You already know what to do with your collection of makeup brushes, and you also — hopefully – know what to look for when shopping for a hairbrush. But do you know how to pick the right kind of mascara? There are skinny wands, spoolie wands, fuzzy wands, curved wands. And then on top of that, the different formulas to consider.
But newsflash: A mascara formula has little to do with how it performs. There are formulas that are fibrous — have microfibers that help give some physical length by adhering to the tips of your lashes — which are typically the thicker, drier types that can fall and crumble a bit, and then there are formulas that are purposefully lighter and slick. But makeup artists like Los Angeles-based Molly Greenwald (she works with actress Natasha Lyonne) agree that it mainly has to do with the brush and how it is applied.
“The majority of the spectrum of the formulas are going to be dependent on the brush. It’s about getting an even coat, including brushing the tops of your lashes and brushing them in a full fan, not just in one direction,” she says. “When it comes to the lower lashes, the more the better; they’ll always make your eyes look bigger,” Greenwald says you can totally do your thing here, but a smaller brush may help you be more precise. “And I’m a big fan of using waterproof on the bottom, depending on the situation, like humid weather or special occasions.”
But if you are mystified about the selection of mascara wands out there, here is what she has to say about each:
Short, Rubber Bristles
“These are good for clean lengthening and curling,” says Greenwald. “You find them a lot in water-based formulas. They’re going to give you a classic, clean finish that is lengthening but not too lengthening, thickening but not too thickening. It’s just like a nice, black suit or a classic LBD. It’s a really good, everyday mascara.”
Best for: Someone with textbook lashes.
Examples: Chanel Inimitable, Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real, Lancôme Grandiose Extreme Volume Mascara
Dense & Fuzzy
These are the ones with the longer, dense bristles. “They have a lot of crisscrossed bristles, not like a perfect picket fence, so they give a lot of coverage and you’re getting a lot of mascara,” says Greenwald. “They’re also really good volumizing mascaras. If you’ve ever known a redhead or a blonde, you’ll know it takes a lot more mascara to cover our lashes,” says Greenwald.
Best for: Longer lashes
Examples: Tarte Big Ego, Yves Saint Laurent Faux Cils, Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes, Giorgio Armani Beauty Eyes To Kill
Arrowhead or Tapered
This brush starts wide and comes to a point, also known as heart-shaped or cone-shaped. “Those are great for the full lash, or for people with whose eyes go far in from the bridge of their nose,” says Greenwald. “They come to a point, which is there for accuracy and it’s great for getting every little lash: the ones in the inner corner, or the ones underneath.” So, you are getting the big bang of a big, fluffy brush, but it is giving you more accuracy. “You can get the corner of the eyes better.”
Best for: Deep-set, or closer-set eyes
Examples: BareMinerals Flawless Definition, Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant
“The direction you brush your lashes makes a huge difference, so when you get a straight brush, you can end up combing everything away from you — but combing straight up is best. Those curved ones give you a full fan: It forces you to brush them up, and down and help you comb the tops of the lashes, too,” says Greenwald. It helps you hug your lashes from their root to the tip. It is like a contour for brushing the lashes. “These are usually very good at curling the lashes because it makes you brush your lashes in a different way.”
Best for: Straight lashes
Examples: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash, Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl
Givenchy came up with this ground-breaking idea more than 10 years ago. “It’s an argument for why it’s special, it’s about the accuracy,” says Greenwald, who says it is more about having to work the brush differently, going section by little section instead of doing full sweeps as you would with a regular wand. The spherical brush is patented, and it reaches every single lash, which helps with definition and getting those hard-to-reach lashes that most brushes can’t get to.
Best for: If you want to have a little fun
Example: Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes
These wands look like three little balls spooled together in a wand. “They deposit inconsistent amounts of mascara, so you get more of a doll lash, where the lashes are a little more clumped together,” says Greenwald. The lashes end up looking piecey, but not spiky, and you get more clumped separation between lashes. “You get some negative space with the mascara and a chunkier separation.”
Best for: Voluminous lashes
Examples: Fairydops Scandal Queen, MILK Makeup Ubame, Givenchy Noir Couture 4 in 1 Mascara
Skinny & Spoolie
Pick this when searching for perfect, simple lengthening. “It’s great to pick up every little lash and give it a little bit of oomph. It’s very light. You’re not going to get a lot of volume or length, but just a very natural look. Plus, they’re really great for under lashes,” says Greenwald. They are also really great to give a clean, seamless coating.
Best for: Shorter lashes
Examples: Maybelline New York Lash Discovery, Glossier Lash Slick, Eyeko’s Skinny Brush
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