Mascara: Playing Up Your Natural Attributes
I am an extreme lover of mascara to the point that my lashes once felt naked without a coat or two. My goal has always been to look like myself — just better — which is why I love both skincare and cosmetics.
Before my beauty habit became a full-time job, I was a Dior Show mascara loyalist. I purchased tube after tube of the cult-favorite lash potion and saw no reason to stray from my trusted fave. I am so familiar with this product that I can basically break it down into functional phases from "fresh" to "finished." For example, it dries out quickly — but, depending on its consistency, there are special ways to wiggle the brush to prevent clumping and extend its tube-life.
(Photo via Buro via Christian Dior)
That being said, I was in total denial about two important things for all those years. First, it's not cruelty-free. Dior admits to testing on animals when it is required by law, as are all cosmetic products sold in mainland China. Secondly, it's not clean. This mascara practically ran in my blood I wore it so often, but I was exposing myself to toxins, irritants, and potential endocrine-disruptors. Even their newest formulation is paraben-free, but contains a few troublesome pigments, preservatives, pH adjusters, and more.
And so, after 14 years, I parted ways with Dior — and have been playing the field like crazy ever since. I have tested everything from lash extensions (fun but not a fan — too high maintenance), lash conditioners and enhancers (my favorite is Moon Boost by Luna Nectar), different brushes, formulas, new launches, and combinations to recreate a worthy alternative to the Dior Show effect.
Here is the beauty wisdom I have unearthed so far...
The Winning Combo
Westmore Lash Drama Bold & Beautiful Mascara ($27) + Jane Iredale Pure Lash Lengthening Mascara ($24)
I wore these two to a pool party at the Fab Fit Fun Summer House event and was so pleased with my lashes that they inspired this post. They were noticeable without looking faux from both the front and sides.
To recreate the look:
(1) Apply Westmore, which goes on thick and provides dramatic texture. The best way to apply mascara is to start at the base, gently wiggling the brush as you apply each coat. Pay extra attention to light-colored lash ends, and go heavy on the outer corner for an eye-enlarging effect.
(2) Use Jane Iredale's lighter blend and fabulous brush to separate lash strands, provide lift, and add the finishing touches. The formula has a self-adhesive like quality — probably thanks to gluten — but this makes it great to apply pre-curl.
(3) Don't forget to curl your lashes! My friend Gaby insisted that I begin curling my lashes in college, and it changed my life. The industry's go-to lash curler is the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler ($21) which is currently sold out at Nordstrom. Try Sephora X Utowa PRO Universal Curler ($19) or Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler ($21) as alternatives.
Note: Both are cruelty-free and Jane Iredale is clean, as well.
My Personal Favorite
Jane Iredale's Pure Lash Lengthening Mascara ($24)
If I had to choose just one, it would be this... but thankfully I don't — and neither do you. The brush is one of my favorites and the formula is efficient and dries quickly. Sometimes I wear it alone on days when I go au natural (i.e. not wearing liner), but I also love to apply it as a second coat to comb through my lashes and prepare them for curling. The line is clean, non-toxic, and cruelty-free.
Warning: Contains gluten! (I don't eat gluten but I do use this.)
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara ($23)
I picked this up at the Fab Fit Fun Summer House event and am very impressed. This mascara could easily replace Westmore in the combination I noted above. The brush isn't where it could be, but the product genuinely works extremely well, providing darkening pigment to the entire lash — from the base to the very end.
Tarte is cruelty-free, mostly vegan, and made without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, or gluten.
A Tubular Solution For Thin Lashes
Bodyography Epic Lash Mascara ($20)
If you have thin lashes, this one's for you. My guess is that this is a tubing mascara, which works by forming little "tubes" of product around each strand of hair. It's thick but lightweight, meant to give the effect of wearing false lashes. It provides this lash-boosting effect using a patented WideLash technology.
I use this mascara from time-to-time, but prefer thinner formulas. It is also more difficult to remove unless you wipe makeup remover outward from your face, gently pulling product off the ends. They suggest softening the cosmetic using warm water first before applying makeup remover.
Hint: My favorite eye makeup remover is Georgette Klinger Makeup Remover ($10-18), which replaced my old fave, Makeup Forever Sens-Eyes ($11-25).
Bodyography is vegan, cruelty-free, and the product is both gluten- and paraben-free.
The Green Beauty Insider's Favorite
Sappho New Paradigm Vegan Mascara ($34)
This luxury green mascara is on my beauty bucket-list. (As in, I really want to try it!) It was recommended to me by a clean beauty rep who has the inside scoop on the best clean/green beauty brands. She prefers it to the other green beauty front-runner, W3LL People Expressionist Mascara ($22), below.
Sappho is clean (non-toxic) and vegan.
The Clean Drugstore Buy
W3LL People Expressionist Mascara ($22)
Meet green beauty's award-winning champion. I love how accessible the line is — you can even buy it at Target. I actually find their formula a tiny bit too thin, making it feel wet, and has a minor potential to smudge. By contrast, I prefer a bit of stickiness, but not so much that it causes clumping.
I almost gave this spot away to a new Burt's Bees mascara that I scored at the VIP Sneak Peek of Byrdie's Beauty Lab in Los Angeles. The new launch is a perfectly acceptable $10 drugstore buy... except for one thing. Cruelty Free Kitty reported that Burt's Bees began selling their products in mainland China — which requires animal testing by law — meaning they are no longer cruelty-free. I was shocked!
Then, my amazing friend Cecily showed me this:
So, you can definitely still try their new Nourishing Mascara. I have it in brown.
Another Great Brush
Lily Lolo Mascara ($20)
A great mascara needs a great brush to capture every lash and comb them through, without clumping or making a mess. I dislike small brushes with short bristles; I prefer longer bristles that make it easy to apply the product while grooming my lashes at the same time.
Thankfully, Lily Lolo understands the merits of a wide brush with firm, plentiful bristles that smooth stray hairs into line. This wand's bristles comb through clumps and leave your lashes looking fanned to perfection. (See above!)
Note: Even a great brush doesn't work on already-dried mascara. If you are layering or adding a coat to dried lashes, wet a Q-tip with micellar water and run it horizontally across your lashes — just enough to loosen them up. Without removing all the product, you can remove just enough for a quick brush through. I used sensitive skin-friendly Simple Micellar Cleansing Water, but you can try a brand like DermaE or Pacifica for a vegan option. Steer clear of fragranced blends like the one by Garnier to keep your eyes protected.
Lily Lolo is vegan, clean, and organic.
Did I miss any of your favorites? Tell me on Instagram!
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