Ultimate Mascara Challenge

We put tons of everyday, lengthening, curling, and wow! mascaras to the challenge for our Ultimate Mascara Challenge. The verdict? The only eight you'll ever need to buy.


karla gonzalez before mascara application
Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Karla Gonzalez, Before

Karla's beauty stats: 35; brown eyes; long, thick dark brown hair; oily skin; naturally long, thick eyelashes

Beauty secret: "I blow out my lashes with a hair dryer after putting on my mascara to get them to fan out and widen my eyes."

Karla has gorgeously long lashes, but her oily skin causes problems with mascara flaking and giving her "raccoon eyes" by the end of the day. She's always looking for a good everyday mascara, and she usually goes for Clinique, because of its hypoallergenic mascaras, or Rimmel's Sexy Curves, which helps her achieve the fanned-out effect she loves.

karla gonzalez after her mascara application
Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Karla Gonzalez, After

Because Karla is naturally endowed in the lash department, we thought a thickening formula would be too much for everyday wear. We chose Fresh Supernova as a great full-coverage mascara for her lashes.

"Wow! I love them!" Karla said about her lashes after our makeup artist, Marni, applied her mascara. "They're so open — like a fan!"

The Verdict: Fresh Supernova Mascara

Karla calls this product "fantastic." She says that for the first time, she’s had no smudging or flakiness after wearing her mascara all day. "By the end of day, my eyelashes looked as fresh and open as when the mascara was first applied. I swapped out my old mascara at the end of the day when I saw my lashes looked normal and didn't have me looking like Alice Cooper. My new mascara glides on easily and doesn’t have a heavy, glued look...I love it!"

To buy: $26; barneys.com

Buy it now!

eva karagiorgas before her mascara application
Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Eva Karagiorgas, Before

Eva's beauty stats: 29, brown eyes; medium-length, thick wavy brown/black hair; combination/oily skin; short, thin lashes

Beauty tip: Eva uses Indian kohl eyeliner when she wants to make her eyes pop, but uses her fingers to smudge it: "Fingers are the best smudging tools."

Eva's ideal mascara is one that will give her long, thick lashes, "like Kim Kardashian!"

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Eva Karagiorgas, After

"It really makes my lashes stand out!" Eva said. "They're nicely separated and look a lot longer!"

The Verdict: CoverGirl LashBlast Length Mascara

Eva liked how smooth and easily this mascara went on, and loved that it didn't feel heavy or thick. "It didn't weigh down my lashes — it coated them without making them feel too heavy."

To buy: $6.59; target.com

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Erin Toland, Before

Erin's beauty stats: 30; fair skin with a normal complexion; long strawberry blonde hair; short, light-colored lashes

Beauty secret: Uses hemorrhoid cream under her eyes to reduce puffiness

"I usually go for a minimal makeup look, with light face powder and concealer." Because of her naturally short lashes, she tends to choose mascaras that promise to lengthen and thicken.

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Erin Toland, After

We thought that an everyday mascara, Shu Uemura's Basic Brown, would best compliment Erin's fair complexion and light-colored lashes. Her reaction?

"I've never used brown mascara before — but I love it!"

The Verdict: Shu Uemura Ultimate Natural Mascara

Erin loved the color of the mascara and found it perfect for daytime use.

"It was definitely still intact by the end of the day — even after the gym, it didn't budge! I've never really considered wearing a brown mascara, but I totally love it! It goes with my coloring, and it's a perfect daytime alternative to black."

To buy: $28; shuuemrua-usa.com

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Sandi Getbamrungrat, Before

Sandi's beauty stats: 28; short, black hair; dark brown eyes; normal complexion; short, naturally thin Asian lashes

Sandi usually goes without mascara because making her short, thin lashes look longer and thicker takes more time than she's willing to spend putting on makeup.

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Sandi Getbamrungrat, After

Our makeup artist, Marni, really loved the wand of the Clinique High Impact Curling mascara we tried out on Sandi. "I can actually see this curling the lashes — wow!" she said.

Our editors were equally impressed. "Her eyes are really popping out — the lashes look eight million times longer!" one exclaimed.

As for Sandi: "Oh yeah! — I actually have lashes today!"

The Verdict: Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara

Sandi loved how her mascara adhered to her naturally short lashes. "It stayed on all day and didn’t smudge or give me raccoon eyes!"

To buy: $16; clinique.com

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Meliqué Birks, Before

Meliqué's beauty stats: 25; normal skin tone; dark hair and eyes, but uses blue-colored contacts; naturally curly African American lashes

We covet Meliqué's beautiful curly lashes; however, her ideal product would give her length too.

"On a normal day, I usually won't use mascara. I'll put on eye shadow, eyeliner, and lip gloss. But I don't really know a lot about makeup or how to put it on, so I'm very eager to learn how to best use these products!"

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Meliqué Birks, After

Meliqué tried one of our wow! mascaras, the MAC Plush Lash. Marni loved the wand, calling the brush "luxurious" and "great for separating the lashes."

Meliqué had high praise as well: "I don't want to take this off!"

The Verdict: M·A·C Plush Lash Mascara

Meliqué absolutely loved the mascara. "My eyelashes looked beautiful," she said. "I was more than satisfied with the results. I don’t remember ever seeing my eyelashes that long after applying mascara, and by the end of the day, they still looked great! I would definitely purchase M·A·C mascara in the future and even used it the next day after the challenge."

To buy: $16; nordstrom.com

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Vanessa Bronfman, Before

Vanessa's beauty stats: 20s; naturally curly, long, dark brown hair; brown eyes; olive skin with a normal complexion; natural curl to lashes

Beauty secrets: "My one swear-by product: Palmer's Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick for Lips. It's amazing. Another thing I love to do is put a cup or so of mayonnaise in my hair to really soften it. I do this about four times a year, usually when the seasons change, because my hair tends to get dry around those times. I leave it in all night, shampoo it out the next day, and it's sooo soft and smooth!"

"In terms of makeup though: I'm not usually very concerned with it. I kinda just like to roll out of bed and go. I'm the kind that puts on mascara as I'm walking down the street."

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Vanessa Bronfman, After

We tried another wow! mascara on Vanessa, the L'Oréal Original Voluminous mascara. Our makeup artist, Marni, called this mascara the kind that "gives you lashes that make a breeze when you blink!"

"This is crazy," Vanessa said. "They don't even look real!"

The Verdict: L'Oréal Original Voluminous Mascara

"This mascara made my eyelashes look so long and luscious and pretty!" Vanessa said. "It didn't flake or smudge at all throughout the day. I love this mascara and will definitely be buying it in the future!"

To buy: $7.29; lorealparisusa.com

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Abbe Wright, Before

Abbe's beauty stats: 24; blue eyes; light brown hair with natural dark blonde streaks; fair skin with an oily complexion; naturally long lashes

Beauty secrets: "I believe in using makeup to play up what you have. I really love my eyes, so I use eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara to enhance and bring them out. Your face is the first thing you put forward to the world, so it's great when you can use makeup to show off your personality."

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Abbe Wright, After

We used the Flirt! It Curl mascara in brown to give some curl to Abbe's naturally long, light-colored lashes and balance out her fair skin. The result? "Ohmygod!" and "Amazing!" were among the high praises this mascara heard from our editors.

"I love it — wow!" Abbe said. "It's easy and dramatic...which is perfect for me! I look great!"

The Verdict: Flirt! It Curl Mascara

Abbe loved that it played up her eyes like she wanted. "It definitely had that wow factor I was looking for. So many people asked me if I had eyelash extensions on and were shocked when I told them they were mine! This mascara really brought out just how long my lashes are, which I never seem to get with my current mascara. It also has the curling element, which I love." She was also a huge fan of the color; "the chocolate brown color was more natural than a jet-black."

Her Mascara Challenge take-away: "I learned you don't need eyeliner or even any shadow to make your eyes pop. That with a great mascara, it can be enough for a great daytime look."

To buy:$15; kohls.com

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Nina Laing, Before

Nina's beauty stats: 30; black American; naturally thick, curly black hair; brown eyes; medium-toned, lightly freckled, clear skin; short, thin lashes

Beauty secret: "I love Paul Mitchell The Conditioner. It's absolutely the best for my hair, which tends to be kinda thick and poufy. It's a leave-in conditioner that doesn't make my hair hard and defines without making it sticky."

"My main makeup problem is that all my makeup runs (even waterproof!), so although I'd love some va-va-va-voom from my mascara, I am worried about getting raccoon eyes. For makeup, I usually just use foundation mixed with moisturizer, highlighter under my brows, and lip gloss, but I'd love a mascara that gives me more volume."

Sarra Fleur Abou-El-Haj/Studio D
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Nina Laing, After

We love the way the Lancôme Definicils lengthening mascara enhanced and lengthened Nina's lashes.

"You can really see my lashes!" Nina said. "This mascara truly makes the difference."

The Verdict: Lancôme Definicils Mascara

Nina loved that this mascara didn't melt off her face. "I liked it both after a few hours and at the end of the day. I've been wearing it daily since the shoot, and I really like how it looks — and that it doesn't fade! I would definitely buy it in the future."

To buy: $27; lancomeusa.com