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Five Best mascaras

October 18, 2010 Reviewed by Marta 26 Comments
Mascaras these days are coming within a hair’s breadth of being over gimmicked. They are vibrating, one-handed, lash growing….. Really, I just wanted something to make my lashes look great without making my eyes water. Sick of looking like a tragically bereft raccoon, I gave up the mascara wand – and then I found Korres’ mascara and my faith was restored. Now, with a bit of crowd sourcing, I’ve managed to pull together Five Best mascaras that do their job while doing no evil. Please let us know if you have a personal favorite.

Korres Abyssinia Oil Volumizing/Strengthening Mascara ($20). This makes my lashes look longer and visibly much more defined whilst being lightweight and natural. My eyes are very sensitive to makeup and water at the slightest provocation. But Korres doesn’t cause any irritation. The Abyssinia oil is known as crambe oil and is one of the richest known sources of erucic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid. Despite what Korres says, it is unlikely to do all that much for your lashes and, in fact, the bamboo extract’s silica may be of more use. Still, this mascara does its job if you are not hankering for anything dramatic - just your lashes, but better. No flaking or smudging.

LashFood’s Conditioning Drama Mascara ($27). Copley has at long last found a mascara that creates an effortless, clump-free look – without doing damage. After making LashFood her exclusive mascara for two months, she reported lashes that seemed softer and healthier. Although perhaps not longer or thicker. 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. Doesn't flake and is easily rinsed with a mild cleanser.

Physicians Formula 100% Natural Origin Mascara ($7.99). It is commendable for what’s not in it as much as what is. No parabens or other synthetic preservatives. I like that organic orange juice is the main ingredient followed my moisturizing glycerin. This has got to be the first time that I’ve come across cucumber extract in a mascara. Soothing cucumber is a great anti-irritant with the added bonus of being full of vitamin C. With rice protein and antioxidant green tea, this is a mascara that may actually condition your lashes. One reviewer reports, however, that it is too runny.

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes! ($13.99). Free of petrochemicals, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and talc, the formula is largely clean of all the major offenders. Unfortunately, it is not free of phenoxyethanol, TEA or chlorphenesin. Still we have seen worse and Copley chucked her Lancome Deficinils for this and never looked back. Marketed as a 4-in-1 product, this mascara is meant to not only lengthen and volumize, but also to curl and condition lashes. Natural emollients, such as waxes from rice bran, candelilla cera (derived from Euphorbia Cerifera), and carnauba (derived from the leaves of the Carnauba palm), coat the lashes to give them a longer appearance and ensure a smooth application. Meanwhile panthenol, or provitamin B5, provides the volumizing action. This natural lubricant makes lashes look thicker by binding to each hair, sealing the follicles, and moisturizing the shafts. Quick drying, long lasting and relatively smudge-proof.

Dr Hauschka Mascara ($25.95). Reader recommended, this mascara majors on neem oil as a conditioning ingredient that is used in Ayurvedic medicine to condition nails and hair. There is also antioxidant green tea. A useful addition is eyebright (Euphrasia Officinalis). It counteracts inflammation and reduces mucous drainage, thanks to its high levels of iridoid glycosides, flavonoids, and tannins. Eyebright was and continues to be used primarily as a poultice for the topical treatment of eye inflammations, including blepharitis, conjunctivitis, and styes.

Ingredients in Korres (brown):

Water, Sorbitan Olivate, Glycerin, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Stearic Acid, VP/VA Copolymer, Sorbitol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Isopropyl Myristate, Methylpyrrolidone, o-Cymen-5-ol, Panthenol, Phenoxyethanol, Polyurethane-2, Tocopherol, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, [+/- (May Contain) Mica, Iron Oxides, Ultramarines, Carmine, Titanium Dioxide, Ferric Ferrocyanide].

Ingredients in Lashfood:

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

Ingredients in Physicians Formula

Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Water*, Glycerin, Iron Oxide, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Glyceryl Stearate, Water, Beeswax*, Jojoba Esters, Tapioca Starch*, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Cellulose Gum, Cinnamic Acid, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract*, Glycine Soya (Soybean) Oil*, Hydrolyzed Oryza Sativa (Rice) Protein, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract*. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide.

*Produced from Organic Farming.

Ingredients in Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes!

Aqua, alcohol, oryza sativa (rice) bran wax, cyclopentasiloxane, hydrogenated stearyl olive esters, stearic acid, cera carnauba, triethanolamine, candelilla cera, acacia senegal gum, panthenol, VP/VA copolymer, phenoxyethanol, polyvinyl alcohol, aminomethyl propanediol, chlorphenesin, iron oxides (CI 77499).

Ingredients in Dr Hauschka

Water/Aqua, Alcohol, Sorbitol, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Camellia Sinensis (Black Tea) Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Hectorite,Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright) Extract, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil (Jojoba Wax), Beeswax/Cera Flava, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Wax, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil (Rose Essential Oil), Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Xanthan Gum,Lysolecithin (Hydrolyzed Lecithin), Maltodextrin, Silica, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide/CI 77891, Ultramarines/CI 77007,Carmine/CI 75470
  • February 26, 2013

    by donna

    I've always loved the marykay waterproof mascara.

  • December 22, 2012

    by Devin De Loe

    I have dry, sensitive eyes that are allergic to synthetic preservatives. I prefer natural mascaras that highlight (and separate) the lashes I already have. What would be a good mascara for someone like me? I've seen a few people talking about Lush - Eyes Right online but don't know much about it. As for the mascaras reviewed here, what can you tell me about the preservatives in them?

  • September 5, 2012

    by Barbara

    My all time favorite mascara is Benefit's " they're Real "! You name it... Length ,volume,curl,lift,long wearing, and absolutely no smudging. I also always use an eye lash curler. My best tip is I heat the curler for 5 seconds with my blow dryer . Then holder the curler on for 5 seconds max...incredible curl all day!! I have also used Dior show and Mally volumizing mascaras. Both very good but still like the Benefit the most.

  • August 27, 2012

    by Daniela

    The absolute BEST mascara is Max Factor. They all do what they say on the tin. I do not know the ingredients so I am not sure about sensitivities - can anyone share their thoughts?

  • August 27, 2012

    by Tiffany

    Hi Marta - I recently bought Luka Mineral Cosmetics Siren Mascara from the TIA store and was wondering why it failed to make the list. Haven't been using it long enough to call myself a die hard fan but I've been satisfied thus far and in your review you seemed very enthusiastic. Any particular reason it didn't make the cut?

    P.S. Super excited to see your mascara reviews, Justd! Buxom mascara is my favorite too, but I stopped using it because I worried about the ingredients and it wasn't water resistant enough for my rainy climate.

  • August 27, 2012

    by Cat

    Makeup Forever Smokey Lash Mascara!

  • November 30, 2011

    by Marta

    Susan, you could take a look at JustD's article where she tested a bunch of mascaras

  • November 30, 2011

    by Susan Robinson

    Way after the fact on this review, but Help! I need some mascara! My eyes (actually skin around eyes) has become very sensitive developing an eczema type reaction.
    I was using Lash Power (Clinique) but found it just flaked too much.
    I happen to have very long eyes lashes. Being 56 I am way past wearing mascara only, so with the addition of eye creams or light diffusing elements and some concealer for dark circles, even waterproof mascara smudges on me. The last I tried left huge smudges below my eye ( primarily where I had eye creams, not the inner part where I was using concealer).
    Does anyone have any ideas? Between sensitivity and creating my own smudges just by having long lashes and needing creams etc., I am quite discouraged. Even long lashes need some mascara!!!
    Susan Robinson

  • March 26, 2011

    by marta

    Cool JustD! Email me at with your thoughts on what you'd like to test and we'll get you started.

  • March 26, 2011

    by Lori

    JustD, I agree with you about Tarte Lights Camera Lashes! I will look forward to your reviews because I think we are in search of the same magical potion :)

  • March 26, 2011

    by Justd

    Absolutely Marta!

  • March 26, 2011

    by Gloria

    I too have been a mascara junkie. I have very sparse and short lashes. I recently tried about 2 months ago Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes, and I have finally found a mascara that does everything I want it to,but grow new lashes. I sometimes use false eyelashes for a special event, but since I found this mascara I haven't needed to use them. I have length, volume, and wow power.

  • March 25, 2011

    by VickyL

    I love Gabriel and Zuzu Luxe Mascara. They are both made by Gabriel Cosmetics and seem to have the same basic formula but with somewhat different brushes and colors. The formula is very benign in the world of mascaras. For me, it doesn't flake or give me raccoon eyes.

    You can get nice color and separation with one coat or go more dramatic with more. Zuzu has a great blue mascara and also makes the best liquid eyeliner. Gabriel/Zuzu lipsticks are also excellent - very moisturizing.

    Zuzu Ingredients: Aqua (infusion of aloe barbadensis leaf juice), cellulose gum, sorbitol, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, lecithin, panthenol, crithmum maritimum (sea fennel) extract*, xanthan gum, tocopheryl acetate, euphrasia officinalis (eyebright) extract, iron oxides, hectorite, titanium dioxide, potassium sorbate.

  • March 25, 2011

    by marta

    Hi JustD, you just got appointed as TIA's mascara correspondent. Let's pick a few for you to try out and we'll send them to you if you'll give us a thorough review. Are you up for it?

  • March 25, 2011

    by JustD

    I purchased the Tarte Lights Camera Lashes, and dabnabit! I just don't like it at all. I think it may be the brush, I adore Bare Escentuals Buxom brush, it really does the job for me, but I know I need a different mascara on these soon-to-be 58 year-old lashes. I haven't found anything organic, yet, that does the trick for me, still looking and wondering if I can get the type of coverage I enjoy with Buxom from an organic based product. Some women like enough mascara on to lightly accentuate their eyes, I like enough on to illuminate mine, if that makes any sense. My eyes are are my best feature, and day or night, I like to play them up.

    So, still looking for something that will do the job without making me come off raccoonish and over-done. As if! :)

  • March 17, 2011

    by Tammara

    I started using Fusion Beauty Lash Fusion XL about 2 months ago and love it! It's a creamy formula which I am not used to, but after using it for a week I got used to it, and it has really helped my lashes. They are longer than ever and I have way fewer lashes falling out, almost none in fact. My lashes have never looked better. One or two coats and I look like I have triple the lashes. The only downside for me is that the formula has several parabens, but I can live with that seeing as my lashes look amazing!

  • February 23, 2011

    by Vicki

    love tarte mascara. lashes longer and i swear i have more of them (left eye was looking little bare). no flakes and stays put during heavy duty workouts.

  • January 23, 2011

    by Georgia

    Hauschka's using essential oils and carmine in mascara is a very irritating combination for the eye area and there are some nasties in most of the other brands reviewed. For results without irritation, I quite like Ere Perez but prefer the Musq mascara even though it's not waterproof. There is always a trade-off!

  • December 1, 2010

    by Natalija

    I have used "Physicians Formula 100% Natural Origin Mascara" and found it to flake (depending on how much I apply...obviously the more I pile it on, the more it flakes). So, the dreaded raccoon did rear its ugly head every once in a while (it seems to be an "afternoon pet" in particular). The mascara did, however, feel good on my sensitive eyes and there was no irritation usually associated with mascara wear. Bear in mind that it does takes a bit of trial-and-error regarding the appropriate amount to use in order to keep the afternoon pet at bay. A note on thickening: in my experience at the present time all "natural mascaras" will simply define what you already have. That said, do not expect any miracles in volume (or even length for the most part). I am simply grateful when I find a mascara that doesn't sting, redden, or irritate my eyes making them water profusely! The same goes for eye creams...

  • November 3, 2010

    by Anne

    I went through a period where I couldn't where any mascara so I probably didn't wear eye makeup for about 10 years. Then someone talked me into selling Mary Kay and I discovered I could wear that. I liked it until they changed the formula and it became way too gloppy. I switched to Este Lauder and have been wearing that brand for at least 6 years now. They also came up with one that made my eyelashes look like fat spikes and then came Double Wear. That is the best yet. It goes on nicely, gives me fullness and length (or the appearance of) without looking freakish. It doesn't smudge (and everything smudges on me) and then washes off easily if I first rinse thoroughly with plain warm water first and then use my regular cleanser.

    And by the way, what's with all those false eye lashes they use to advertise mascara. Do they honestly think anyone believes those are real?

  • October 21, 2010

    by Gisele

    Hello Marta Have you tried Mary Kay Ultimate mascara? What do you think?
    Thank you

  • October 19, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Jaysie, I have added a sentence on staying power for each. You can also click on the product names (with the exception of Dr H) and read the original full reviews to get more details.

  • October 19, 2010

    by Oksana

    love Peter Thomas Roth Mascara - great ingredients, doesn't flake, lashes stay healthy,, easy to remove.
    Hauschka lengthens but doesn't produce any volume. Those sensitive to perfumes/cosmetic smells may not like it - pretty potent fragrance for a mascara.
    Ecco Bella makes a wonderful mascara - I have received soooo many compliments any time I used it.

  • October 18, 2010

    by Junko

    Used to be a Blinc Kiss Me user, great staying power and natural looking lashes for daytime, but the ingredients aren't so good. I've been using Tarte since Copley's review and 1 quick coat gives curl, volume & length, but it will flake sometimes. Tarte was a great recommend so now I'm going to have to give LashFood a try to compare.

  • October 18, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Because I haven't tried any of these brands, I was hoping for a line or two about how each of these stays put, especially smudging from lower lashes or flaking from uppers, and if they are easy to remove. Any chance such info can be added? Thanks!

  • October 18, 2010

    by scarlett

    Did you look at ARbonne's new mascara?

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