We have tested mascara and name L'Oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes Fatale as best budget mascara, thanks to its easy-to-use brush which gives lots of volume at a good prince point. Best volume mascara was Lancôme Hypnôse which lasts a long time, has an easy-to-use brush and leaves no clumps. For those who value the length of the lashes we recommend Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara, which is our choice for best length mascara and efficiently bends the lashes upwards while giving a stylish, elongating result. Best luxury mascara was Lancôme Grandiose Extreme Mascara, which thanks to a small brush can get into every nook and create a fan-like effect.
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our tests of mascara, we asked someone who works professionally with makeup to use the mascaras, both in their work and on their own face. We also had two further people of different ages test the mascara, one of whom was a contact lens wearer. In our tests we have focused on examining the following:
Colour, packaging and wand: What does the product promise? How are the tube and wand designed? What colours are available in the range?
Use: What do the wand, brush and formula feel like on the lashes? How easy or difficult is it to apply? Is the product scented?
Result: What effect does it produce? How long do the lashes stay looking immaculate?
In addition to this we have also included how much the tube contains together with how economical the mascara is, compared this to the product price and then selected the test winner.
Easy-to-use wand that gives loads of volume for a good price
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 6 ml
L’Oréal's Million Lashes series contains a number of mascaras that give different amounts of volume and this Fatale version is intended to give both volume and definition – which it definitely succeeds with! Unusually small and neat wand for a volume mascara, accesses everywhere and neatly separates the lashes. Perfect if you want to wear volume mascara every day. We also like the fact that the wand doesn't require any special instructions. You just apply it normally, unlike many other mascaras where you have to move the brush on a particular angle. The result is impressive and definitely comparable with mascaras that are twice as expensive. The tube contains a relatively large quantity which also makes it extremely good value for money. The mascara lasts all day and is then easy to remove.
Type: Length and volume Price class: Luxury Contents: 6 ml
An unobtrusive tube conceals a magnificent mascara that doesn't simply give the length it promises to your lashes but also stays on through both rainstorms and blizzards. Clinique Lash Power Mascara is what's known as a tubing mascara, which is a type of mascara that sits around the lashes like a tube and hardens so that it won't flake, while also being water resistant. What distinguishes a tubing mascara from a normal waterproof one is that despite the fact that it tolerates rain, tears and sweat, you simply remove it with lukewarm water - you don't need either soap or make-up remover. Just dip a cotton wool pad in lukewarm water and hold it against the lashes for a moment to remove the mascara.
And it isn't just the durability and easy removal that makes this mascara a winner. The brush is substantial without being clumsy, and it's easy to use, making it simple to get really close to the root of the lashes, resulting in long and well-defined lashes. After just one layer, lashes become both longer and fuller, and if you curl them before use you're not far off a false lash look. Lash Power Mascara from Clinique is so good that you almost want to cry with happiness, and of course with this mascara you can - because it won't run in the slightest.
Clump-free mascara with fantastically good durability, small neat brush
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 9.4 ml
A mascara that gives really attractive black lashes. Your lashes will be separated and stay like that really well throughout the day, with no deposits under your eyes. The wand is small and easy to get into all the corners with. The slightly thin formula of the mascara makes it tricky to build up volume, but the fantastic durability and the fact that it doesn't clump at all make up for that.
Effectively curls the lashes upwards and extends them attractively. Available in two shades
Type: Length mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 8.5 ml
The narrow, curved wand is easy to use and the mascara is easy to apply. The lashes are effectively pressed upwards and simultaneously given a lot more length. One of our testers, who has very straight lashes, was extremely impressed and hardly needed to use an eyelash curler with this mascara. The mascara is available in two shades – an intensive black and a softer dark brown. The result is extremely durable and survived a sudden rain shower without problems. At the same time it was easy to remove later in the evening. It's true that the tube contains relatively little mascara and the price is quite high, but Elizabeth Arden's mascara still gets a high score because it does exactly what it promises and you really won't be disappointed.
Small wand that makes it possible to get to all of your small lashes and create a fan effect
Type: Multi mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 10 ml
The mascara wand has a curved shaft that at first glance feels unnecessarily complicated, but when you've got used to it it's an innovation you won't want to be without. The small wand and curved shaft actually makes it easier to get to each lash and get that "fan effect" that so many other mascara manufacturers emphasise in their marketing but so rarely succeed with. You get instructions with the mascara for how to use it. Also, with just a few layers, your lashes will get good volume and great curl, separation and length. The tube is attractive and feels luxurious and contains a reasonable amount of mascara, which also justifies the high price. The mascara stays on all day and is available in black and brown shades.
Unperfumed mascara that gives both good length and volume and doesn't cause clumps
Type: Multi mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 7 ml
The anonymous packaging conceals a really great mascara. Your lashes become dramatically raven black, separated and have great length. The result also lasts really well throughout the day, even in a humid environment. The wand is a classic shape with a nylon brush that makes it easy to access all of your lashes. As well as length, this mascara gives good volume. Another positive thing about this mascara is that it's allergy-tested and perfume-free.
Moisture-tolerant mascara that gives lots of volume and lasts all day
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 6ml
Estée Lauder's luxurious Sumptuous mascara succeeds fantastically at combining volume and durability. The mascara contains visible fibres which build up loads of volume on your lashes. You have to be careful to avoid clumps. The wand is neatly cone shaped, which makes it easier to access and create more volume in the outer corner of the eye to get a really good "false eyelash" effect. Nor is humidity a problem as this mascara easily lasts all day. However, it does flake a bit more than other volumising mascaras, but that's balanced by the extra volume it offers.
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Luxury Contents: 10 ml
Dior Iconic Overcurl is a volumising mascara that gives your lashes an attractive curl. The mascara definitely gives a great result without any other tools - you simply press the brush lightly against the lashes when applying it. But you achieve the very best results by using an eyelash curler first. The brush is thick and curved, but still easily gets into the smallest lashes, which isn't always the case with this type of brush. The product also keeps well over time in the tube and doesn't alter after a few weeks' use and exposure to air.
But the price can make even the most seasoned mascara user think twice. The tube exudes discreet luxury and feels nicely heavy in the hand. And this, together with the mascara's lifetime and the results mean that it's still worth the expensive price tag. Iconic Overcurl may be expensive, but it delivers what it promises. The mascara stays in place all day without flaking, gives the lashes a fantastic curl and even the shortest, straightest lashes get an attractive boost.
Good value for money, cheap mascara with a good wand and the ability to create great volume
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 7.2 ml
This mascara from MaxFactor has been around a few years but is still a good product. You can create great volume with just a few layers, without clumping. It also copes with a damp climate effectively without running. The wand is a small, neat rubber brush that makes it easy to access all your lashes. At the end of the day it flakes a little, but for a budget alternative it's really good.
Two step mascara with serum and colour, which gives great volume and has a good wand
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 6 ml x 2
The mascara has two components – a white serum to increase growth of new, longer lashes and which gives clear volume, and at the other end of the wand the mascara that covers the white lashes and gives a good result. Moisture is no problem – the mascara copes with it without running. The wand is a classic style with a nylon brush and it's easy to access all your lashes with it. The mascara can be used with or without the serum and gives results both ways.
Good budget mascara that gives nicely separated lashes
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 9 ml
Volume Million Lashes has an easy-to-use consistency and the result is really attractive lashes. The wand is large and requires a little concentration, but it separates and gradually builds up volume on lashes without them becoming heavy. During application the scent of the mascara can be a bit much, but this disappears once it has dried. Cheap and good!
Lots of mascara for the money. Gives attractive, black lashes with good durability
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 13.1 ml
An intensive black result that lasts all day is what you get from this good value for money mascara. However, to build volume with False Lash Effect you need to get to grips with the wand. It has a blunt tip which makes it more difficult to access the innermost eyelashes and the lower lashes without getting mascara everywhere. Once on the lashes, the mascara delivers volume and good durability that works well for both everyday and party makeup. In terms of coping with moisture and flaking it's absolutely fine.
Type: Precision and length Price class: Budget Contents: 6.4 ml
L'Oréal Paradise Extatic gives length, precision and even a little volume while also being very easy to apply. It also gives a lasting result - at least during the first month of use. During the first few weeks, it's hard to beat the durability of this mascara. It doesn't drop at all during the day and there's absolutely no flaking at all. But after you've used the mascara for about six weeks, the consistency seems to change and it just doesn't stay in place as well any more. The mascara starts to flake in the early afternoon and by the evening you end up with a clear shadow beneath each eye, which is a shame. Because it doesn't make any difference how good a mascara is in general - if it makes you look like a panda even before it's time to leave work or the party, it's just not doing its job.
If you can live with having to replace your mascara when the tube's still half full because it dries out so quickly, then perhaps L'Oréal Paradise Extatic is a good choice. But if you feel that it's not an environmentally-friendly choice to throw out so much unused product, it might be sensible to spend your cash on another mascara. There are plenty of other products that are good enough for you not to have to settle for one that's mediocre.
Mascara for length with incredibly durable result, including in humidity or rain
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 11 ml
The spiral-shaped wand looks cool but feels more like a gimmick – the effect isn't exactly unique. It also turns out, when we look for more information about the mascara, that the bareMinerals website describes how you should rotate the wand 180 degrees while applying the mascara. There's no mention of this technique on the packaging and it's a really difficult application method. The mascara, which is only available in black, states that it's primarily intended to give volume, but we felt that lashes instead mainly become longer, with hardly any extra volume. However, it gets a major plus point because it doesn't flake at all and gives durable intensity, even in moisture and rain. Because the tube contains so much mascara it's also relatively good value for money compared with other mascaras in the luxury segment.
Durable mascara with effective wand that reaches even the smallest lashes
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 9.5 m
This mascara, which is only available in black, has a clever cone-shaped wand that makes it easy to get to every tiny lash. Unfortunately, despite its small size it also picks up a lot of liquid, which makes it very difficult to manage. Sometimes we had to dry it off on paper to get the right amount, which is really something the tube should do. The wet formula also takes a long time to dry, which makes it fiddly to build up a decent volume. When the lashes are finally dry you can create both length and volume, but it clumps easily. Unfortunately it's also very difficult to remove from your lashes, even if you use special eye makeup remover. However, this does mean that the mascara lasts really well during the day.
Cheap mascara with a curved wand to give better curve to the lashes
Type Volume mascara Price class Budget Size of tube 9 ml
This is clearly one of the cheapest mascaras in the test. The spoon shaped wand is intended to give better curve on the lashes. However, you need to practice a fair bit to apply it without splodges. The "spoon" is intended to help curve the lashes at both the inner and outer corner of the eye. This works really well on the upper lashes, but it's more difficult to get at the lower lashes without accidents. Doesn't really last the whole day as it has a tendency to flake, and doesn't really cope with moisture well either.
Stays in place the whole day without flaking or running. Available in two shades
Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 13 m
False Lash Epic is available in two colours – black and brown-black, which looks a little softer and more natural. However, unfortunately the wand feels a little complicated. It really needs to come with specific instructions, but instead you have to look these up yourself. The spiky ball on the top of the wand could be a good idea, but instead it just makes it very difficult to use. The idea is that you can apply mascara to the small lashes with the ball, but instead our testers regularly just poked themselves in the eye. The unnecessarily complicated wand also means that the result is uneven and unfortunately doesn't produce the volume we had hoped for, instead looking more like spider's legs. The durability is the best thing about this mascara, and it neither flakes nor smudges under the eye, instead staying in place until you choose to remove it.
Durable mascara that gives good intensity and separated lashes
Type: Defining mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 6 ml
The narrow wand is easy to use, easily gets right into the roots of the lashes and helps lift the lashes. The lashes become intensively black and simultaneously nicely separated. Unfortunately that's about it – you don't get the promised "false eyelash effect", and there's not particularly much volume or length. The tube that the mascara comes in is very stylish, but because it holds so little it's also very expensive. However, the result lasts all day without flaking or smudging and there's no problem removing it at night. If the price wasn't so high this would have been a perfectly OK everyday mascara.
There are two questions you should ask before you buy mascara; what kind of eyelashes do I have and what do I want them to look like? Some people want lots of volume, length and intensity. Others want a more discreet and natural result. It used to be the case that length and volume were always two distinct aspects of mascara. But with recent products it's common to get everything from one product, described as having a "false eyelash effect". The formula of a mascara often consists of colour pigment mixed in a base of wax and water. Thickeners such as powder or talc are also added to volume products, while the extending variants often contain nylon or silk fibres that look like small eyelashes. These then stick to the ends of the eyelashes providing a little more length.
The effect of the mascara depends on both the design of the wand and the formula. Wands have developed a great deal in recent years and are now almost always made of silicone, which gives extremely accurate results. Large, dense wands give the most volume as they pick up the most product. Bow-shaped wands follow the shape of the eyelashes, access everywhere and curve the lashes slightly. Narrow and oblong brushes most often given length and define the lashes. Often black is the only colour available, but sometimes a mascara range has a brown shade too. These are perceived as softer and more natural, and are particularly suitable on people with lighter skin and hair colour.
Before applying mascara, make sure that the area around your eyes is dry and that your eye cream is oil free – otherwise the grease from the cream can cause the mascara to rub off on your eyelid and run under the eye. If you start by curling your lashes with an eyelash curler, it can be easier to access your lashes with the mascara wand and the lashes also get more of a curve, which opens up your eyes. One tip to avoid smudging your eyelids when you brush the mascara on is to hold a mirror below your chin and look downwards. Another tip is to hold a card against the eyelid and then you can apply the mascara with more force and any excess will end up on the card.
Start by placing the brush right in at the root of the lashes and then zigzag it forwards. To increase the false eyelash effect, you can apply a few extra layers of mascara in the outer corner of your eye. You can create really thick volume lashes by waiting for 30 seconds between mascara layers. By brushing on the next layer when the previous one has dried, you can build the volume up. If you work over wet mascara instead you simply wipe off unnecessary mascara, which is perfect for a more natural look.