Mascara can be hit and miss. You might have found one that lengthens perfectly or volumises even the tiniest of lashes but does it withhold smudging, promise a flake-free finish and remove easily? There are hundreds of mascaras out there but a quick poll of friends and colleagues shows that not many of us can say we've found a winning formula – the product you can't imagine your makeup bag without, or dread one day being discontinued (it happens!).
Despite the huge variety of mascaras on the market right now (from the clever ones that come off with just water to versions filled to bursting with lash-conditioning ingredients such as vitamin E and shea butter), beauty editors and makeup artists all keep the same secret: high street mascara is unrivalled. Having worked in the beauty industry for years, I've tried countless high end brands and buzzy new formulas and seen expensive products propelled to viral status on TikTok, but nothing has impressed me quite like L’Oréal's Castor Oil-Enriched Paradise Volumising Mascara, £11.99.
As a beauty editor whose job it is to sort the 'amazing' from the 'alright', my makeup bag is home to more than five different mascaras at once, but I've found myself reaching for this one every morning since it landed on my desk not long ago. Why? It does everything a good quality mascara should and all for under £12. I'll start with the brush, which is made of tens of tiny bristles. Usually, I prefer plastic teeth to separate each and every lash but this does so in one single swoop without clumps or depositing too much product. The way the bristles are packed in provides instant volume that's fluffy and natural, and I'm always surprised by how well I can achieve a dramatic lash look by layering up. My lashes are poker straight but I don't need to use an eyelash curler with this. Somehow, it lifts as it thickens
Now onto the product itself. The worst thing about buying a new mascara is that it's too 'wet' the first time you use it. Everyone knows mascara gets better as it dries out, right? But this is perfect from the get-go. A lot of mascaras make lashes feel dry and brittle, too, however this is packed with nourishing castor oil, which conditions hairs. You might have heard that the ingredient helps improve lash growth and thickness. Unfortunately, the evidence is lacking and many experts don't agree. So while castor oil is unlikely to make scant lashes multiply (try a lash serum instead), it does mean you don't get rock hard, crispy-feeling lashes. Although the formula isn't waterproof, I'm convinced the oils help repel water and sweat, because it doesn't budge – not even after a sweaty run outdoors.
Mascara can be a faff to remove but this is a dream. A quick swipe of micellar water or any face cleanser cuts through the product without the need to scrub, so I never emerge from the shower with racoon eyes. Reviewers also rate it for being suitable for sensitive eyes which may become red, irritated or itchy throughout the day depending on the formula and its ingredients. Unlike many social media-famous mascaras, this one isn't so elusive. You can get it at Lookfantastic, Boots, Superdrug and Amazon (where it's currently on offer for £5.49).
If you'd rather spend less, I also rate the Essence Lash Princess Volume Mascara, £3.30, which is nothing short of an absolute bargain. Though the waterproof version has gone viral on TikTok, I much prefer this one for applying and removing more easily, plus it doesn't smudge. If you're looking to splurge? I like the Victoria Beckham Beauty Future Lash Mascara, £26, which boasts 'tubing' technology to define lashes in one go and slips off with just water, or the Instagram-worthy Christian Louboutin Khol Mascara, £55, which volumises, lengthens and lifts even the tiniest of lashes. The gilt packaging alone is worth the price tag.
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