Do Curling Mascaras Actually Work?

I have alopecia but managed to grow out my lashes with the help of Latisse. The problem: They grow straight down, instead of curling up and out of my eyes. posted on

Latisse is a miracle drug. It does, indeed, make your eyelashes grow to lengths you never thought possible. If you’re like me and have alopecia, hair loss caused by the body’s immune system attacking hair follicles for no reason, it’s especially helpful since it lets you grow out your eyelashes.

Before using Latisse, I had about a centimeter’s worth of lashes of average length in the middle of my eyelids. Latisse helped them grow in length by roughly a third and prompted more lashes to grow in on the sides.

Alas, all miracles come with a catch. The problem with Latisse is that it makes your impossibly long lashes grow straight down. Which means that, at some point, you will be able to see them. I almost went to my eye doctor because I thought I was seeing “floaters” (which are a sign of cataracts or possibly your eyes falling out or something similar) before I realized I was seeing my lashes. If you have one of those rare jobs where you stare at a computer all day, this becomes a problem. Curling them with a curler didn’t last all day for me. Enter: curling mascaras. Or at least, I hoped so. Do any of them actually curl your lashes? Or is it all a marketing scam invented by makeup companies? I decided to do find out.

First, I asked a beauty-editor friend at the Cut, who said:

“The real reason so-called ‘curling mascaras’ can defy gravity is because they’re loaded with polymers that form a synthetic tube around the base of each tiny lash. This acts as a support system — almost like a crutch — that keeps your lashes from falling as you brush them sky-high.”

Armed with that knowledge, I then went on various makeup company websites, searched for curling mascaras, and culled the ones that had good reviews/seemed the most interesting. I chose three drugstore, budget options and three fancier versions, all available at Sephora. So, which one actually worked?

ROUND 1: DRUGSTORE CONTENDERS

• Maybelline GreatLash (Curved Brush)
• Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Flared
• CoverGirl LashBlast Volume

Maybelline GreatLash – $6.99

The iconic, classic mascara also comes in a curling version. I figured this one has to have been around for so long for good reason, right?

Right-ish. It did curl my lashes, but they felt very spidery; the mascara didn’t add any thickness even though I loaded up on a couple coats.

Verdict: Mixed. If you’re looking for a cheap curling mascara, this will do that job. But beware of clumpy lashes.

Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Flared – $7.99

This mascara, as the extremely long name suggests, promised not only curls, but volume and additional length.

It only curled the very ends of my lashes, which is good news for those of you who have trouble getting that part of your lashes to curl, but didn’t really solve the problem of keeping them out of my eyes, which was a shame especially since it did add some volume and length. But it also felt very thick — like I was wearing too much makeup.

Verdict: Skip it. Doesn’t add much curl, is too heavy, and smells really weird.

P.S. Are you enjoying the strange purplish tint of my eyelids? You too can enjoy this if you start using Latisse. Hope you like wearing eyeliner!

P.P.S. Note that Latisse is not available over-the-counter, so talk with your doctor about potential side effects (like skin discoloration) before getting a prescription (also consider trying to get free samples, because shit’s expensive).

CoverGirl LashBlast Volume – $9.49

The Cut’s beauty editor recommended this one, but with a curler. That wasn’t quite the purpose of this experiment, so I decided to try it both ways.

The brush on this one looked weird (and looks pretty ugly once it’s got mascara on it), but I actually loved it a lot more than a traditional brush. You could put on a bunch of coats and not get a spidery or clumpy look. It added thickness and volume, but no curl. However, my lashes looked great after I went at them with a curler (far right).

Verdict: Mixed. It doesn’t curl, so if you don’t want to use a curler, skip it. If you do, this is the drugstore formula to go with, volume-wise.

ROUND 2: FANCIER CONTENDERS

• Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara
• Lancome Virtuose Black Carat Divine Lasting Curves (try saying that 5 times fast)
• Buxom Sculpted Lash

Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara – $16

The Clinique also came recommended. It had the curviest of the curved brushes, so I had high hopes.

Unfortunately, the very curvy brush means that the mascara clumps on it very easily. I had to wipe off a bunch from the end before I could apply it. Also unfortunately, it didn’t really curl my eyelashes. Though it did add good volume, some length the brush was SO curved that it was hard to apply it.

Verdict: Skip it. The brush just doesn’t work.

Lancôme Virtuose Black Carat Divine Lasting Curves – $26

Another one with a million words in the name, and also the most expensive of the bunch. I’ve had good luck with Lancôme products in the past, so I also had high expectations for this one.

It definitely added volume and pushed my lashes up and out, but the curl wasn’t as strong as the Maybelline GreatLash. However, I really loved they way this mascara looked overall. It made my lashes look so thick that I’d be able to skip my usual eyeliner with it.

Verdict: The curve is slight, but the look is really nice. If only it added just slightly more curl, this would be my favorite.

Buxom Sculpted Lash – $19

I chose this one solely for the crazy-ass brush. I had no idea how I was going to get it to work, but I knew I had to try.

Curled lashes on the right.

Upon closer inspection, this brush is similar to the CoverGirl mascara’s and not like a traditional brush. All brushes should be this kind of brush. The Buxom made it look like I had more, and thicker, lashes in a very natural way. It also had — cue angels singing — a decent curl.

Verdict: This is the one to get. It’s pretty reasonably priced and looks great on natural lashes (but even better with a curler).

WINNER: Buxom
WINNER #2: Lash curlers. No mascara will get you quite the same definition, but a good mascara will help you keep that curl all day.
LOSER: Maybelline Falsies

Alexandra Martell is an editor at Babble.com. In her spare times she scrolls through BuzzFeed’s lists about the ’90s and puppies. Follow her on Twitter or check out her website.

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