically advise otherwise.

Applying Mascara to Lower Lashes

Place the wand in a vertical position so that the wand tip is pointing toward the ceiling and the wand handle is pointing toward the floor. Gently dab mascara onto bottom lashes in small even strokes. This does not require a lot of pressure or accuracy, the point is not to make the lower lash line the center of attention; it's more to make sure the lower lash line matches the upper lash line.

Choosing a Mascara: My Review of the Sephora Favorite's Lash Stash (Including 8 of their best selling products)


Tarte Lights, Camera, Flashes

Tarte Lights Camera Flashes

This mascara comes in a garish gold tube. The wand has a slight crescent shape and the bristles are plastic. The plastic bristles do a fine job of preventing too much clumping and they collect the right amount of product. The mascara does get too thick at the tip of the wand but it's easy to swipe off before application. Lights, Camera, Flashes is a volumizer that makes wetter looking lashes. The bristles don't completely separate lashes because of the wide space between the plastic bristles. This mascara volumizes and lengthens, but doesn't define lashes.

Too Faced Better Than Sex

Too Faced Better Than Sex CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

This mascara really is better than sex. The wand has an hourglass shape and the bristles are very fine and closely knit. The mascara both defines, lengthens, and adds volume to individual lashes for a fabulous, thick, natural looking lash. The wand picks up the right amount of product which is slightly thicker formulation than its competitors. A must have for everyday makeup looks.

Sephora Outrageous Volume

Sephora Outrageous Volume CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

The short , stiff plastic bristles gives this wand a very firm touch. For those who have very sensitive eyes, the bristles pull on lashes in a way that could be uncomfortable. Because the bristles are so short and inflexible, they don't catch individual lashes very well so defined lashes are hard to achieve. The formula of this mascara lengthens lashes extremely well but second coats should be applied when the product is still wet in order to avoid serious clumping. Overall, not the best mascara on this list.

Benefit They're Real*

Benefit They're Real CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

Ask any sorority girl on campus what her favorite mascara is, and there's a pretty good chance she'll mention this wonder-product by Benefit.  A fan favorite, Benefit They're Real has a strong cult following in the beauty community.  Evenly spaced, medium length plastic bristles easily define individual eyelashes. The color of the formula is a little browner and grayer than the very black formulas that many of the other mascaras on this list have. The unique color of the formula gives the mascara a more natural hue. It's a good choice for blondes or redheads who have naturally lighter eyelashes and don't want their eyelashes to look unnaturally black.

Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash*

Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

With superfine, close knit bristles, Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash coasts lashes evenly and completely. However, when we tested it here at SHEI, the mascara became flaky as the day wore on. The formula just can't compete with the other mascaras on this list.

Yves Saint Laurent Babydoll*

Yves Saint Laurent Babydoll   CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

YSL's Babydoll mascara builds defined long lashes. It isn't for a thick voluminous look, but that doesn't seem to be the look YSL intended anyway. The mascara has a vintage feel. It's very Twiggy circa 1960. Babydoll builds up on the lower lash line for lively, wet looking lashes exactly like Twiggy's iconic mod photo. This is a must-have product for anyone inspired by vintage makeup. The spidery lashes it creates would pair perfectly with a black cat-eye and a red lip.

Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant*

Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

The tapered wand tip is a novel surprise when first opening Make Up For Ever's Smoky Extravagant mascara. Unfortunately as seen in the picture, the tip gathers an irksome amount of product at the tip making it necessary to thoroughly wipe off the wand before every application. The little extra work is worth it because the unique wand shape and solid formula make this an efficacious mascara. Smoky Extravagant is easy to layer and  thickens, lengthens and defines lashes. This mascara is very versatile.  By maneuvering the tapered wand, any look from classic everyday lashes to a wet, ill-defined vintage look can be achieved. We at SHEI, love this mascara!

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama*

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

Hypnôse Drama is another mascara with a strong cult following. The bristles are almost irregularly spaced as if the designers hoped by placing the bristles randomly at least some of them will catch a lash. But it works.  The bristles  criss cross across lashes coating them well on both sides of the lash. It is difficult to see in the picture, but the the wand tip has an S-curve to it. The curve gives the mascara adjustability and versatility. The formula has a lovely floral scent, a perk that is practically unheard of when it comes to cheaper drugstore mascara.

blinc Stop Painting Your Lashes... TUBE them!*

blinc Stop Painting Your Lashes... TUBE them! CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

The oval shaped wand end has stiff bristles that are closely knit together and move up the wand in a tight spiral. This mascara is superb for lower lashes because of the delicacy of the design. It doesn't do a great job of lengthening lashes but is superb at defining and thickening lashes. The mascara is buildable and very black in color.

Clinique High Impact Mascara*

Clinique High Impact Mascara CC by Leah Marie Walkiewicz

The soft, close-knit clumps of bristles make this a stunning mascara. Not only does Clinque's High Impact Mascara create dark, long lashes, it layers well. The thickness of the lashes are adjustable. The wand end has a soft hourglass shape which catches lashes well but isn't the best for getting the lashes closest to the inner corner of the eye.


When to Throw Out Mascara

The shelf life of a tube of mascara is supposedly around 3 months. I generally follow the rule that if it makes a wet popping sound when opened and smells the same as the product did when originally purchased it, it's safe to use. Never use mascara that is dried out or smells funny because there could be bacteria inside. Never pump mascara. While pumping the wand in and out of the tube seems to gather more product; it's counterproductive to proper application and fills the tube with air bubbles which will dry out the mascara faster.



*The mascara bottle pictured is the trial size version, the packaging of the full size product may be different.