There are hundreds, probably thousands, of mascaras to choose from, but have you found the perfect one yet – and what makes them different anyway?
If there’s one item of make-up I don’t think I could live without, it’s my mascara. I could even cope without concealing the odd spot or covering my uneven skin tone if I was armed with a good mascara to makes my eyes look big, bright, blue and awake.
And I always keep going back to the same one, Max Factor’s 2000 Calorie, as nothing seems to beat it for full, thick, long lashes (and it’s still only £7.99).
I first discovered this mascara when I was in my early thirties, after reading a magazine article showing how to recreate the model’s make-up. Max Factor’s 2000 Calorie mascara was recommended by the make-up artist who said she swore by it. I can’t remember the magazine, or who she was, but I went and bought one because I’d not found a mascara up to that point I really liked (and constant trial and error gets a bit expensive.)
I’m still tempted to try the occasional ‘amazing’ or ‘revolutionary’ mascara when one’s launched that gets a good bit of press coverage, but I’m always disappointed and always – always – go back to 2000 Calorie.
Since this mascara was launched around 20 years ago, mascaras have really developed, with the shape and texture of the brushes promising all sorts of results on your lashes. And it can get a bit confusing. So what does each brush type do – and are they worth it?
Comb wands are usually small and flat, and made out of either plastic or rubber. They have small teeth, which separate and define the eyelashes. Because I was so impressed with Max Factor’s 2000 Calorie mascara, I decided I might as well try a different type of mascara from a company that I knew delivered. So I tried Max Factor’s 24 Hour False Lash Effect mascara (£11.99) which has this type of wand. As well as the wand, the science behind 24 from False Lash Effect is its built-in primer that effectively wraps each lash from root to tip, binding the mascara to the lashes. It made my lashes longer, but very thin. I’d call it a spidery effect and you’re right if you’re thinking that’s not a good look.
Straight and tapered brushes
Brushes with big, thick bristles are great for adding volume and this is the type that comes with 2000 Calorie. Thicker brushes are usually made with synthetic fibers and will give you volume. Generally, a bigger mascara brush will put more mascara onto your lashes giving them more volume. Brushes that taper towards the end give you a finer point so you can touch up each lash at the end, to add even more definition (point the end of the brush towards your lashes to do this, rather than having it parallel to your lid). Experimenting with how you apply mascara with these brushes lets you determine your final look; you can create fullnes, or clump several lashes together for a 60s ‘false lash’ look, for example). In my opinion, the 2000 Calorie really delivers here – it’s not a huge brush but you really get a volume boost on your lashes, well worth £7.99
Curved mascara wands can give you extra curl and lift, making eyes seem bigger and more open. The trick apparently is this: use the wand so that the curve faces upwards, and the lashes sit into the curve – sweep the wand from side to side across your lashes whilst pulling it upwards from the root to the tip to encourage your lashes to curl. Personally, I’m not a fan of this look, but it means you don’t have to faff about with eyelash curlers first (and Max factor also do a 2000 Calorie version with a curved brush.)
To me these just look weird, and I’ve not been able to master using one. They look like spiky balls and work like a comb wand to separate and define each lash. They are quite fiddly as you need to rotate the brush in all directions when applying, and I don’t feel you can really get to the base of your lashes for good coverage.
Most companies now also have ‘two-step’ mascaras that come with two different wands. I gave Max Factor Excess Volume Extreme (£12.99) a go to see if it’s twice as good as regular mascaras. It wasn’t.
Despite promising a ‘volumising base for excessively thick lashes and an intensifying lacquer for a polished jet black finish that seals in volume for all-day impact’, the reality was rather disappointing. The first brush is a comb wand (cue spidery lashes) and the second wand, a tapered brush, isn’t big or full enough to bring any oomph to the party.
I’ll leave you to find the right mascara for you but definitely urge you to give the original Max Factor 2000 Calorie a try. It’s fantastic value at £7.99 and I think delivers the 300% increase in lash volume the marketing blurb assures you will be yours (hardly an exact science, I know.) And as if by magic, look.co.uk have just posted Five tips to make your mascara flutter worthy with some advice on how to apply your mascara. Good luck!