OH, MASCARA. There are as many possibilities out there as there are remedies for intestinal gas (have you noticed that there are entire drugstore aisles stocked with pills and liquids that promise to de-bloat and flatten, forestall or cure? This is neither here nor there but interesting, I think).
Returning to the subject at hand, mascara: There are lengtheners, thickeners, the ones with little tubes that embrace each lash, primers, and different colors to enhance the eyeballs. The brushes go from teeny tiny for the bottom lashes only to big fat rollers that could coat a wall with paint when you’re done.
No matter how wondrous the claims, the magazine ads always have in squint-or-you’ll-miss-it type: Simulation of actual product results on lashes enhanced with inserts.
Or words to that effect. A tad dishonest, don’t you think?
Between us (and you’re included), we’ve probably tried them all, and yet we keep searching and buying and trying and spending pots of money in the process.
Shauné Hayes has done makeup for celebrities like Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Natasha Lyonne and chef Carla Hall, plus a scrolling finger-numbing list of public figures, as well as for events, and publications including Ebony, Vogue Italia, and what MUST be every bridal magazine and website on the face of the planet.
Her favorite? Lancôme’s Définicils ($27.50, Ulta), because I love the shape of the brush,” she says. “Mascara application has to do with the brush, and this one defines the lashes, it doesn’t clump.”
A less pricey favorite is L’Oréal’s Voluminous ($8.99, Ulta), but a thumbs down goes to that frequently mentioned favorite of models, Maybelline’s Great Lash. “That’s one of the ones that gets a lot of hype but doesn’t do anything for me. I’ve never understood its popularity,” she says.
Drat that clumping. MyLittleBird’s art director, Kathy Legg, had a favorite from Dior that she can’t seem to find anymore – it’s no longer on the Dior site— and doesn’t recall the name. “I liked it because it had a teeny, tiny brush that allowed you to get to those really small lashes in the inside corner of the eye. And it didn’t glob up like so many brushes do. That’s the problem with mascara in general. Globs.
“It isn’t until the mascara starts getting old and dried out that I can manage to get most of it on my lashes instead of everywhere else on my face.”
Tsk, says MyLittleBird editor Janet Kelly, “Of course you know that you’re supposed to replace mascara every few months.”
But Kathy’s right, isn’t she? That last little bit in the tube is just great.
Not a loyalist, Janet likes Chanel’s Inimitable Mascara ($32, Nordstrom), “the one that says it lengthens and curls. But she’s currently enamored with Too Faced’s Better Than Sex ($24, Ulta). “Its claim to fame is the hourglass brush silhouette, which for whatever reason succeeds in coating my lashes, which desperately need volume. Just this morning I happened to notice how much better my eyes looked with it on than they did in their naked state. Depending on the occasion, one application of the inky black formula is all I need. It’s not perfect,” she adds a caution, “ it does flake a little.”
Nancy McKeon, MyLittleBird’s managing editor, says “for a long while I was using Lancôme’s Immencils [which appears to have disappeared from the line]. It was fine. Recently I’m trying Badgal Bang! just because I was in a Sephora store.” ($25, Sephora).
You know how that goes…I was in Sephora, worrying about the Middle East and…
“It says it’s ‘volumizing,’ I don’t know about that,” she says, noting that she also uses “Lancôme’s Hypnose ($27.50, Ulta)—nicer brush (more expensive).”
As I said, buying, buying, testing, testing. Nancy brought up another point. “I like the sample sizes that come as gifts-with-purchase because they force me to buy new.”
Oh! Target hit! I’ve always noticed—haven’t you?—that the samples tend to have a better consistency than the full tubes. I wonder why.
I also wonder where mascara disappears to. One puts it on and a few hours later it’s dissolved into the ether. I suppose there’s no answer to this either.
Then there’s old lady eye(lash) angst.
“I’ve read women of our age shouldn’t wear mascara,” says Kathy, who just coats the lash tips for definition. “But I do it anyway. Damn them!”
Nancy adds: “I think maybe I don’t want anything dramatic from my mascara. I certainly don’t want Kewpie doll eyes. I have long-ish lashes and it’s enough that the mascara darkens them.”
Shauné says, “Older women can definitely still wear mascara—it opens the eyes, bringing attention to them. As we get older the key is not putting on too much, just to enhance.
“If black is too much, try dark brown,” she adds. “Black can be too harsh—or try medium brown. Both Lancôme’s Définicils and L’Oreal’s Voluminous come in brown.
“Just make sure it’s not clumpy and heavy.”
LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” also likes to get her hands dirty messing with makeup.