Disclaimer: I rarely wear mascara. On a night out (remember those?), I'll slap it on, but as a serial "face toucher" (something that skin experts always tell me off about), wearing mascara on the daily is just a recipe for panda eyes. Which means that on a normal day, you'll usually find me with a full face of makeup sans lashes. And it seems I'm not the only one. While mascara remains the holy-grail beauty product for many, cool girls and makeup artists often ditch mascara and opt instead for a combination of bare lashes and a bold lip, which I love.
However, after testing out all of the concealers on the market to bring you a guide to the best ones, I wanted to turn my attention to another beauty staple, and I reckon mascara is a good place to start. I have to say that I found some seriously good ones. So much so that I've actually been wearing mascara more regularly again.
Before we get started, I wanted to give you the lowdown on my natural lashes. My bare lashes are dark brown (which is why I've never been too fussed about wearing mascara), and they're pretty curly. In fact, they're so curly that they curl back on themselves in places, meaning that they look even shorter than they already are. They aren't the thickest (meaning that when I do look for a mascara, I like something that adds volume at the roots), but it's their length that I always want to boost.
There are tons of mascaras on the market promising to volumise, lift, lengthen and perform a lot of lash magic tricks. But of the 38 I put to the test over the last few weeks, these are the only nine I'd genuinely recommend. Keep scrolling for my before-and-after photos, and then shop my favourites.
Best for Natural Lashes
I've spoken before of my love of this Glossier mascara as an everyday option. While it won't deliver a dramatic falsies effect, it will extend lashes and give them a soft, natural finish that I loved. As someone who doesn't reach for mascara every day, it's a safe bet.
Best for Lifted Lashes
I had extremely high hopes for this mascara by Pat McGrath, the "mother of makeup." She's known for her boundary-pushing products, and this mascara didn't disappoint. It really lifted my lashes from the roots to deliver a wide-awake look, and made them look thicker and fuller too.
Best for Fluttery Lashes
Best for Curled Lashes
I wasn't really sure what to expect from a 'clean' mascara, but I'm definitely sold. Although it won't be up your street if you like a dramatic lash look, it did a great job of defining my natural curl. I wore just one coat for an everyday look, but it could be layered up if you want more volume.
Best for Thick Lashes
This is one occasion when the name of a product really does deliver. This Stila mascara generally left my lashes looking more huge than before. The brush is pretty mega, which means I did make a bit of a hash with applying it (my eyes are slightly hooded, so getting mascara all over my lids is pretty commonplace), but once it was on, I was seriously taken aback by the finished result.
Best for Long Lashes
At a fraction of the price of some of my other favourite mascaras on the list, this one from Kiko Milano really delivered. I'm always looking for a mascara that'll genuinely extend the appearance of my short, curly lashes, and this one really did the job. As well as lengthening, it delivers volume and thickness for my favourite lash look of the bunch.
Best for Fake Lash Effect
If you're looking for thick, clumpy, dramatic lashes (in a good way), this lash-maximising formula from Marc Jacobs delivers on all counts. It basically mimics the appearance of fake lashes without the hassle of applying them, which is a definite win in my book.
Best for Volumised Lashes
At the other end of the price scale to my Kiko favourite comes this gem from Chantecaille. Yes, it's the most expensive on the list, so I'm almost pained to say I think it might be mascara love. My lashes looked super volumised, thick and long. Yep, it's love.
Best for Basic Lashes
Sometimes you just need a mascara that's going to do the basics and do them well (a bit of definition, some subtle volume and a little extra length). On those occasions, this classic mascara from Max Factor does the trick. For me, this is the perfect "work" mascara, as it defines your lashes without making them look too OOT. Plus, it's affordable.