The Complete Guide To Mascara

Mascara is one of the makeup items that have been with us from the beginning and probably the number one item people would choose if they could only keep one makeup item. This is because it really is an instant product, it makes such a difference to your look and can instantly wake up the eyes and show off your gorgeous lashes.

From pretty basic beginnings of one to two types of mascara, theres now a wand for what seems to be every look and occasion as well as a different formula to go with.

I’ve tried a lot myself and it is something that is quite trial and error and personal preference  but if I’m honest, I also feel like some brands just bring out gimmicks to freshen up their lines and these odd ones tend to to be discontinued after a while. In the same breath, however, wands and formulations have come a long way and they definitely can make a difference to the look you want, be it natural, lengthening and defining, spidery or volume.

I’ve broken down a few of the best sellers to make it easier for you to choose the right one

Let’s talk about formula first.

Non-waterproof vs Waterproof vs water resistant are terms I’m sure you’ve all heard.

Waterproof – being just that, it’s not going to budge which sounds like what we need however it has cons… can be hard to remove and dry out the lash. You will need a separate oil based eye makeup remover for most. Great for athletes or the beach and your wedding day or if you are going to be crying

Water resistant – probably my favourite and whilst it does a great job in staying put and not running with the slightest bit of moisture, it’s not hard to remove and does not dehydrate the lash. My favourite one, which is the MAC extended play range can actually be removed with warm water and gentle rubbing with a cotton pad or face cloth

Non-waterproof- not much to say about this formula apart from it is your regular mascara that most of us are used to and if  it’s a good brand, it will still have staying power however may run at the first sign of a watery eye –

most brands are moving to the water resistant formulas.

Lengthening, volumising, defining, curling or all of the above!

Some claim to do it all and some are for specific results. In this case you need to assess your lash and see what kind of look you would like to achieve. For example, my own lashes are fair and fuller rather than long so I tend to go for a defining and lengthening option. If your lashes are long and fine, opt for volume mascara and if they are pointed downward or very straight, a curling mascara will help you get a nice lift and curl. Bonus for using a lash curler, whatever your lash type.

Wands! So many!

I’ve listed the ones that have stood the test of time and the newer ones that have stayed with us over the years too.

Classic – suits most lashes, medium sized with a consistent length. Suits most lash types.

Clinique High Impact Mascara, Black 01, 7ml


Thick with full bristles –  great for volume and quick application, can be a bit awkward if you have smaller eyes or lashes.

Lancome 01 – Noir

Curved wand – to add curl

To the lash and great to get in to corners as it allows your hand more angle to play with.

Maybelline The Falsies Mascara Very Black

Skinny wand – my favourite! Great for building and defining the last for gorgeous length and definition

Mac Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara by M.A.C

Ball tipped – there are a few versions of this. The want is typically plastic with the end resembling a toilet brush. This is a great one for a multi purpose formula. The end allows you more control and easier application to your inner and outer lashes.

Benefit They’re Real Mascara Black FULL Size – unboxed for postage

Plastic/rubber – similar to the ball tipped but in a more classic shape with the difference being that it’s flexible so hard to make a mistake, comfortable to hold and great for gripping the lash and styling to perfection.

L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Mascara Extra Black, Precise Application for Up to 60 Percent Longer Looking Lashes


Application tips

  • make sure your lashes are clean
  • Lash primer works wonders
  • Using a hand mirror allows you to manoeuvre the lid so you are getting all angles
  • Wriggle the wand from root to tip, this deposits the most product at the base where you want it and spreads the right an amount toward the tips and avoids clumping
  • Get a good lash curler, I’ve linked an amazing one.
  • Use water-resistant on your bottom lash

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler

Removal tips

Most formulas – micellar water will be your best friend but for a stubborn waterproof mascara, you will need an oil-based remover specifically formulated to remove waterproof. Don’t tug at your eyes with a regular cleanser, trust me! Take it as a small extra step. A good cotton pad is also key and I’ve linked the Shia wood cult favourite which can be hard to get your hands on!


Lancome Bi-Facil 78228 125ml

Bioderma Crealine H2O Micelle Solution 2 x 500ml

SHISEIDO S Cotton Pads 80 pcs by Shiseido

Lash care

You can keep your lashes hydrated by using a hydrating serum in the evening before bed. There are some really great ones out at the moment.

L’Oreal Paris Clinically Proven Lash Serum for Stronger, Thicker-looking lashes, Enriched with Castor Oil and Hyaluronic Acid

Longevity – mas at should be tossed after 3 months and never shared with someone else, ever! Don’t worry the smell will let you know when it’s bin time!

Top mascara brands – maybelline, ysl, Lancôme, MAC, benefit, L’Oreal, Estée Lauder, Clinique.

I hope that breaks down the world of mascara and makes it easier for you to choose your new mascara or change up your old one that may not have been doing the trick for you!

Kim Kiernan

Makeup Artist & Beauty Columnist

Kim provides professional makeup services in Malta for any occasion, working in all areas of makeup including Bridal, photographic, television, film and special effects as well as teaching makeup lessons one to one and to groups. With over 10 years experience, Kim has worked with the biggest and most sought after brands in the industry, internationally with MAC, Smashbox and Estee Lauder in Dublin and Toronto and most recently, heading the MAC Cosmetics brand in it's launch in Malta.

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