These days mascaras need to come with fringe benefits, preferably eyelash growth, and Smashbox Lash DNA Mascara ($19) is no exception. It claims that this is not your auntie's mascara, but "a proprietary complex of proteins and amino acids that bind to lashes—creating mega-length and curl while conditioning and rebuilding former lash damage".

Because I was darned if I could see any proteins or amino acids, I summoned Niall to sit on my shoulder. Not literally, of course, but  Niall does a good job of policing little omissions from my posts (like when I said there were no vitamins in Simple Kind To Skin and eagle-eyed Niall spotted the vitamin B precursor, panthenol). So I plodded doggedly through every single ingredient in Smashbox Lash DNA Mascara. I tried to give everything the benefit of the doubt; perhaps beeswax is a potent source of proteins and amino acids. Since we are not talking royal jelly here, but the humble beeswax used in any old lipstick, I could find a hint of vitamin A at best.

Just about everything else is a common emollient, film former or things like VP/VA Copolymer help that hair hold its style by its ability to absorb moisture or polyisobutene, a synthetic oil that is used as a mineral oil substitute or myristic acid, a coconut-derived fatty acid that can be an irritant and is considered a neurotoxin. But then right near the end of the list, I found hydrolyzed corn protein. Here we have protein, at least. Actually, not quite.

Corn is one of several vegetables or cereals (soy is another) that can be hydrolized by boiling in hydrochloric acid (found naturally in gastric acid) and neutralized by dunking it in sodium hydroxide (caustic soda). The protein in the corn is broken down into amino acids. Does this qualify as truth in advertising for Smashbox? Well one of the amino acids with a significant presence is glutamic acid, which is better known in its sodium salt form as monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer used in processed foods that some people (including me) are allergic to.

I must be missing something. Niall where are you when I need you....

Ingredients

Water (Aqua, Eau), Beeswax (Cera Alba, Cire D'Abeilles), C18-36 Acid Triglyceride, Alcohol Denat., VP/VA Copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax (Cera Carnauba, Cire de Carnauba), Polyisobutene, Stearic Acid, Isododecane, Glycerin, Silica, Ethyl Trisiloxane, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium Cetyl Phenyl Ether Disulfonate, Myristic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Isostearic Acid, Ethylene Brassylate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Caprylohydroxamic Acid, Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Trisodium EDTA, PVP, Ethoxydiglycol, Polysorbate 60, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Diglycerin, Panthenol, Black 2 (CI 77266).