Everyone has a parent or school teacher who informed their beauty look. Mine was my English teacher, Mrs W. Not to imply that I liked her — in fact quite the opposite and the feeling was mutual. I couldn’t follow the tasks or concentrate, I didn’t read the books on her pre-assigned list. She would frequently make an example of ten-year-old me, ticking me off in her highly theatrical manner — full of dramatic pauses and randomly shouting certain words to emphasise what a disappointment I was. (“Typical!”)
But as it happens we had one thing in common: a shared a love of mascara. She wore it every day without fail, her upper and lower lids brimming with clumpy black pigment. During those daily verbal assassinations, she had a habit of staring heavenward and fluttering her eyelashes at the end of each sentence — the spidery legs of her lashes dancing manically, as the whites of her eyes flashed in and out of focus. She also had a silver tooth which would glint whenever she smiled at someone (never me). As Disney villain-esque as it sounds, there was something nonetheless fascinating about her penchant for lashings of mascara which triggered my curiosity (unlike the Tolkien books she tried to force me to read.)
When my mum eventually let me wear mascara a few years later, I was awestruck by how different I looked — as I stared into the mirror and saw this more grown-up version of me staring back. Hence a lifelong mascara obsession was born, which led to my road-testing them for a living (and eventually writing this column you’re reading).
My personal all-time favourite was Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir which to my utter dismay has been discontinued (Why? It smelled of roses too…). But thankfully there are others which come a close second. If it’s length you’re after, then a tubing mascara is your best bet. These create tube-like polymers around each lash to ‘build’ the length — and better still, they wash off easily with warm water. Add some flutter with Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara (£29).
For real curl impact, Benefit’s Roller Lash (£24.50) is hard to beat but can be quite fiddly to remove unless you have a proper eye makeup remover. (I prefer a mascara that can easily wash off with cleanser.) And for a waterproof formula under a tenner, Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara 01 Black (£9.49) delivers a decent flutter without feeling heavy or clumpy.
Lashes a little lacklustre? Give them a growth boost with Revitalash’s Double-Ended Volume Set (£35), which comes with a primer at one end to build length, with a normal mascara at the other to add definition. And YSL’s new wonderfully named Lash Clash (£29) boasts an oil-in-water wax formula, hyper-black pigments and smudge-resistant boosters to really take your lashes to the next level. Mrs W would have approved. (Although given my track record, probably not…).