How to choose the best mascara for you

A wander through the cosmetics aisles reveals more mascara options than ever. Here’s how to choose the right one and enjoy it to its fullest.

Thanks to the sheer volume of mascara types, choosing the right wand can be confusing, which is why we’ve called in the experts to help guide you in finding your ideal option.

What to look for in a mascara

Before you buy a new mascara, the experts suggest asking yourself a few key questions.

Make-up artist and Embryolisse ambassador Charlotte Ravet says to consider what you want your mascara to achieve.

“Assess your priorities: do you want length, volume or an extra-black formula?” Charlotte says.

Make-up artist Christina Rodio adds you need to account for the current state of your lashes.

“Consider the natural length, shape and thickness,” Christina advises.

They agree that wearability is paramount.

“A great mascara should feel comfortable and not make the lashes or eyes feel dry or irritated,” Christina notes.

Remember to check in the shop whether the mascara is waterproof.

If it is, you may need to add a special remover into your cleansing routine.

How to choose the right brush

Different mascara brushes achieve different lash results. Here are the main brush choices


A skinny brush offers lash definition and separation for those hard-to-reach bottom lashes.

“These are superb as a pre-step before a volumising mascara,” Charlotte notes.


US-based cosmetic chemist Ginger King says ball-tip wands can reach inner and outer corner lashes because the brush can be moved around the lash easily.

Christina says ball-tip brushes are also good for smaller or hooded eyes.

Triangle or Cone-shaped

Both these brushes are thicker at the base and thinner at the tip, making them ideal for volume and definition.

“Use the pointed end on individual lashes and the wider base for a fanned-out elongated lash,” Christina advises.


Comb brushes are often paired with lash-defining formulas because “they separate the individual lashes to prevent clumping”, Ginger says.


“Curved brushes follow the eye’s natural shape. They hug the lash line, coating lashes from root to tip,” Christina explains.


“Spiral brushes are designed to enhance lash curl thanks to their unique twisting shape,” Ginger says.


“A rectangle bristle brush helps with volume and length because it coats the lashes well,” Christina says.

Types of mascara formulations

Once you understand the various formulations, you can choose a mascara that does exactly what you want it to.


“Lengthening mascara formulas contain polymers to add length to the lashes,” Ginger explains.

To boost lash length, Charlotte suggests first using a lash growth serum as your base.


While ideal in humid or wet conditions (or when you’re teary), waterproof formulas are harder to remove.

“Waterproof formulations contain wax, silicones or oils and are resistant to water and sweat,” Christina says.


“Volumising mascara formulas contain more wax, to add to the thickness of the lashes,” Ginger says.

Charlotte suggests applying this option in a zig-zag motion to enhance the appearance of thicker lashes.


“Curling mascaras lift the lashes to give them a curled appearance,” Christina says.

They contain a polymer formula designed to keep the curl up and are best used with a lash curler, Ginger says.

Lash defining

These “enhance the lashes without clumping them together”, Ginger explains.

They are neither “too wet or waxy” and are usually paired with a comb brush to separate each lash.


Tube-like polymers wrap around each lash for a flexible coating that doesn’t flake or smudge, Christina says.

“(And) they come off easily in tube-like shapes with warm water or gentle make-up remover.”


“Tiny fibres that cling to the lashes make them appear longer and thicker,” Christina says.

Charlotte adds these mascaras often require two steps — “the first to apply the fibres and the second coat to set them in place”.

Why you might need a range of mascaras

Now that you understand formulations and brush types, surely it should be simple to find that one miracle does-it-all mascara? Um, no.

Make-up artists such as Christina invest in a “wardrobe” of mascaras that can achieve different looks and finishes.

“Having a few different mascaras means you can change your look as needed,” she says.

How to care for your mascara

Whatever mascara you choose, these tips will help keep it in tip-top condition.

  • Store your mascara in the right spot. This means “a dry area that’s not too hot or cold”, Christina says.
  • Resist the urge to pump your product.

“Never pump the wand in and out, as this can force air into the tube and spoil your formula,” Christina notes.

  • Don’t ever share mascaras, as it can spread germs and bacteria, Christina explains.
  • Throw away mascaras every three months, or sooner “if the formula dries or if the product changes scent or texture”, Charlotte advises.

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Written by Sharon Hunt.