Please write:
Return to Page One
Register here to receive Fashion Finds
email updates!

By Darcy Meadows

In the year 2000, can you believe we're still looking for the right mascara to make our lashes more luscious?

The many "voluminous" mascara lines, of course, all claim to be the best product -- to make the best out of the lashes we are stuck with.

Which ones are the best?

We at Fashion Finds decided to test four popular brands: two drug store brands -- L'Oreal's "Voluminous," (their campaign claims "Voluminous" will give us "3X Fuller Lashes"), and Revlon's "Lashfull" mascara (the Revlon campaign claims "Lashfull" will "Power-thicken lashes up to 3 times their size"). We included two department store brands as well: Clinique's "Full Potential" and Lancome's "Magnificels."

As always, I rounded up my "guinea pigs" for the task (don't forget, Fashion Finds doesn't fool around -- we do real tests using real subjects, and give you the voluminous results!).

I called on my friends Heather, Tey, and Amy. I was the fourth subject to offer my opinions.

Heather was a great choice to try some of these products, because she is very sensitive to cosmetics; her allergies influencing most of her consumer decisions. Heather has a fair complexion, freckles, and has mostly dry skin.

Tey was another interesting person to use as a test subject, because she very rarely wears cosmetics. Additionally, Tey wears contacts, great for our testing. People with contacts will often complain about irritation caused by cosmetic products, especially mascara. Tey has an oily skin type, and a fair complexion.

Amy is a wonderfully honest person. She will get right in your face if she has something to say, and in my daily life, I tend to surround myself with people like her. They make the world a much easier place to dwell in. Definitely, in an article needing honest opinions, Amy is an asset! She is also rather busy with her young daughter and her demanding job. Amy doesn't put too much effort into the cosmetic department. It is important to her, but she won't pay an extra ten bucks for a product just because it has "the important name" on the container. Amy, too, has a fair complexion with a combination skin type.

The last subject was me. I, too, am pretty vocal about what I like and don't like. Contrary to the other ladies, I have always paid attention to mascara lines, because I need to play up the lashes as well as I possibly can. I have a combination skin type -- normally dry, but oily through the T-zone. I have a light tan complexion.

For the test, I instructed each woman to purchase each brand of the above-mentioned mascara lines. I then had them use each product for several days, to see how each brand fared, and if they did indeed make their lashes seem fuller and more eye-catching. I made sure they wore these products while performing a wide range of tasks, to test the overall usefulness of the products. It's great if a mascara makes your lashes look fuller, but mascara is not so user-friendly if it smudges every time you turn around.

Last, I had the test subjects give detailed opinions of each product, commenting on the consistency, the smudge-proof aspect, the "fuller lashes" aspect, etc., and to grade them according to the criteria.

Before giving you the results, I thought it would be interesting to ask a scientist -- a top chemist -- to look at the contents and make some observations. Here, in small type to avoid spinning-eye syndrome, are the contents of each product:

Ingredients for Lancome "Magnificels": Water, paraffin, steric acid, cyclopentasiloxane, carnauba wax, beeswax, acacia senegal, triethanolamine, hydrooxyethylcellulose, dimenticonol, dimethicone copolyol, aminomethyl propanediol, panthenol, sodium polymethacrylate, methylparaben, simethicone, polyquaternium 10, May contain: iron oxides, chromium hydroxide green, ultamarines, chromium oxide greens, 1,685

Ingredients for L'Oreal "Voluminous": Water, paraffin, cyclomethicone, stearic acid, beeswax/cire d'abeille, triethanolamine, acacia, carnauba wax, dimethiconol, 2-oleamido-1,3-octadecanediol, hydroxyethylcellulose, sodium polymethacrylate, pathenol, imidazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, ethoxydiglycol, propylparaben, simethicone, polyquaternium-10. May contain: iron oxides, titanium dioxide, ultramarines, 1459 (CP)

Ingredients for Clinique "Full-Potential" water (aqua purificata), carnauba, silica, glyceryl stearate, steric acid, polybutene, oleic acid, acrylates copolymer, pvp, beeswax (cera alba), aminomethyl propanediol, lauroyl lysine, pantethine, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, simethicone, hydroxyethylcellucose, propylene glycol, trisodium edta, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben,butylparaben, titanium dioxide.

Ingredients for Revlon "Lashfull Mascara": Water, paraffin, cyclomethicone, tea - stearate, polyethylene, beeswax, carnauba, glycerin stearate, tricontanyl PVP, glycerin, diglycol/ cyclohexanedimethanol/ isophthalates/sulfoisophthalates copolymer, acacia gum stearic acid, yeast glycoprotein, hydrolyzed keratin, silk powder, panthenol, tocopherol, chitin extract, dimethiconol, lecithin, ptfe, hydroxyethylcellulose, propylene glycol, simethicone, propylene glycol stearate, propylene glycol laurate, sorbitan laurate, polysorbate 20, methylparaben, propylparaben, diazolidinyl urea.

Revlon seems to win the most ingredients contest. But what is all this stuff? Here's the key answer from our chemist: "Some of the compounds are waxes or wax-like substances that will add bulk (volume) to the surfaces applied. Others have adhesive properties. Most of the ingredients are commonly used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, since they purport to be non-allergenic, non-irritating and moisturizing. The stearates are generally used as binders in pill manufacturing."

So I think we get the picture. These lash thickeners are basically wax and glue to keep the wax stuck on.

And now, back to the test subjects.

Heather was the first to finish her testing. She tried Clinque's "Full Potential" first. When questioned on the "full lash" issue, Heather reported happily, "It definitely made my eye lashes visible. They usually seem non-existent." "Full Potential" also did pretty well in the smudging department. "I'd have to say it was pretty much smudge-proof. After my emotional day of celebrating the birth of a new family member and wiping at my eyes a lot, the mascara stayed on. I was also out in the wind quite a bit, which caused more rubbing of my eyes, and it endured. And it lasted all day until I removed my make-up." Heather didn't experience any clumping with the product, and there were no allergic reactions.

Next, Heather tested Lancome's "Magnificels." She reported that "It did accent my lashes, but I wouldn't say three times, as it claims." There was a little clumping, and "It went on very wet. I kept smearing it." As for the lasting power, "Once I had it on to my satisfaction, it did last all day and didn't smudge. I really liked the fact that it felt really light. I forgot I was wearing mascara." She also did not have any adverse reactions.

Heather then tried out L'Oreal's "Voluminous." She did not have any problems with clumping, and "It lasted throughout the day until I took my makeup off that night. Out of the ones I've tested so far, this one made my lashes look the fullest. I think it did live up to the 3X slogan!" She experienced no allergic reactions with this product.

Last on Heather's testing list was Revlon's "Lashfull". "It was a little clumpy when applying. It lasted the day, but did smudge a bit when I forgot about the mascara and rubbed at my eyes." She did agree with the ad campaign in that "Lashfull" did seem to "really bring out my lashes." She had no allergic reaction to it, and no irritations. Overall this was probably her least favorite of the four.

Heather's grading:

L'Oreal gets an A
Clinique gets an A-
Lancome gets a B+
Revlon gets a C

Tey was the next one to finish up her testing quest. Her trial with Clinique's "Full Potential" was satisfactory overall. She doesn't normally wear much makeup, especially mascara, so she wouldn't normally go to department stores for such items. But in the end, the price of Clinique's mascara proved worth it. She reported that "It went on very easily with only one application, lasting throughout the day." She had no clumping and no smudging. Also, there was no irritation with her contacts, a fact she highly appreciated. She had no allergic reactions.

Her testing of Lancome's "Magnificels" was a little less satisfactory. She liked that it was "light and airy," however it did take a few swipes to get it applied right. Once on, there was no smearing, but a little clumping later in the day. Tey said it had a "little of a layered look," that was more pronounced than the volume she would have liked. Also, since she doesn't normally wear this product, the $18.00 it would cost her wasn't very appealing. There were no allergic reactions or irritations associated with this product for her.

Next up for Tey was L'Oreal's "Voluminous". She offered that "L'Oreal isn't too bad a brand, as it stays on relatively well with no major clumping or flaking. No need to re-apply at all throughout the day." She had no irritations or allergic reactions. "All in all, good product at a very nice price."

Tey tried the Revlon "Lashfull" product last. She said the consistency was "fair, clumping just a little." She said it did indeed make her lashes look fuller, "Or so I was told by my family members." She reported that there was a "little bit of smudging, but not too bad." There were no allergic reactions, and "it lasted all day and came off fairly easily." The product also did not irritate Tey's eyes, interfering with her contacts not at all.

Tey's grading:

Clinique gets an A-
Revlon gets a B+
L'Oreal gets a B-
Lancome gets a C

Amy was the next one to finish up her testing. She first tested Clinique's "Full Potential." She reported that it did indeed dramatize her lashes. "This separated my eyelashes so distinctly, and added so much length, that I looked like Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday! (You know, those great, individually-applied false eyelashes fashionable in the 1940's)." Amy said she liked the Clinique scent, reporting it smelled as pleasant as most Clinique products. It did not produce any allergic reactions at all. Overall, Amy liked this mascara a lot. "My only problem with this product was that I could not get it in waterproof, and on me mascara has the tendency to run like a leaky faucet."

Next she tried the Lancome "Magnificels." She didn't much care for this product. Amy disliked the scent very much. "This stuff smelled so bad that I wasn't sure if it had spoiled, like milk (seriously)." It did "pump" her lashes up though, which she appreciated. "It glided easily onto my eyelashes, and the separation was OK." She also reported that it lasted very well throughout the day. There was no allergic reaction or irritation at all. Overall, in her grading of this product, Amy said it was her least favorite, and "the counter people were jerks. I had to figure that in!" That might be an interesting result, because the counter people were rude to me as well.

Amy's next was L'Oreal's "Voluminous." She liked the fact it was a "Good old Eckerd's-bought mascara. No counter people here!" She was also happy that it offered a waterproof version. When questioned about the overall "goodness" of the product, she reported, "It did clump a bit, however, after a little work with the eyelash brush, my lashes looked brilliant! Very volumizing!" There were no allergic reactions and the smell was pleasant enough.

Revlon's "Lashfull" was last up for scrutiny. Amy had the urge to be biased: "If I was allowed to factor in previous bad experiences with Revlon products, the average would have been lower!", but she managed to put that aside and give it the old college try. "It plumped up my lashes, but I looked like I had applied it in a moving car. The brush distributed it unevenly (and this was a new tube)." It lasted acceptably throughout the day, which might or might not be a good thing, given Amy's "moving car applied" look. There were no allergic reactions with this product, thankfully. One other complaint of Amy's was on the coloring of the product. "The color was way off! I guess Revlon's 'brown-black' is different from everyone else's. A little too much brown -- it actually lightened my eyelashes."

Amy's grading:

Clinique gets an A
L'Oreal gets a B
Lancome gets a C
Revlon gets a C

After all the other ladies had suffered through the testing process, how could I not offer my own opinion? I chose Clinique's "Full Potential" first. I was pleased right away that it took only one application to get the definite "fullness" it is designed to provide. It lasted all day with no further applications needed. I noticed that it smudged a little more than my normal brand, but nothing that would compare with most products. I think most mascaras do smudge quite easily and this did not. The only smudging I could complain of occurred after I had worked out. In most cases, most mascaras would have all but disappeared! I did not experience any major clumping from this product, and there were no allergic reactions. Overall, I liked the product a lot.

Next, I tried Lancome's "Magnificels." It was the most expensive of the four brands, so you might expect it to be the best, right? Well, not necessarily. It took forever and a day for me to apply it right! I agree with Heather's description that it went on very wet, making it hard to apply without looking a fright. However, once on, it did stay on until I washed it off. It is very light, and I kept forgetting I had it on, so the smearing issue was tested thoroughly! It passed the test rather well. The only major complaint I'd voice is that "Magnificels" was tedious to apply, and gave me that "spider eyes" look. It was a little too pronounced, and I couldn't achieve the clean separation of lashes without using an eyelash brush, which I normally never have to use. I did not have any allergic reaction to this product at all.

Next I tested the Revlon "Lashfull" mascara. I noticed the other day that most of my cosmetics are Revlon, so I had assumed this product would be pretty good. However, I did not care for it. It took several applications to get the lashes fully coated, and still did not provide as much fullness as I am used to with my regular brand. A few more applications were required throughout the day, to keep the lashes most visible. There was no clumping and no allergic reactions. "Lashfull" did tend to smudge, and was very irritating, stinging my eyes. And when I worked out, it did the disappearing act right quick.

I have mentioned my regular brand quite a few times in discussing these products. My regular brand is L'Oreal's "Voluminous," which I truly love. I have been using this product for several years. It provides me with the fullest lashes I can achieve without smudging, and I never have to re-apply it throughout the day. Also, it tends to give my lashes a curled look, without curling them before applying the mascara, which I really love! The only drawback with "Voluminous" is that after a certain amount of time, the product tends to thicken in the container, and will cause clumping very easily. However, if you use mascara on a regular basis, you will usually finish the tube before it becomes too thick. I obviously have never experienced any allergic reactions to this product.

Darcy's grading:

L'Oreal gets an A+
Clinique gets an A-
Lancome gets a C
Revlon gets a C - -

In the end, it seems it's not always "the name" or the priciest brand that is the best. Lancome "Magnificels" is the most expensive of these brands, and most of the testers picked it as their second to least favorite. Clinique's "Full Potential" seems to be worth the $11.00 it will run you, according to our testers. As for the drugstore brands, L'Oreal was favored over the most expensive department store brand, and with good cause! I would recommend it to anyone looking for "fuller" lashes. It truly does live up to it's "3X Fuller Lashes" claim. Revlon didn't fare as well, but several of the testers did like it. Amy and I did not.

Toting up the results, I'd suggest you forgo the Revlon and Lancome mascaras, and give the other two a try. The results could be eye-catching!

The ladies final grades were:

Clinique A-

L'Oreal B+

Lancome C+

Revlon C+

(Editor's Note: Dermatologists and cosmetologists strongly recommend replacing your mascara every 3 months, and never sharing it with anyone else.)

Please let us know about your experiences with volumizing mascara!  Click here to send us an email.

Return to Page One