For starters, I want to say that from the most expensive to the least expensive, from the vibrating brushes to the simplest applicators, one thing remains the same: mascara is mascara. Will you ever have lashes like the models in the mascara commercials? You will if you wear false eye lashes. Or if your lashes are naturally long and full. Otherwise, mascara will help to lengthen and thicken your lashes, but without using falsies, you will never achieve the look you see on the TV commercials.
That being said, there are actually quite a few mascaras that seem to do what they say and surprisingly, they are the less expensive brands. Maybelline is one of the most consistent mascaras I've used in terms of delivering on the promises made on the packaging. I recently tried the following mascaras:
Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash, Sephora, $18
After trying Bare Escentuals Buxom lip plumper, I was very impressed. I decided to try their mascara in the hopes that it was equally impressive as a plumping/volumizing product. Unfortunately, this mascara is just your run-of-the-mill mascara without any major lengthening or thickening effects. It does, however go on smoothly and doesn't tend to clump.
L'Oreal Extra Volume Collagen Mascara, CVS, $7.99
I was drawn to L'Oreal's mascara for much the same reason I was drawn to Buxom- I had experienced success with other products of the same brand. I like L'Oreal's True Match make-ups as well as many of their eye shadows. I'd heard good things about collagen mascaras and that's what made me give this one a try. Once again, I was disappointed. This mascara lengthens and thickens marginally, so the effect was not nearly as dramatic as I would have liked.
Estee Lauder Double Wear Lengthening Mascara, Macy's, $21
This pricey mascara claimed to last 15-hours without flaking or smudging. Lies. Don't waste your money! Also, its lengthening is marginal at best. I was recently told never to buy expensive mascara because the one that is always ranked #1 is Maybelline's Great Lash. That's right- the $5 stuff performs the best year after year. That's what made me try Maybelline. Well, that and the fact that one of my coworker's lashes always look spectacular and I finally asked her what she uses. Her answer: Maybelline Colossal Volume Express.
Maybelline Colossal Volume Express, CVS, $7.49
Another collagen-based concept, this mascara supposedly lengthens and thickens dramatically. For once, a mascara delivered on its promise. My lashes are noticeably longer and thicker when I use this brand. The product glides on easily. You don't have to wait for on coat to dry to add another, in fact, the packaging states you shouldn't let it dry. So just apply until the lashes are as long and thick as you like and you're done. The day I bought the Colossal, I was also intrigued by the Lash Stiletto, also my Maybelline. I decided to try it out, too.
Maybelline Lash Stiletto, CVS, $8.49
Not the original Lash Stiletto, what intrigued me about this version was its claim to also add volume. I bought both and did a side-by-side comparison that night on my lashes. Both the Colossal and the Stiletto had excellent lengthening and thickening effects. Only after trying each one out for a full day was I able to determine that I prefer the Lash Stiletto, but only marginally. I ended up preferring the Stiletto because it came in a nice "Brownish Black" color that's just ever so slighty lighter than black. On my fair skin and blonde lashes, I don't always like a harsh, black lash.
None of the mascaras above were used with any type of primer, but I wanted to see if it made a difference. I decided to stick with Maybelline since they really seem to know how to make mascara.
Maybelline XXL Pro Volume, CVS, $8.99
This type of mascara is a two-step process. First, apply the primer (which is white, strangely enough). This coats your lashes and makes them longer and thicker. After it dries, you apply the second coat which is the color. While it does produce dramatic lashes, I found it made them feel stiff. It held up well throughout a long day, but in the end I prefer a softer feel. Primer is best for someone looking for both length and volume. If you already have thick lashes, and all you want is a bit more length, a primer might be too much for you. But if your lashes are thin and you want it all, you might want to consider something like the XXL Pro Volume.
So there you have it: my experiences with a LOT of mascara. I really believe Maybelline is the brand that actually delivers on their claims. And with prices under $10, it's worth experimenting to find the perfect one for you. Good luck and let me know if you have anything to say about these or any other mascaras-just leave a comment!