Best Lengthening: Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Lift & Define Mascara
Why we love it: when we heard about Sally Hansen's new product line, Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy (makeup artist from the TLC show "What Not to Wear"), which is formulated with minerals, natural extracts, and active botanicals at affordable prices, we knew we were in for a treat. The line only offers one mascara, the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Lift & Define Mascara ($6.39, CVS), so we were thinking that if there's only one formula to try, it better be good! And, Sally didn't let us down: we immediately saw a difference in the length and fell in love with the new look of our own lashes. This mascara both defines and conditions with panthenol, keratin, and wheat protein, not to mention its paraben and fragrance free. The brush gave us nice control of how much was really going on our lashes, and erred on the slender side -- but we preferred it to the brushes that look like the buffers at the car wash, or those that were extremely wirey.
Best Volume: MAC Plus Lash Mascara
Why we love it: the MAC Plush Lash Mascara goes on Goldie-Hawn thick, largely due to the brush on the applicator wand; it's fluffy, yet stiff, and resembles a pipe cleaner, which seems to be perfect for catching each lash. The slightly thicker formula does a great job of coating the lashes too. Wiggle the brush as you apply for added volume. Plush Lash is a pretty decent price, ($11 at Nordstrom) but if you're looking for something cheaper, the NYC Maximum Boost Volumizing Mascara was a very close second. It employs an extra wide brush like MAC. Plus, it's just $3.99 at N.Y.C. New York Color (click on "retail locator" to find the store nearest you that carries the line).
Best Curl: Maybelline XXL Curl Power
Why we love it: initially when we saw the doublesided mascara, we didn't want to invest the time in using two brushes instead of one (the first sets the curl, the second locks in the hold), but after we glanced in the mirror, we realized that wasn't an option. By far, the Maybelline XXL Curl Power, ($7.79 at Walgreens) produced the most incredible results, and we knew we were hooked. Our newfound starlet lashes made us feel ready to strut down the red carpet and bat our eyelashes at every paparazzo and Hollywood hunk that would look our way. We also love the LORAC Visual Effects Mascara ($20 at Sephora), which claims to curl, separate, and lengthen. While the rubber brush was a bit off-putting at first, it soon became second nature, which is good because the effect on your lashes is unreal. The formula and brush combination leave you with full, curled lashes that almost look as perfect as a set of false ones (without ever looking fake).
Best Color: CARGO SupersEyes Mascara in Navy
Why we love it: let's be honest -- using color mascaras can be a bit risqué, especially if you don't get the color and texture of it just right. Since colored mascara is such a big trend right now, we wanted to give it a whirl, and find one that functions off the runways and into our everyday lives. We were looking for a color that was noticeable, but wouldn't overwhelm our face and our other makeup, giving us a clownish or (gasp!) drag queen-esque look. We were extremely satisfied with Cargo's SupersEyes Mascara in Navy ($18, at Beauty.com), which gave a subtle tint of soft navy coloring to our lashes. Just enough to notice, not enough to gawk. Although not as extreme as a shade of blue, we thought that the Nars Mascara in Bamboo ($23, Sephora) was a nice departure from basic black, and was the nicest shade of brown we had tried on all day.
Best Break up Mascara (Waterproof): LORAC Publicity Stunt Lashes Mascara
Why we love it: nothing is more pitiful than mascara running down your cheeks as you cry over an idiot ex, which is why we highly recommend the LORAC Publicity Stunt Lashes Mascara ($18, Beauty.com). The formula doesn't rub off with moisture for -- get this -- three whole days. So you can spend the entire weekend at home, burying your head in your sob-soaked pillow, and still show up to work on Monday, wide-eyed and fresh as a daisy. Another option that really amazed us was the NYC Waterproof Mascara ($1.99) -- the results were astonishing, in that it did not run down our cheeks, crumble, smear, smudge, you name it –- it stayed put! You really get a lot of mileage for your $2 investment with this formula, so go ahead, swipe some on and commence to cry your eyes out –- we dare you.
Best Overall Bang for the Buck: NYC New York Color Lash Precise Mascara
Why we love it: after tirelessly sampling mascara after mascara and comparing the results, we were looking for the perfect mascara that gave us a mixture of attributes so that we wouldn't have to buy several kinds, and that also came in at the lowest price. If you're looking to spend the least amount possible, and still walk away with some pretty darn good looking lashes, we recommend the NYC New York Color Lash Precise for $4.99 (click on "retail locator" to find a list of stores that carry the brand). This mascara defines, separates, lengthens, and makes our lashes simply look luscious –- what more could we ask for? Also of note, Maybelline offers a ton of different mascaras in various shades of black and brown, clocking in at $4.50-$8, with optimum results.
Regardless which of our well-edited picks you choose, look forward to lovely lashes that are sure to be an obvious upgrade from your last brushstroke with your old, disappointing mascara.
-- Lindsay Sakraida & Julia DiNardo
Note: there may be a way to make the items mentioned above an even better bang for your buck -- remember to search stylenotes for special promotions and coupon codes that may be applied to your order.