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Mascara Guide for Makeup Beginners

posted in: Makeup
January 23, 2016

No makeup collection is complete without a few choice favorite mascaras. It’s the cherry on top of any look, and can transform your eyes into something fierce. Even on the busiest of mornings, I’ll usually take a couple seconds to pop on some mascara to feel that much more put together.

For makeup beginners, navigating the world of mascara can be daunting— there are so many different types for different purposes, and one size definitely does not fit all. Keep reading to learn about the basic variations of mascara and what they’re for, plus a free download comparing over 40 drugstore mascaras in side-by-side pictures!

Types of Formula

Believe it or not, mascara formulas haven’t really transformed in the past several decades. Due to FDA regulations, it’s usually easier for companies to develop an innovative new brush than rework a formula. With that said, there are two main functions to strive for with any formula: lengthening and volumizing.

A lengthening formula is pretty straightforward: the point of a lengthening mascara is to build onto the tips of the lashes to extend them far past their natural reach. A great lengthening mascara will give you fluttery lashes for miles, and hopefully maintain a natural look. Pictured: Maybelline Falsies Big Eyes Mascara

A volumizing mascara’s purpose is to add thickness to your lashes. It will leave your lashes looking full and plush, like a doll’s. Volume really makes the difference in getting a glamorous, stand out lashes. My favorite mascaras will both lengthen and volumize for an overall enhanced look. Can you tell the difference between the lengthened lashes in the first photo, and the volumized lashes in the second? Pictured: Maybelline Falsies Push Up Mascara

Types of Brushes

As I mentioned, with little difference between most mascara formulas, the brush is where it’s at when it comes to how well a mascara works for you. Two of the most common mascara brushes you’ll see are bristle and comb.

left: bristle brush, right: comb brush

Bristle (aka fiber) brushes are just what they sound like: flexible bristles circle the mascara wand and are cut into all sorts of shapes that help with application. The denser the bristles the better, in my opinion, since they help grab each lash and coat the mascara on.

Comb brushes (aka plastic mold) have bristles that are made of hard plastic. You’ll mostly see comb brushes in mascaras that claim to be defining (aka separating the lashes). Again, comb lashes work best when there are more tines, preferably longer as well, to combat clumps as you apply. Comb brushes offer a little more control since the bristles don’t bend, so you can get more precise application with them.

Both bristle and comb brushes come in all sorts of shapes— one you’ll see often is a curve, which helps lift and curl the lashes to get more height and shape.

Now that you know the basics of mascara, you have the tools you need to pick one that will give you the look you like most. Of course, there are still hundreds to choose from, even just at the drugstore. To help you navigate through the overwhelming amount, I’ve put together the Ultimate Drugstore Mascara Guide, which compares over 40 mascaras side-by-side in pictures to show you what each one looks like applied. Click below to get a free copy of the guide sent to your inbox!

Click here to get your FREE download of the Ultimate Drugstore Mascara Guide!

What type of mascara do you use the most?

11 Responses

  1. Gilded Maven
    | Reply

    Great article! Thanks so much for such thorough descriptions!

    Catherine | GildedMaven.com

  2. Kimmi @ The Plastic Diaries
    | Reply

    This is brilliant!!

  3. Allison @neversaydiebeauty
    | Reply

    I have several faves for different days/looks. Benefit’s They’re Real may be my most favorite, but I love essence I Love Crazy Extreme Volume mascara for $4.99 that gives me big volume. Maybe that’s why it’s always sold out at Ulta

  4. Harshleen
    | Reply

    My current fav is Too faced Better Than Sex! I like Rimmel Scandal eyes too!

  5. Sheila Arkee
    | Reply

    Great job on this mascara guide! I love Benefit’s They’re Real and don’t know how I went so long without it.

  6. Brooke @ Blushing Noir
    | Reply

    My HG Mascara is actually the layering of two lol I love to pair up MUFE Smoky Extravagant and TF Better Than Sex! I also like to pair up MAC In Extreme Dimension with MAC Plushlash

  7. Phyrra
    | Reply

    That’s a great tip about using minis

  8. CosmetopiaDigest.com
    | Reply

    Excellent post! Of late, I’ve been into minis or samples as well as the full-sizes don’t make sense to the wallet.

  9. Kim Porter
    | Reply

    i still haven’t tried benefit they’re real. I love tarte’s lights camera flashes mascara.

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