I am lost without my mascara. I absolutely have to put it on before letting anyone except Bob, of course, see me. Otherwise, my light, skimpy lashes simply disappear...a thought too frightening to bear.
But after losing every last hair to chemotherapy several years ago, I don't go for anything rough. That's why I adore these lash-boosting formulas. They darken sparse fringe beautifully, have all-day staying power and come off without a struggle. Plus, with prices ranging from about $6 to $36, you can buy several and have fun layering them for a show-stopping look.
What it is: A multi-tasking formula that volumizes, lengthens and lifts lashes with dramatic results.
What I like: I'm a long-time Elizabeth Arden fan. I give my mother Elizabeth Arden's holiday gift set every Christmas and she gives me the mascara. It's one of our favorite traditions!
Like the rest of the Elizabeth Arden family, the Grand Entrance mascara offers a lot to love. The glossy formula helps my lashes look both fuller and longer. Rich in vitamins, it promotes healthy lashes and I'm all about that. Since it resists water, I don't have to worry about my teary allergy eyes ruining the look. I've seen no smudging or flaking and it comes off easily with makeup remover. The small bristles on the slightly curved brush grab and coat every single hair, even tiny lower lashes, without clumping. Everything about this one, including the eye-catching red packaging, is designed for big impact. Try it in Stunning Black.
On the Shelf: $24 at Beauty Brands stores and BeautyBrands.com
Arbonne It's a Long Story Mascara
What I like: Arbonne's It's A Long Story Mascara does an amazing job stretching the truth. The jet black formula goes on smooth and builds beautifully. Swiping it over my lashes three times gives me terrific length and thickness. The slim, flexible brush has short, uniform bristles that darken individual lashes without excess mascara getting on your skin. It works so well I don't even have to reach for an eyelash separator.
This ophthalmologist-tested winner is water resistant and looks fresh all day without a touch up. Plus, it pampers my lashes with conditioning extracts and pro-vitamin B5 to help them feel soft and smooth.
On the Shelf: $36 at www.Arbonne.com
IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara
What it is: A new mascara featuring Elastic Stretch Technology to wrap each lash with volume-boosting, lengthening and conditioning color.
What I like: True to its name, this do-it-all mascara makes my lashes look much longer and fuller in a flash. The super-black formula is packed with powerful anti-aging ingredients like peptides, proteins, biotin and collagen. It saves the day as well as your lashes by plumping, lifting and strengthening each hair.
The full brush encourages curl and works to separate and define even the tiniest lashes. Although one pass provides a significant boost, I like going over my lashes several times to up the drama. The silky, super-buildable formula adds more volume and length with every coat. And the color stays put morning to night without fail. Developed with plastic surgeons and dermatologists, this ophthalmologist-tested champ is a great choice for those with sensitive eyes like mine.
On the Shelf: $24 at ITCosmetics.com
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
What it is: A lash-nourishing, smudge-proof formula designed to deliver intense black, oversized lashes.
What I like: A few sweeps of this magic-making mascara transforms my short, thin lashes into long, sexy fringe. The hour-glass shaped brush is thick on either end and thin in the middle. Yeah, I know that's really different but it works like a dream to separate and cover each hair with deep black color while promoting curl. That brush helps even my temperamental lower lashes (sometimes you see them; sometimes you don't) come out of hiding.
The lash-kind formula includes collagen and Acacia Senegal tree extract to condition, thicken and lock curl in place. Ophthalmologist-tested, it's perfect for contact lens wearers and others with sensitive eyes. Even better, this eye opener takes me from my desk to date night without smudging or flaking. But when it's time for bed, a little makeup remover helps it vanish without a fight.
On the Shelf: $23 at Ulta and Ulta.com
Osmosis Colour Mineral Cosmetics Curling Mascara
What it is: A vitamin-rich, waterproof formula that delivers both volume and curl.
What I Like: This newbie gives my lashes great thickness as well as a noticeable bend. The curved, cobra brush has spiraling bristles that help lift hairs and fan them out for a lush, full effect. One swipe separates my lashes and gives me natural-looking black color. But I like layering this non-clumping formula to build serious volume.
A favorite for tear-prone girls like me, this waterproof number doesn't run whether I'm working out or watching a powerful movie (most recently Tom Hanks' homecoming in Bridge of Spies). Infused with pro-vitamin B5, the lash-saving formula moisturizes and strengthens hairs so they're less prone to break. It helps my lashes feel full without being stiff. Plus, with the aid of a makeup removing wipe, it comes off without pulling or tugging so you don't have to fear fallout.
On the Shelf: $22 from beautystoredepot.com
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-In-1 Mascara
What it is: A lengthening, curling, volumizing and conditioning mascara infused with olive esters that pamper and protect lashes.
What I like: This fab, 4-in-1 find provides instant glam by stretching, curling, thickening and nourishing lashes in one step. Just keep a cotton swab handy because it makes lashes so long they might leave a touch of mascara on your eyelid near your brow immediately after you put it on. Imagine that! And talk about full, it's clinically proven to increase lash volume by 330%.
Moving the Goldilocks brush (it's not too thin - not too thick) in a zigzag motion from base to tip separates lashes, covering every last one in gorgeous black color. Even when I sweep it through my lashes several times, it doesn't leave globs of color on my waterline - yes! The dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested formula conditions, treats and protects my precious hairs preventing dryness that could result in breakage. A must-have for special occasions, this do-gooder lasts and lasts but comes off easily with makeup remover.
On the Shelf: $21 at Ulta and Ulta.com
Mineral Fusion Glow & Go Volumizing Mascara
What it is: A blend of minerals and antioxidants that enhances lash volume and strength.
What I like: This natural choice does a wonderful job filling in my skimpy fringe while promoting healthy lashes. With its longer bristles, the wand makes it simple to define, separate and drape my lashes in gorgeous color without making a mess. I like applying several layers of this mineral-rich pick to intensify the effect. It's perfect for busy days because it takes me from coffee with Bob to book club with the girls without smudging or crumbling. And it wipes off effortlessly with the help of a makeup removing towelette.
In addition to loving the look, you can feel good about using this hypoallergenic pick. It includes nourishing Vitamin E to enhance growth and strength as well as antioxidants that protect and heal lashes. I adore the Jet Black color but it also comes in Navy and Chestnut.
On the Shelf: $18.99 at MineralFusion.com, Whole Foods Markets and natural retailers nationwide
What it is: A smudge-resistant mascara that adds exaggerated thickness, definition and curl for instant glam.
What I like: This Fiona Stiles innovation puts the focus on fullness. The chubby brush separates hairs, fanning them out and covering them evenly with pretty color so each lash is emphasized. It also lifts them so you get a nice bend. I like going over my lashes several times because the velvety formula glides on smooth and builds like magic.
Although I normally go for the blackest black I can find. I tried this eye enhancer in Worth, a burgundy so deep it's almost black. It's great for a more subtle, daytime look, especially on my lower lashes where darker colors can call attention to the circles under my eyes. (Ugg!) It lasts without any raccoon-like effects (no smudging or flaking) and comes off without pulling or tugging my fringe. They say you can use soap and water (a non-no on my face) but a makeup remover did the job for me.
On the Shelf: $16 at Ulta stores Ulta.com
Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Mascara
What I like: This volumizing newbie from one of my go-to mascara brands creates extreme fullness and lovely curve while keeping lashes soft and flexible. The innovative Fanning Reservoir brush has graduated bristles that separate hairs so they look thicker. I hold it horizontally and pull it through my upper lashes from the root up to wrap each hair in striking color. Use the tip to accentuate those tiny lashes in the corner and under my eyes. Then repeat the process to increase the impact.
Since it's packed with precious oils, the wallet-friendly formula makes my lashes feel limber, not stiff and dry so I don't worry about breakage. The Very Black color is stunning but it also comes in Blackest Black and Brownish Black as well as washable and waterproof versions. Great for every day, the washable variety stays put until you're ready to say goodnight. Then it comes off easily with makeup remover or soap and water, your choice.
On the Shelf: $8.99 at mass market retailers
Rimmel London 24-Hour Supercurler Mascara
What It Is: A new volumizing mascara with built-in curling power to give lashes a "perm" effect.
What I Like: Designed to last up to 24 hours, this budget beauty buy from Rimmel London provides mega volume and curl, lifting lashes up to 90 degrees. That means you can forget the eyelash curler and the potential damage it can do pulling and tearing your fringe.
The chubby brush is curved so it fits the contours of your eye perfectly. It lifts and curls hairs, dividing and defining them so lashes appear much thicker. It works so well you don't need an eyelash separator to keep finicky hairs from sticking together. The silky formula goes on without clumping and sets the look for around-the-clock glamour. But you can bid adieu to it in the blink of an eye with the help of a makeup removing towelette. I tried this dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested find in get-gorgeous Black. Now, the Extreme Black shade is on my wish list.
On the Shelf: $6.49 at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Target and other retailers nationwide
We'd like to shout out a big "Thank You" to all the brands in this post for providing samples for review and testing.
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