Zeroing in on a dream mascara can be a years-long quest. First, you have to figure out which type of formula — from ultra-slick to thick-and-volumizing — best suits you. Then it’s about finding said formula paired with the type of brush you're after — from ball-tipped to curved, bristle-free to corkscrew — because there is a vast array of options. Needle in a haystack, people. But the best new mascara may be one that you’ve never dreamed of using: a solid “cake” formulation that allows you to control consistency and pair it with the best brush. The concept may seem foreign to us, but cake mascaras were mainstream in the 1920s; they helped stars like Greta Garbo lock in her famous gaze. And now they've been reintroduced by Bésame Cosmetics, the vintage-inspired makeup line known for bringing back classic forms of makeup such as mixing powders. It’s a hell of a comeback: The release is already sold out at Sephora (but you can still snag it on the brand’s site).
Exactly how do you apply precise, clump-free mascara on wispy lashes when that mascara comes in the form of a brick? It works in the same way watercolors do: After a drop of water is added to the pan, the formula is converted into a paintable consistency. (Add a touch more water for a slicker formula or less for something more thick.) Though Bésame Cake Mascara comes bundled with the kind of brush that Maybelline used back in the day for its version of mascara (it looks like a mini toothbrush), the brand sells other wands to match your personal bristle (or bristle-free) preference. Cake mascara also trumps tubes when it comes to cleanliness. When you use freshly cleaned wands, it doesn’t harbor bacteria like our favorite tubes can — which means cake can keep way past most mascaras’ six-month shelf life. Of course, a pan of cake mascara may not last quite that long — the versatile product happens to make for a mean liquid eyeliner and brow filler, too.