What’s the First Thing You Look for in a Mascara?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup

What's the first thing you look for in a mascara?

I was thinking about priorities yesterday while testing the new Cover Girl NatureLuxe Mascara ($9).


For the mascara’s mousse formula, CG says they used beeswax instead of the synthetic polymers they would have normally used. The wax is supposed to thicken lashes but keep them feeling light at the same time.

Sounds great, right? My lashes are naturally thin and mousy, so volume is my top priority when it comes to mascaras (with length coming in a close second).

I wore it for the day, even though I could tell right away that it probably wasn’t going to be the answer to my lash volumizing dreams. I love how lightweight and soft it feels on my fringe and how well it resists smudging, but it doesn’t deliver the kind of thickness I crave. Plus, it slightly relaxes the curl from my lash curler, which is a big no-go for me.

Before (top), and after two coats of Cover Girl NatureLuxe Mascara in Very Black (bottom)

What’s the first thing you look for in a mascara?

Is it lash volume/thickness, length, price, water resistance, curl hold, lash definition or maybe something else?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Brooke says:

    Mostly volume/ thickness & lash definition 🙂


    • Karen says:

      Thanks, boo! I’ve been using good ol’ dependable MAC Concrete eyeshadow applied with a 266 brush. Works like a charm!

      • Brooke says:

        You’re welcome 🙂
        Definitely gonna try Concrete, I’ve yet to find ‘The perfect brow filler’, I’m slightly obsessed with getting my brows perfect!

        • Karen says:

          Concrete’s great, especially if you have darker hair (lighter hair gals look fab in Omega).

          Also — have you ever tried Benefit’s Instant Brow? It’s pretty good too. Here’s a review, just in case you’re interested:


          • Brooke says:

            I have black/really dark brown hair so concrete should be perfect! 🙂

            I’ll give instant brow a go too, I always thought brow zing made my brows look too ‘done up’ so i avoided trying instant brow, but your review swayed me! thank you for the recommendations!

          • Karen says:

            I totally know what you mean! I know a lot of women love Brow Zing but on me it looked too Cruella de Vil, LOL!

          • Kaitlin says:

            I really love UD’s Brow Box! I’m pale and have blonde hair so I use the lightest box – I think it’s something with Honey in the name? Anyway, I’m getting lots of compliments on my brows – hurray!

            Oh, and I look for lash definition.

          • BooBooNinja says:

            I love your brows too! They are lush, groomed, and above all, *natural* looking. In fact, your brows drew me to your blog in the first place. I was looking for something to fill in my half-singed right eyebrow, and both brows are sparse to begin with!

            I use UD brow box in Beige Betty with Smashbox’s brow tech wax. It’s a bit light, but you are convincing me to try out MAC Concrete. I am NC 20/25, so Concrete may make my brows too stark.

            I’m on the hunt for a more portable alternative… perhaps Lioele’s automatic brow pencil in grey-black. I’ve been using Marcelle’s brow crayon in graphite when I’m on the go. It’s working out alright but not woo hoo! if you know what I mean.

            Okay, on to mascaras:
            I look for waterproof first, because they hold my curl and because my eyes water a lot in the morning. Because I’m not accustomed to makeup, I’m going for more of a natural look. Maybelline’s Define-A-Lash Lengthening Waterproof formula gives me long lashes that are clump free. It won’t give you the volume you desire, however.

            Last thing. (Sorry for writing so much.)
            Please keep up your Unsung Heroes posts. I’m learning a lot about from you!

      • Juji says:

        Concrete is now my daily go-to thanks to you, Karen! 🙂

  2. Krys says:

    Curl hold + volume and price! Any recommendations? 🙂

  3. laksh says:

    most important thing for me is that it doesnt smudge or flake and give me racoon eyes!

  4. slick says:

    For me its definition and then volume. My lashes are long but thin, and they naturally grow in all different directions which makes them primed for clumpage! I need a good wand that seperates along with a formula that can thicken without clumping. Lately I am really digging the new Maybelline One by One. It doesn’t have the best volume but the definition is amaaaazing. I also like MUFE Smoky Eyes/MAC Opulash/TF Lash Injection, which give me fantastic volume but with less definition and a minor amount of clumpage.

  5. Dee says:

    I look for lengthening, curl, and volume in a mascara. A non-flaking formula is also good. Btw, I tried the Avocado sauce on pasta last night, finally.LOL It was fabulous. Next time, I’ll eliminate the salt. It tasted better without it, to me.

    • Karen says:

      I’m glad you liked it! That sauce is really addictive. I always up the amount of lemon because I like it to taste “bright.” BTW, How much garlic did you put in it? I have the tendency to add too much… last time it was almost too garlicky, eek.

  6. BettyS says:

    Water resistance and volume. I’ve been happy with Make Up Forever’s Aqua Smoky Eyes.

  7. Pernille says:

    I look first at the brush. I’m clumsy and a too big brush will make me poke my eyes out. Next thing I look for is a formula that doesn’t give me panda eyes. I wear contacts and have a tendency to rub my eyes so it has to withstand a lot of abuse. I can care less about volume and length because I have found my HG mascara base from Dior that makes my sorry excuse for lashes look fabulous:-)

  8. Pamela says:

    I LOVE your reviews – keep them coming!! Kudos for the brow tips as well! I MUST have waterproof mascara! One that does it all and for years I have used L’Oreal Waterproof Lashout in Black. Recently I have not been able to find it which worries me. I wrote the company and haven’t heard back yet – but scored some on Ebay. I love it because it make my lashes longer, and thicker plus it is waterproof.
    I’m going to try the new BE FD Waterproof – but the price tag is pretty steep! Thanks again for your terrific ideas and for sharing with us!

  9. Nina says:

    Volume for sure! Also one w/ a non clumping, wont make my lashes stick together and look ike a broom formula!

  10. Fieran says:

    Non-clumping. I really don’t mind most mascaras as I have quite a bit of eyelashes and some natural curl, but when they clump up from mascara, I get a bit sad.

  11. kiwikiwidragon says:

    The first thing that I notice when trying new mascara is separation and ability to add volume to lashes. If it passes that test, the next one is: does it smudge under the eyes during normal wear? If so, i never use it again. I prefer the waterproof washable formulas that way if you tear up or out and out cry, it isn’t streaking down your face. I am totally hooked on L’Oreal’s Lash Tubes right now and my next go to was/is Avon’s waterproof washable. Neither smudge or flake. Plus with the short life of mascara, I never go high end. I was really digging the Lash Blast volume + length but after I found out about some potential upcoming losses and bad news, I needed mascara that could hold up with out being “waterproof” they still smudge and flake!! (i am looking at you, Million Lashes Waterproof!!)
    I was die hard Mary Kay Ultimate for many years, and with all the new brushes coming out, I couldn’t stand the old style brush it used that caused my lashes to stick together. I love all the spiky new brushes now. That mascara was the bomb for me, stupid crappy brush…..

  12. Claire says:

    I have super sensitive eyes, so anything that will NOT make my eyes itch is key. I actually love the NatureLuxe mascara- just switched to it from chanel inimitable intense for day wear… But I’ll probably need something with more oomph for nighttime.

    Karen, have you reviewed any lash growth serums before? Think it’s worth a try?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Claire,

      I know some people like them, but I haven’t tried/reviewed any because quite honestly, they freak me out. 🙁 I’d rather find a really good mascara, you know? I’ve also thought of getting lash extensions, but they seem really high maintenance.

  13. Heidi says:

    Volumizing without clumping is my first priority. My lashes are a fairly decent length and if we go too far with the lengthening, they rub against my glasses, and that’s annoying!

  14. Estava morioka says:

    The first thing I looks for is clumping. I hate clumping. I’d rather have short puny lashes that long clumpy ones. Then I go for length.

  15. Alex says:

    Probably volume/thickness, but also some nicer ingredients. I’ve had cheap drugstore mascara destroy my lashes, so I always make sure there are some friendly ingredients. Buxom Lash is amazing for that!

  16. Lacey says:

    I look for length! My lashes are itty bitty. They are super short. I wish I had my mama’s lashes (hers are amazing!). I am currently loving the Rimmel Day 2 Night mascara. My lashes have never looked better!
    Lacey recently posted … Review: Hard Candy Sheer Envy Primer

  17. Loubouholic says:

    Most important for me is water resistance. My eyes water like crazy (okay, I cry a lot haha) and my MAC mascara burns my eyes so bad when that happens even with the slightest moisture. I have yet to find a solution so now it just sits on my dresser. A VERY close second is volume/length. Any recommendations?

  18. Marian says:

    I look for a natural look and softness. I hatewhen my lashes feel crunchy. My favorite is Maybelline Full n Soft.

  19. volume & curl-holding power, for sure! my lashes are similar to yours (they’re not as long, though) so i always want to look like i have more.
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … MAC Semi-Precious Collection Mini Haul

  20. Chris25 says:

    I suppose volume and staying power for me. I have long lashes, but they are a little on the thin side. I like some extra “oomph” from my mascara. Almay One Coat isn’t waterproof, but it does a great job of holding up during rainy days when i’ve forgotten my umbrella (an occurence that is frequent).

  21. snoopysteph says:

    I look for volume, no clumping or flaking. My all time favorite is Dior Extase – I can even sleep with it on & not have raccoon eyes the next morning!

  22. Trisha says:

    I want my mascara to be…

    1. Noticeable
    2. Non-clumping.

    Those are the biggest things.
    Trisha recently posted … A Blog-Award Tag

  23. Amy says:

    I look for several things. Definitely the brush. Have to make sure there’s not going to be any clumping (so many say no clumping, but there are a bunch that do not, for instance tarte’s amazonian clay and their lights camera lashes). I also find that by using a lash primer it makes a huge difference

  24. becca says:

    NO raccoon eyes!

  25. gio says:

    Mostly volume and price.
    gio recently posted … QOTW: Are You An Impulse Beauty Buyer?

  26. Marieke says:

    The brush! I’m still looking for the brush that looks the same as my favourite. My fave got discontinued and I couldn’t find a back-up in time! 🙁
    For me, volume equals big brushes and spider lashes. I prefer length and then build up the volume by adding an extra layer.

  27. Kaitie says:

    I have been blessed/cursed with ultra long thick lashes, I’m talking I have to trim them with nail scissors because they get so long they hit the back sides of my sunglasses. I haven’t yet found a mascara that lasts through a ballet class and will hold any kind of curl. Any suggestions?

  28. Pamela says:

    Well Katie – I do NOT have a good recommendation for a mascara for you but I AM willing to offer up an “eyelash transplant”! My sad thin eyelashes for yours! What do you say?

    • terry says:

      LOL Pamela I loooooooove your comment…!! Kaitie you really have no idea what us poor wankers do to have longer and thicker lashes haha.

  29. artemis says:

    i like them to be big and thick, don’t care about clumping, i’ll get that anyway because my lashes are lil and i apply a lot

  30. Jen says:

    Firstly? The brush. I can’t handle a mascara brush that is straight. I like it Curved baby!

    And then it must have a drier formula because I like big thick lashes. I HATE Diotshow for this reason. It takes forever to get even the tiniest of volume. Give me curves and clumps anyday!

  31. Stephanie says:

    Curl hold all the way!!

  32. Ashley says:

    1) Price
    2) Waterproof/Smudgeproof
    3) Volume
    4) Must hold curl!!

    Brush & formula must revolve around my list of needs of course. Am I asking for too much? Nahh

  33. Wehkwas says:

    It’s actually the brush that I notice first about mascaras. All I really want is a plain bristle brush, something like Loreal’s Voluminous. I tend to stay away from humungous brushes, or anything with rubbery spikes. Too big to manoeuvre and pokes my upper tight-line. Ouch!

  34. NeenaJ says:

    1. Ability to withstand humidity and sweat without giving me raccoon eyes.
    2. Ability to hold the my Shu curl.
    3. Volumizing without clumping.
    4. Price.

    I like Rimmel Glam Eyes but not when you first open it. It’s perfect once I let it dry out for a week or two (otherwise it’s too wet and fails #2). Also, it’s easy to remove with regular makeup remover, so it’s my goto during the week.

    For when I’m willing to break out the jojoba oil to remove a waterproof product, I like Maybelline Full n Soft Waterproof formula. Holds a curl like no other and I’ve never had a clump.

    I’m keen to try the Buxom original formula, but I’m too cheap to fork over $$ for a mascara. I would likely try one of the Japanese drug store brands first.

  35. kayla says:

    i have long lashes, so i want volume but without the clump, but at the same time natural looking lashes. i love one by one mascara in the waterproof formula. it’s exactly what i’ve been looking for.

  36. Jennifer says:

    Did you ever try Maybelline Falsies? I am in love with their mascara and will NEVER go back to expensive mascara or any other drugstore besides them 🙂

  37. Wendy says:

    Volume all the way. I’m in love with Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes. It makes me look foxy!
    Wendy recently posted … 47/365 Days of Makeup

  38. Kerry says:

    Separation, curl hold and black-ness.
    I’m using Mabelline The Falsies Waterproof at the moment. Fits the bill nicely, but it is a mother trucker to try and get off at night.

  39. Alka says:

    First and foremost the mascara can not irritate my extremely sensitive eyes, then I prefer my mascara to feel natural not crunchy. I have curly, long lashes as it is so I really just need a bit of definition and volume at the base. In fact I can skip mascara altogether if my allergies are acting up and not really notice that big a difference in my regular daytime look. I also consider price a big factor since I probably only wear mascara 3x/week, I end up throwing away almost full tubes of the stuff after 3months.

  40. Maria says:

    Curl hold! My Asian lashes can’t stay curled with some mascaras, after curl it’s volume and thickness 😀

  41. Krupa patel says:

    i already have long, curly lashes

    all I want/need is volume/thickness with definition!

  42. Evelyn says:

    Hey, this is my first post and I’m kinda nervous! How silly lol. I’m a massive fan of the blog and have been obessively refreshing my google reader to see if there are new posts for the last couple of weeks 🙂 LOVE!

    I definitely look for volume and a little extra length. I’m blessed because I found my HG mascara about 8 years ago and have never purchased anything else since – it’s Diorshow in Black. It’s thick and creamy and stays put for hours. The waterproof version is alright but it’s a little more watery/glossy so you don’t get the real oomph of the non-waterproof one. I personally love the massive mascara brush it comes with because you can get right down into the roots, but the brush is the one thing I have heard other people complain about because it can be a little unweildly.

    Phew, there, first comment done. That wasn’t so hard 🙂

  43. Sharon says:

    Volume and stayability! My lashes are fairly long; there just aren’t that many of them (my nickname was “Winky” as a little child, because my lashes were so long comparatively) so something that gives decent volume is key. And the mascara must not flake off or smudge — if it does I don’t buy it again. Right now my favourite is Lancome’s Definicils for everyday and Hypnose for going out.

  44. Patrice says:

    No smudge! Mascaras tend to leave me with raccoon eyes so this is key for me. Then I care the most about lash definition. Great question!

  45. Rosie says:

    MUST Hold Curl!!! and be waterproof. I am liking Maybelline falsies but it’s almost run out. Must buy new tube!!

  46. Olivia T. says:

    I look for something that says it wont deliver clumps and isnt too watery! Watery= clumps, clumps= bad, bad=uh-oh…

  47. meibaola says:

    It has to be recommended for sensitive eyes, I don’t tolerate mascaras that aren’t very much. For this reason I have been wearing Clinique mascaras for years, my favourite being the High Impact *hearts*

  48. Kim says:

    Volume, volume, volume! 🙂

  49. Melissa says:

    I want length! I use the loreal telescopic and it is fabulous! The brush is different, thin, and that is the key.


  50. Melissa says:

    Also, eyelash curler is essential!

  51. Trude says:

    I’d say volume, since my lashes are plenty long by themselves (so much so that I don’t typically wear mascara on the bottom because they look like creepy spider legs). But also non-clumpiness, if that counts as a quality? My latest awesome combo is Korres’ Rice Bran mascara plus a coat of YSL Faucils on top of that (got a free sample thanks my Sephora Insider card, woot!). They look like strip lashes now, in the best way possible! 🙂
    Trude recently posted … Siblings & Cake

  52. Aileen Tay-Lee says:

    I feel like I’ve tried EVERY mascara out there and I’m still on the hunt for “the one.” Since I have thin, straight eyelashes, I really want a mascara that will give me the dramatic, false eyelash look. And of course, at the same time, a mascara that curls my lashes (and holds the curl), defines my lashes, and last all day long in this hot and humid South Florida weather I live in. Do you a few recommendations in the $15-$30 price range? I know you’re super busy, but I’d appreciate a response! 🙂

  53. Stef Smith says:

    I really like this mascara! It stays on forever, and I don’t use makeup remover, just Cetaphil. I think the beeswax makes it last so long, and natural is always good in my book!

  54. Serena says:

    My biggest priority is NO CLUMPS. Then, length + volume. 🙂

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