3 things you probably didn’t think to look for in a mascara

How to pick a new mascara

Trust us, you’ll want to read this before you shop

Beauty Crew Editor / March 12 2019

Buying a new mascara is always a roller coaster of emotions. There’s the excitement and anticipation involved in the search and purchase, then the optimism felt upon first trial, and then if you’re lucky, that high keeps going because you have done it: you have found your new Holy Grail mascara. But sometimes, there’s that plummeting feeling in your stomach that you have just thrown your hard-earned cash in the bin, because that new mascara has not ticked the essential boxes.

And so, to minimise the disappointment and money wasted on products not suited to you and your lashes wish list, we spoke to some of Australia’s top makeup artists for their advice on what you need to look for and consider before you buy a new mascara. According to makeup gurus Rae Morris, Elsa Morgan and Sarah Laidlaw, a mascara’s wand and brush design are key.

#1/ Look at the shape of the brush

Fun fact: the way a mascara brush or wand has been shaped can impact what it will do for your lashes. There is no way we could bullet point this into a few succinct sentences (in case you haven’t noticed, there are A LOT of different brush shapes these days!), so instead we highly recommend you open our article on what mascara brush designs can do for your lashes in a new tab, and come back to it later. 

#2/ Consider the brush itself

Mascara wand shape aside, the brush bristles can also influence what your lashes look like post-mascara application. Not only the general brush size, but what the bristles are made from and their density, too.

Brush size
If you tend to reach for the biggest brush you can find, it may serve you to know how it affects your overall lash look.

“If you’ve got really curly lashes, you might find a big brush just pushes your lashes onto your eyelid. Whereas if you’ve got lashes that are quite straight, you can get away with the big brush because you’re not going right near your eyelid and getting mascara all over your face,” says Laidlaw. It’s also important to note that a bigger brush can hold more product, so it will deliver a lot more of the mascara formula onto your lashes at once, which will leave them looking thicker. If you prefer a cleaner, more separated look, a smaller brush size may be right for you.

For a large brush that’ll add curl, try COVERGIRL LashBlast Volume Mascara, and for something a little smaller for straighter lashes, try Clinique High Impact™ Lash Elevating Mascara.

Soft bristles vs hard bristles
Softer bristles (those made from nylon or rayon) tend to “give you more of a fluffy lash,” says Morris, while harder bristles (usually made from rubber) “cut through the lashes and really separate them to give you more of a ‘piecey’ lash look.”

For a fluffy lash look, try Max Factor Volume Infusion Mascara, and for lashes that are defined and separated, try Lancôme Grandiôse Mascara.

Bristle density
Have a look at how many bristles are in your mascara wand, and how close together (or far apart) they are.

“The more bristles the wand has, the finer the application and the fluffier your eyelashes will look. Less bristles, the more space, and the thicker the lash will be, because you are really getting it in between the lashes. It’s like using a fine, fine comb and a wide comb in you hair – they’ll do different things,” explains Morris.

Morgan has another easy way to remember it: “The fuller the bristles, the fuller the lash. A cleaner, more comb-like bristle will ensure your lashes look clump-free and natural.”

For a mascara brush with maximum density, try Maybelline New York Colossal Big Shot, and for a brush that'll really get between your lashes, look at Benefit They're Real!.

#3/ Take a look at the wiper

The wiper is the mechanism that wipes the mascara wand as you open the tube and remove the brush, and it can make a huge difference to how the mascara applies.

“A big thing that changes a mascara is the size of the inner. They need to be tight on the products [otherwise] you’re getting too much product on the mascara wand,” says Morris.

Laidlaw warns that the ‘chunkier’ the formula looks on the mascara wand, the chunkier it will apply, making it important to look for a narrow wiper so it scrapes most of the formula off the brush (while still leaving enough for your application). If you're looking for a mascara wiper that'll minimise chunkiness, Laidlaw recommends L’Oréal Paris Volume Million Lashes Feline Mascara

While testing mascaras on your lashes in-store is a big no-no (eye infections are never fun), it pays to have a play of the opening mechanism before you buy your mascara to see how it suctions out of the tube.

Do you have a go-to mascara wand shape that you love? Please share with us in the comments section below!

Image: Edward Urrutia

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.