At what point did we start expecting more from our mascara than to add volume, definition, and maybe a curl to limp lashes? Now, beyond the basic lengthening and darkening for drama, you can find mascaras with far loftier goals aimed at your eyes. Riding on the coattails of the widely popular eyelash growth products (here are our most recent Five Best), everyday mascaras have got their sights set on a piece of the pie.

To name a few, Lancome High Definicils Precious Cells Amplifying Mascara, Rimmel London Lash Accelerator Mascara, and Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara are some of the most recent entries to the eyelash growth arena. Each one promises fuller, stronger lashes through the magic of a “grow complex” or one key ingredient (Swiss Apple Extract in the case of Lancome). Instead of making your eyes pop only after application, these mascaras strive to deliver long-term results after continued use, making basic makeup seem rather unmotivated.

Seeing as I’m a far cry from well-endowed in the eyelash department, I was drawn to the idea of having my mascara do double duty. If I could strengthen my lashes instead of drying them out - or worse - losing them to my nightly eye makeup remover, I could end the vicious cycle that is waterproof mascara. Such a product would be the ideal complement to lash-boosting serums or conditioners, which I continue to experiment with in hopes that my lashes may one day measure up to the thick plumage of my fiance.

Among all the mass-market mascara options out there, I was drawn to Conditioning Drama Mascara by LashFood, a lesser-known brand backed by promising ingredients. It feeds the lash roots with the same nano-peptide complex found in the ($70 steeper) Natural Eyelash Conditioner, which works according to a reader-reviewer. In addition to this peptide blend, the mascara’s formula sports arginine, biotin, panthenol, vitamin E, and a copper peptide complex. Copper peptides are the core active of Foligen Cream, a TIA favorite for hair growth. On the other end of the desirable ingredient spectrum are chlorphenesin, phenoxyethanol, and two parabens, all of which are linked to irritation, among other evils.

Formula demerits aside, I fell in love with LashFood’s performance. The basic wand managed to separate and extend my lashes with a couple of coats. Later in the day, I did not need to dab away flakes or smudges around my eye area, as if often the case with my other mascaras. Because it’s formulated to be semi-waterproof, the mascara comes off with a few splashes of mild face cleanser but doesn’t leave streaks if my eyes happened to tear up (thanks, contacts).

After making LashFood my exclusive mascara for two months, it would not be a stretch to say my lashes seem softer and healthier. Longer and thicker, probably not. Like other mascaras touting lash-boosting benefits, the proteins, nutrients, and amino acids in LashFood enhances the health of lash hairs through their growth cycle, reducing their shed rate. By complementing the lashes’ natural growth cycle, these mascaras might create the impression of lush lashes, but the actual hairs remain the same size and thickness.

I may never achieve eyelash satisfaction (naturally, at least). My fiance’s bare lashes are so long that they graze the lens of his glasses, while mine are more of the barely-there variety. I have a feeling my lashes will always fall short, so to speak. But at least I can fake it ‘til I make it. With LashFood’s Conditioning Drama Mascara, I have at long last found a mascara that creates the effortless, clump-free look I crave - without doing damage.

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Ingredients:
Water, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Copolymer, Cl 77499, Carnauba Wax, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Beeswax, Lanolin, Triethanolamine, Microcrystalline wax, Sorbitan Sequioleate, Copper Tripeptide-1, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Allantoin, Propylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Red Ginseng Extract, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Biotin, Arginine