Lash Out


By Alice Ryan


Little wonder mascara comes with a wand. It can work magic, as Alice Ryan explains

Mascara: The makeup bag miracle
Mascara: The makeup bag miracle

I read a terrifying thing recently: that, thanks to the stampeding trend for lash extensions, mascara could become a thing of the past. No, no it couldn’t. And here’s why.

A makeup bag must-have since the mid 19th century, when Eugene Rimmel formulated the first non-toxic lash lacquer, apply a lick - or three - of mascara and your face is instantly changed, and for the better, eyes wider, brighter and better defined.

It’s the ultimate egalitarian beauty product: there’s one for every budget, with prices starting at a couple of quid. And there’s one for every mood and style, too, ranging from I-woke-up-like-this natural to full-throttle drag queen. Want the false lash look? Just select the right mascara and boom: false-look lashes without the hassle, not to mention expense, of constant fill-in appointments.

Mascara is the first beauty product I ever bought - along with a metallic pink lipstick: this was the early Nineties - and I’ve been devoted to it ever since. Thanks to my heavy lids and overactive tear ducts, I now suffer horribly with transfer and smudging, so favour longwear formulas that weld to the lash and have to be coaxed off with oily remover. But it’s worth it.

Here are six of the finest mascaras on the market. Long may they open our eyes and lift our spirits.

Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara 4D, £22, John Lewis & Partners, Grand Arcade, Cambridge

Clarins Wonder Perfect 4D Mascara (9594308)
Clarins Wonder Perfect 4D Mascara (9594308)

This is an absolute cracker. New from Clarins, it promises to boost lashes in four dimensions - volume, length, curl and definition - and it really delivers. The brush is soft and fat and the formula pigment-dense and pleasingly waxy; it cleaves to your lashes, coating evenly root to tip, from the first sweep. Clarins’ signature ‘lash boosting complex’ is also said to increase lash length and volume over time.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, £19, Debenhams, The Grafton, Cambridge and arc, Bury St Edmunds

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (9594319)
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (9594319)

This is America’s number one-selling prestige mascara and it’s not hard to see why. I veer towards the drag end of the mascara spectrum and find many brands frustratingly clumpy when you layer up - but not this little puppy. The hourglass brush coats every lash so smoothly with carbon black, you can go for three layers without any clogs. Best of all, it’s formulated with film-forming polymers that keep it in situ, no smudging.

Estee Lauder DoubleWear Zero-Smudging Lengthening Mascara, £23, John Lewis & Partners, Grand Arcade, Cambridge

Estee Lauder DoubleWear Mascara (9594310)
Estee Lauder DoubleWear Mascara (9594310)

This mascara’s a classic and for good reason. It does exactly what it says on the tube: it lengthens lashes and has stupendous staying power (I’ve not clocked it, but apply first thing in the morning and it still looks sharp at nightfall). The micro-fibre brush detangles lashes as you apply, for maximum definition, and a polymer-rich formula means the colour won’t wander, even in the face of heat and humidity.

KORRES Natural Black Volcanic Minerals 3D Volume Mascara, £17.00, lookfantastic.co.uk

Korres Black Volcanic Minerals Mascara (9594312)
Korres Black Volcanic Minerals Mascara (9594312)

What really impresses about this mascara is the way it delivers full-on drama yet is light as air on the lashes: thanks to volcanic minerals, cotton and grape extracts and sunflower polymers, it combines serious colour and volume with a fairy-light, flexible feel.

Sisley So Volume Mascara, £43, Space NK, Trinity Street, Cambridge

Sisley So Volume 3D Fortifying Mascara (9594316)
Sisley So Volume 3D Fortifying Mascara (9594316)

It may be the most expensive product on this list, but it’s worth every penny. Following in the footsteps of the brand’s feted So Intense and So Curl formulas, designed to deliver colour and curl respectively, So Volume is a go-big-or-go-home mascara: from the furry caterpillar of a brush to the science bit, which apparently plumps hairs from inside as well as out, it delivers lashes Kim Chi would be proud of.

La Roche-Posay Toleraine Volume Mascara, £16, lookfantastic.com, feelunique.com and independent pharmacies

La Roche-Posay Toleraine Volume Mascara (9594314)
La Roche-Posay Toleraine Volume Mascara (9594314)

Developed with dermatologists for lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes, this hypoallergenic mascara contains purified pigments and reconstituted lachrymal liquid to keep peepers comfy for up to 16 hours. Its fine-bristled, high-tolerance brush and patented Extend-Lash formula deliver a nice, more natural fullness.

Expert Opinion: Phoebe Ann Brooks, of John Lewis & Partners Beauty Studio in Cambridge, shares her top tips

“Trends come and go but good lashes are forever. Having the perfect mascara is a staple in a makeup bag. Whether it’s black, brown or a wild colour, mascara will always be the thing that finishes a look. Find one that can do it all: curl, lift, define, and lengthen.

“I’d suggest aiming for a wetter formula. You have to be more careful during the application, but the wetness allows you to drag the formula up and through the lash, coating the entire hair, not just clumping up at the root.

“A perfect mascara in my opinion is By Terry Mascara Terrybly; it’s super pigmented, perfectly coats the lash, and even has a growth booster serum built in.”

The Beauty Studio offers one-to-one skincare and cosmetics advice. To find out more, email TheBeautyStudio.Cambridge@JohnLewis.co.uk or call (01223) 22853.