Style Points: Helping You Find a Mascara That Doesn’t Suck

It’s time to talk about mascara — one of the more befuddling makeup items. — photos by Tonya Kehoe

Mascara is probably one of the most bewildering and befuddling makeup item in the beauty aisle (second only to foundation). In fact, I just got asked the other day if I could recommend any decent mascaras. I said, “Sure…however, I will answer you in the format of a Style Points blog post, and if you need an answer sooner than Wednesday, you are out of luck. Read the blog.” then I walked away from the cosmetics aisle over to the Russell Stovers zone at CVS.

So why is mascara so tricky and mystifying to some people? Well, first consider the fact that most mascara ads have models wearing false lashes or are Photoshopped…so that is a “failure to live up to the hype” issue plus the fact it is either clumpy, too smeary, too waterproof, too easy/hard to remove, too irritating or too expensive.

Mascara is a beauty product that should be pitched after opening within 3-6 months and should never be shared (fun fact: we all have eye cooties).

I decided to create a simple list of my personal favorites — some are pricey, some are cheap, and I like them all for different reasons. Here with my unofficial, unsponsored picks for beautiful lashes:


CHEAP and NO CLUMPING:  “Clump Crusher” by Cover Girl

It is true: there is nary a clump to be found. However, even in the darkest black, it is still kind of a lightweight. Not very dramatic but perfect for daytime, casual or everyday wear. I use it all the time. It has an arched brush (not my favorite kind of brush), but good stuff nonetheless. (drugstores under $10)

NOT CHEAP and NO CLUMPING: “Dèfinicils” by Lancôme

Same as above although packs a little more punch (think: more dramatic lashes) than Clump-Crusher (worst beauty product name in recent memory? So aggressive!). Perfect formula. Great brush wand. Basically THIS IS THE PERFECT MASCARA. Apply one coat for regular times and two coats for hot dates times. (under $30 at prestige department stores or online)


CHEAP and LUSHLY BLACK: “Voluminous Million Lashes – EXCESS” by L’Oreal

lashes-fullThis formula in the blackest black is effective for building some serious lashitude. However, like all of this type of mascara, you have to take a little off the brush (I wipe a teeny bit off with a tissue) before you start working the mascara brush from the base of the lashes and wiggling it all the way to the tips. Otherwise it is a disaster, frankly. It is far better to apply two clean, thinner coats than one splotchy, lumpy fat mess. “Excess” is different than the regular “Million Lashes” because DUH. IT IS EXXCESSSSSSSIVE. (Drugstores under $10)


See above description but add smoother formula, WAY sleeker, ritzier package design (it just feeeeeeeels better) and super awesome long brush wand, which actually is something you will find in many of the prestige brands. A longer brush is weighted better in the hand offering better control and application — kind of like the difference between an art brush handle and a craft brush handle. THIS IS A DELIGHTFUL STOCKING STUFFER. And a little tiny luxury. That happens to make your peepers pop like you live on a yacht in the south of France instead of in the middle of nowhere surrounded by dead corn stalks and snow drifts. (under $30 at prestige department store counters, Sephora, or online)

There are four choices. You are welcome. And yes, you should take your makeup off EVERY NIGHT with whatever eye makeup remover you like. There are tons of good ones. Don’t make me review those too.


  1. Do you think there was an real difference between the cheap and “not cheap” mascaras? I’ve always wanted to buy one, but can never bring myself to pay so much for a little tube of mascara. But I can’t deny I’m always wondering what I might be missing out on.

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