After extensive (and expensive) trial and error, I’ve narrowed down the universe of mascaras that hold a curl the best. Hint: They’re not Chanel, Dior, Lancôme, Fiberwig, Josie Maran, Revlon, . . . I could go on. Even mascaras that specifically claim to hold a curl cannot always pass my stringent test.
Maybe I’m asking for too much. I rely on my mascara to lift my hooded eyelids, which sliiiightly enlarges my eyes (relatively speaking; no one’s going to mistake me for a tarsier).
Well anyway, if these work for me, they will surely work for ordinary lash-glamming needs.
I apply these in the morning (and then top with Anastasia Lash Genius) and the curl lasts all day. No need to re-curl lashes or use a heated lash curler.
1. Urban Decay Cannonball Ultra Waterproof Mascara
This lengthens and defines well, but doesn’t add much volume despite the inclusion of tiny fibers. Nonetheless, this is my go-to mascara on most days because the short bristles and lighter consistency make for a neater application on both top and bottom lashes.
2. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara
The wand on this has rows of long bristles alternating with rows of shallow bristles, which act as a reservoir of product. (You can see the different lengths in the pic above.) Typically, I apply a light coat using the long bristles. And then I apply another coat at the base by wiggling or stamping the shallow bristles into the roots to add volume. The downside is that sometimes the brush applies too much product and the overall large, bushy shape makes application to the lower lashes messy.
3. Mally Waterproof Volumizing Mascara
When I first used this, I thought its volumizing claim was ridiculous because the formula was so thin. But after a few more tries (and more exposure to air), the formula thickens up and is actually fairly volumizing. The larger brush shape makes application to the lower lashes tricky.
4. K-Palette 1 Day Keep Base
This is a primer that goes on clear with tiny fibers. I liken it to hairspray or hair gel for lashes: it just freezes your lashes in place. After letting it dry, apply mascara over it. This product enables you to use up all of your non-curl-holding mascaras. I stopped using Keep Base because I grew impatient with the two-step process and because I would clump up my lashes if I wasn’t careful to comb them at each step or applied Keep Base too heavily. Combing out clumps cleanly can be difficult since the Keep Base has such a strong hold.
Oddly, K-Palette’s 1 Day Lash Perm mascara–which I’m wearing over Keep Base below–does not hold a curl. If K-Palette would just make Keep Base in black, that would be a real winner.
Update: Here are my eyes without mascara or curling lashes.
Everything in action:
As I was putting this collage together, I realized that my mascara looks the same in all of them. Maybe the Stila one looks a little longer and volumized than the others. Argh. It’s probably because I comb through my lashes thoroughly with a metal lash comb, taking off excess mascara.
- Always curl lashes before mascara.
- Use a waterproof mascara, which will have more curl-holding waxes in the formula.
- Make the initial coat of mascara light, and let it dry before adding more. Too much mascara at once can weigh down lashes, and too much brushing through while the lashes are still wet can undo the curl.
- If you have hooded eyelids, look downwards into your mirror while applying and waiting for the mascara to dry. Not only does this prevent smudges on the lids, it also allows time for the mascara to lock the curl in place without interference from your lids weighing on your lashes.
- Comb out clumps in an upward direction (towards your brows). Go slowly though because this risks poking your eyeball more than combing downwards. (My recommended mascaras are so good that I often comb downwards with no ill effects on the curl.)