An Easy Guide To Finding Your Perfect Mascara Brush

We hate to break it to you, but few things in beauty are one-size-fits-all. Sure, your mother may claim that pricey serum erased her lines, and your best friend swears by that frizzy-hair treatment in the summer, but that doesn't mean either of those will work for you. After all, we're all special little snowflakes with unique beauty needs.

One category about which people are particularly, well, particular? Mascara. And according to many experts, it's all about the wand. "Mascaras are actually incredibly complex," says Victoria Fraser, PhD, CoverGirl's principal scientist for Global Scientific Communications. "Just changing the bristle pattern determines how the lashes pass through...and can translate to different end looks." That's why we decided to get the inside scoop on just about every type of mascara wand on the market from Dr. Fraser and professional makeup artist Elisa Flowers.

Ahead, check out the definitive guide to finding your personal wonder-wand.
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Nylon-Bristle Brush

Best For:
Volume and layering

How It Works: Your first mascara likely had a nylon-bristle brush — they're everywhere. "These are best suited for most lash types and anyone looking for longer lashes," says Flowers. The bristles on nylon brushes tend to be numerous and close together, making it easier to deposit dense amounts of product for volume and lift. Because of how lightweight the bristles are, these brushes are ideal for layering throughout the day as they are less likely to snag on your lashes.

Try: This L'Oréal mascara is a classic for a reason: The brush makes it easy to comb the thick, jet-black formula through your lashes over and over again without any clumps.

L'Oréal Voluminous Original Mascara, $5.59, available at Target.
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Plastic-Bristle Brush

Best For:
Length and separation

How It Works: Plastic bristles are great for clump-free, perfectly defined lashes. "[These] are molded from plastic, which allows for great precision on the bristle arrangement," says Dr. Fraser. "This means you tend to get the highest level of lash separation." Plastic wands are also designed to coat each lash. "The result is dramatic lashes with length and definition," says Flowers.

Try: CoverGirl's Clump Crusher Mascara not only does exactly what the name suggests, but the curved shape of the wand helps lift your lashes if you feel like skipping the eyelash curler.

CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher, $6.99, available at Target.
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Traditional, Straight Brush

Best For: Natural-looking length and separation

How It Works: According to Flowers, straight mascara wands work well for every lash type and are a great option for beginners. "They emphasize length, softness, and separation by elongating, taming, and stretching each lash from root to tip," she says.

Try: Flowers loves Lancôme's Définicils High Definition Mascara because of its ability to create a subtle, yet fluttery, effect.

Lancôme Définicils High Definition Mascara, $27.50, available at Lancôme.
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Curved Brush

Best For: Curling

How It Works: Curved brushes are designed to follow the natural shape of the eye. "The brush lifts lashes in [an upward] direction to achieve a soft curl with volume and definition," says Flowers.

Try: Dior's Overcurl mascara was inspired by curling irons — you know, the kind for hair — but it takes heat out of the equation. Plus, the tapered end of the brush makes it easy to grab those hard-to-get lashes hanging out in the corners.

Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara, $29.50, available at Sephora.
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Orb Brush

Best For:
Precision

How It Works: They're hard to find, but orb brushes are a great option for lash perfectionists. "Features on the end of a brush, such as an orbit covered in bristles, can be used to access small and difficult lashes, such as inner-corner and bottom lashes," says Dr. Fraser.

Try: Givenchy's Phenomen'Eyes Mascara has a teeny orb at the end that can be used to apply product to small areas of your lashline. For a slightly faster approach, reach for a brush that has an orb on top of a traditional brush, like Benefit's They're Real!.

Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes Mascara, $32, available at Sephora.
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Flexible Brush

Best For: Customization

How It Works: "Flexible wands pivot and bend into straight or curved shapes, adding comfort and customization to your mascara application," says Flowers. "These wands are designed to help you curl and coat every lash without obstructing your view."

Try: In the mood for a straight brush one day, but a curved one the next? MAC's Pro Beyond Twisted Lash Mascara has a bendable wand that makes it easy to customize the wand to your every need.

MAC Pro Beyond Twisted Lash Mascara, $23, available at MAC.
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