Saturday, November 8, 2014

Messy Wands and Ugly Tubes: Notes on Mascara

I've just now come to terms with my sizable collection of mascaras. While I definitely don't have the biggest mascara drawer out there, I've gathered quite a few tubes of the stuff despite my self-professed eye makeup apathy. Really, brow pencil and mascara are the only eye makeup I wear on a regular basis...but I couldn't finish my makeup without them. I've come to realize that I have a "lips-lashes-skin" philosophy, a la Poppy King: if my skin looks nice, my lashes are done up, and I've got a great lipstick on, I don't need much else.

I decided I should gather these mascaras together and share my notes.

Here's my current line up, from left to right: Maybelline Full n' Soft, L'oreal Voluminous Miss Manga, L'oreal Voluminous Carbon Black, Urban Decay Perversion, CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher, Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam, and Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes. The CoverGirl is water-resistant and Perversion is a sample that's most likely not waterproof. Beyond that, I buy waterproof formulas in the blackest formula available with few exceptions.

For the purposes of this post, the mascaras are referred to as follows:

Maybelline Full n' Soft = Full n' Soft
L'oreal Voluminous Miss Manga = Miss Manga
L'oreal Voluminous Carbon Black = Voluminous
Urban Decay Perversion = Perversion
CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher = Clump Crusher
Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam = Retro Glam
Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes = MGLLL

TUBES: Is there some reason why so many mascaras have to have these ridiculously shaped tubes? Do they do something special for the formula that I'm just not catching? Because Miss Manga, Clump Crusher, and Retro Glam are all a giant pain in my ass to hold. See the big, round middles and the teeny bottoms? They're not ergonomic in the hands, and they can't stand up on their own. If the problem is that you don't want mascara rolling away (admittedly annoying), why not make the tubes square, like MGLLL? All of this aside, I like sleek simplicity with  most of my packaging, so the Urban Decay and Voluminous tubes are the most visually appealing to me. MGLLL is cute, although I'm biased because it's a classic design.

WET OR DRY?: Perversion and Miss Manga have the wettest formulas of the bunch. They take quite a while to dry, especially Perversion, which almost always leads to messiness and clumping. MGLLL is also on the wet side, but it's slightly thicker, more of a cream than a gel formula. I find that it dries faster than Miss Manga and Perversion as well. Full n' Soft is a drier, almost powdery formula, but it doesn't flake or clump, as compared to Voluminous and Retro Glam, which are so dry they actually kind of scrape my lashes. Clump Crusher represents the middle ground, having a gel-like consistency.

SHADE: The advertisements for Perversion are no lie: that is some black, black stuff! It's a shame it's so messy. Really, all of these are quite dark. If I had to pick which was the least black, though, I'd have to go with Maybelline Full n' Soft and Retro Glam, which look softer compared to the rest of this bunch.

BRUSHES: Clump Crusher and MGLLL have rubberized brushes; the rest are of the traditional fiber variety. In terms of shape, we have a small variety here. Voluminous, Full n' Soft, and Perversion all have relatively traditional brush shapes. Of those three, Full n' Soft has the longest brush hairs and Perversion is the most dense. Miss Manga and MGLLL both come to a pointed "spade" shape, but the difference in brush hair lengths is more pronounced with MGLLL. Retro Glam has a wavy shape. Clump Crusher is shaped sort of like a spoon: one side is flat and the other is curved.

BEST FOR A NATURAL LOOK: This award definitely goes to Full n' Soft. You get decent length and volume with this mascara, but no matter how many layers you pile on, it never looks spidery or dry. I've never had any problems with flaking, either, and it's easy to remove. This is my go-to work mascara.

BEST FOR A DRAMATIC LOOK: I don't often go for the super-clumpy, "I'm totally wearing mascara!" look, but if I do, I'll reach for something like Miss Manga or MGLLL. Both of these pitch-black mascaras distribute a ton of product and give me plenty of volume with some length. Clumping is there, but it's minimal.

BEST ALL-AROUND: While Clump Crusher has been temporarily usurped by these other mascaras, it will forever hold a special place in my heart. This product really does give you length and volume without the clumps. At the time of this writing, it only comes in regular and water-resistant formulas, but believe me, that's enough: my only gripe with this mascara is that it's tough to remove. I love that I can get a lengthier, more fluttery look by using mostly the flat side of the brush, or I can get thicker lashes with the round side.

LEAST FAVORITE: Retro Glam is pure trash to me; it does next to nothing for my lashes. Voluminous was a favorite of mine in graduate school, but I'm having a hard time figuring out why; it's a pain in the arse to remove, it flakes everywhere, and it dries out my lashes. Perversion is much-loved in the blogosphere, but I found that it stayed wet for so long that spidery lashes were unavoidable, even with tons of combing. It's also insanely messy.

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