One of the cool things about being an in-house magazine beauty editor was the easy access to a willing pool of on-location testers for beauty products. Mascara is a cosmetic folks will line-up to test.
The decision to test a whack of mascaras came from an epiphany I had at Canadian Living magazine – one woman's idea of "one coat of mascara" is wildly different from another's. For instance, for Laurie who has ridiculously long lashes, one coat of mascara is a stroke of the wand on her inner lashes and another on her outer lashes – just two strokes in total, per eye. For me, one coat is 30-plus strokes of the mascara wand from outer to inner then back again, and again.... Per eye.
Here are the results of that testing. Wanna weigh in about your favourites in the comments after this post? How many strokes of a mascara wand is one coat of mascara for you?
1. Avon SuperFull Mascara, $4.99
Lash description: short and sparse
One coat of mascara is: three strokes of the wand
Verdict: "Goes on smoothly and gives me long and full-looking results. It also wears well, without smears, smudges or flakes. In fact, I prefer it over my usual big-name drugstore brands."
– Paula Maciel
2. Estée Lauder Illusionist Intense Maximum Curling Mascara, $27.50
Lash description: long, thick and straight
One coat of mascara is: about 12 wand strokes from middle to outer to inner
Verdict: "No clumps at all from this one, but what I can't believe is that it actually curled my stick-straight lashes. I just wish I didn't need eye-makeup remover to get it off. And surprisingly, the nonslip rubber handle on the wand is a plus."
– Donna Paris
3. The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara, $15
Lash description: thin, naturally curved
One coat of mascara is: 28 wand strokes
Verdict: "Clumps as it goes on but gives pretty good volume and wears well through the whole day."
– Annette Waurick
4. Cargo SuperEyes Mascara, $19
Lash description: thick but fine, and curly
One coat of mascara is: 20 wand strokes, with five to eight more as a second coat
Verdict: "Although I think I get more volume from Artistry Definitive Lash Mascara, Cargo SuperEyes glides on so smoothly that my lashes look naturally lush. Also, despite having oily lids, I've experienced no smudging, melting or flaking of any sort, even after a sweaty workout (miraculous!)."
– Colleen Tully
5. M.A.C Zoom Lash Mascara, $12
Lash description: long but fine
One coat of mascara is: with this mascara, eight to 10 strokes
Verdict: "I usually use a lash-thickening formula with a dense brush, such as L'Oréal Paris Voluminous or Lash Out. M.A.C Zoom Lash made my lashes noticeably longer, but its thinner consistency and less-dense brush don't deliver much volume. I compensated with more wand strokes and smoothed out a bit of clumping with a lash comb."
– Jennifer Melo
6. Benefit Get Bent Mascara, $25
Lash description: thick lashes, average length
One coat of mascara is: two strokes of the wand (more if going out)
Verdict: The bent wand took a bit of adjusting to, but it was good at getting to all my lashes easily and gave me a great natural, everyday look that needed no touchups.
– Kate Dowhan
7. Cover Girl Lash Exact, $8.99
Lash description: short, fragile and sparse
One coat of mascara is: 30 or so strokes fairly evenly from outer lashes in and back
Verdict: "I need lots of mascara just to look like I have lashes, so clumping can be a slight issue. With this mascara, however, the tapered, perfectly staggered flexible Lash Exact bristles glide through my lashes and the smooth formula delivers a natural yet defined fringe that doesn't smudge or smear, despite my oil-slick lids."
– Janine Falcon
8. Giorgio Armani Mascara Maestro, $32
Lash description: sparse, coarse and straight (I always curl them)
One coat of mascara is: 10 quick strokes per eye, from inside to outside
Verdict: "This brush takes getting used to, but it's cool. Shaped like a triangle with three minicombs separated by channels of mascara, it allows me better control over the amount of mascara I apply â€“- I can make a rolling action with my wrist to put lots on, or I can hold it relatively straight to put on a little."
– Helen Racanelli
9. L'Oréal Paris Volume Shocking, $14.95
Lash description: thin and short
One coat of mascara is: approximately 10 strokes
Verdict: "This easily mastered two-stepper begins with a primer, which has a great, densely bristled brush. Step two's brush is a comb, which I didn't think I'd like at first, but it actually separates the lashes nicely and applies the product well. My lashes look very long!"
– Suzanne Lacorte
10. L'Oréal Paris Telescopic Mascara, $10.95
Lash description: average thickness and length
One coat of mascara is: one or two passes of the wand along the upper lashline
Verdict: "The 3D comb wand is somewhat difficult to use. The mascara sits in channels between a trio of minicombs [like the Giorgio Armani brush] and can go on quite thickly, but the wand design allowed me to use the tiny comb teeth to separate clumpy areas. The final result is nicely dramatic, and I'd use Telescopic for evenings out – but only when I have time to use the brush properly."
– Jessica Pollack
11. Napoleon Perdis Long Black Mascara, $28
Lash description: long and full
One coat of mascara is: 15 to 20 short, quick strokes per eye
Verdict: "This mascara features a bent-wand applicator, which seemed strange at first but eventually had me wondering why all mascara wands aren't bent. Its ergonomics allow for easy application, even to the lashes at the corner of the eyes. The formula itself wears well and washes off easily at the end of the day."
– Natalie Bahadur
12. Almay Triple Effect One Coat Nourishing Mascara, $7.95
Lash description: fairly thick, average length and straight
One coat of mascara is: back and forth for six or eight strokes from inner to outer lashes
Verdict: "This one promised fuller, longer and curvier lashes, and although the end result is fuller and a bit longer, I still need to use a lash curler. As well, the brush is too dense to comb through my lashes to clear the slight clumping that occurred during application."
– Kat Tancock
13. Anna Sui Super Long Lash Mascara, $20
Lash description: short
One coat of mascara is: at least seven wand strokes
Verdict: "The brush has too many jagged bristles for me to apply the mascara evenly. Once I figured out how to make the brush work for me, though, it made my lashes look longer, yet lightweight. However, I noticed it flaking off at the end of the day."
– Sarah Snowdon
14. Dior DiorShow Unlimited Mascara, $23
Lash description: thick, slightly longer than average
One coat of mascara is: 25 wand strokes with a second coat of three strokes to separate
Verdict: "A more watery formula than my usual brand, it made my lashes look longer and more defined without adding volume and without clumping."
– Olga Goncalves-Costa
15. Clarins Wonder Volume Mascara, $27
Lash description: very pale and sparse
One coat of mascara is: at least a dozen wand strokes
Verdict: "I have very sensitive eyes and several allergies, so a no-flake hypoallergenic formula is key. Wonder Volume is opthalmologist and allergy tested, and doesn't flake into my eyes. It also goes on easily despite the number of wand strokes I need to get the definition I want."
– Pauline Anderson
16. Revlon Luxurious Lengths Mascara (Waterproof), $10.95
Lash description: average thickness and short
One coat of mascara is: two strokes of the wand
Verdict: "I have allergies, so I like mascara that goes on smoothly and dries quickly before my eyes can water. This one is exactly what I want: a thin, drier consistency that doesn't smudge. My lashes look natural, yet longer and more defined. The brush, however, could be a little less dense to separate my lashes better."
– Karen Kirk
17. Yves Rocher Luminelle Lash Separation Mascara, $10.50
Lash description: long and obstinate
One coat of mascara is: one or two wand strokes -â€“ more if I'm going for drama
Verdict: "This is a gentle formula that wears well if applied sparingly at the outset, and washes off easily. I prefer a curved brush, but this one was good at separating my lashes. Nice for everyday; I'd use something else to glam up."
– Sarah Silva
I first wrote this article for canadianliving.com. It spent a fair number of months as a featured story on sympatico.msn.ca and even found its way into a few blogs -- totally cool. Given the time and expense it can take to find the perfect brush and formula for fabulous-you lashes, of course mascara reviews are a hot topic. And mascara love and loyalty is clearly influenced by your unique physical eye make-up as well as your application habits.
Here are links to beautygeeks posts on Maybelline New York Great Lash and Define-A-Lash, Cargo Better-Than-Waterproof (which I'm wearing along with CoverGirl Line Exact liquid liner in this post's photo), and Clinique Lash Power.
Now what about your faves? And how many wand strokes = one coat for you?