The Starting Off Project, Week 6: Mascara!


I can’t believe it’s Week 6 of the Starting Off Project already! Check out my posts on skincare, concealer, foundation and blush by clicking on the one you want to see. This week, we’re discussing mascara, a subject very close to my heart, so let’s get going!

Mascara was probably the first item of make up I ever used besides little-kid glitter. In my early teens, I had a brown-black Natural Collection mascara that did absolutely zilch to my lashes, but made me feel really made up. Since then, I’ve moved on to slightly more dramatic lash looks, but I’m still searching for the perfect mascara. This little post will mostly only focus on black, everyday mascara, since I have no experience with coloured mascaras, clear mascaras, lash primers, false lashes or anything beyond a little bit of a boost to my lashes.

Why bother?

Mascara comes in several forms, but its essential job is to darken and emphasise your eyelashes. Some people prefer mascara that lengthens, and some people prefer mascara that adds volume; some people use just a tiny bit to make them look more awake, while some people favour loading it on until they look like they have false lashes on. If you have very long, dark lashes, you may find you have no need for mascara, but it can really add that final ‘finished’ look to your eye make up.

How to apply

Once you’ve found a mascara you’re happy with, simply take the wand and stroke it over your eyelashes until you’ve reached the length/volume/colour you’re happy with. I personally only apply one coat of mascara, as I don’t like anything too heavy – and I will warn you, the more coats you apply, the more chance your lashes will look clumpy and fake and a little too much like spiders’ legs for comfort.

My recommendations

It’s quite hard to choose a mascara because it’s not really something you can swatch in Boots. You might have more luck getting an assistant to try some out on you at a posher counter. For me, I think that a good mascara is less about the formula than about the size and shape of the brush, and so I can make a fairly educated guess at whether I’ll like something from looking at the brush they display. Here are some close-ups of the brushes of the four mascaras above:


Top left: No7 360 Degree. Top right: Maybelline The Falsies Volum’Express Flared.

Bottom Left: Collection SuperSize Fat Lash. Bottom Right: Rituals Perfection Volume.

My favourite mascara I’ve ever used is the No7 360 Degree one, which is now sadly discontinued, and this brush is actually dried out (but I’m keeping it on me to compare with brushes in store). This gave nice, natural thick lashes that just looked like I was blessed with amazing volume of my own. I’ve never seen a brush quite like this, with a spiral twist and that interesting cut-out in the middle. The bottom two pictures show very skinny straight brushes, and both these mascaras (Collection Supersize Fat Lash and Rituals Perfection Volume) give a good amount of volume and length, but they don’t leave your lashes particularly thick or luxurious. The Collection is slightly prone to clumping if you use too much. The most dramatic of these mascaras is the Maybelline The Falsies Volum’Express Flared, which has a very big, very curved brush with different lengths of bristles – for me, the wing it creates is too false-looking, and the volume can turn into spiders’ legs too easily. So it’s easy for me to tell that I should stick to a shorter, straighter brush, rather than a huge curved one – but this might be different for you!

Obviously the formula of the mascara itself is also important, but as long as it doesn’t flake or smudge everywhere, I find they are all much of a muchness (Not a permanent solution, since it’ll dry the product out, but applying the Maybelline mascara with the No7 brush actually gives me better results).


The biggest piece of advice I have is that mascara does not need to cost too much. Many people rave about the Benefit mascaras, but I get comparable and in some cases better results from a £5 mascara, rather than a £20 one. Try out some high street brands first, to get an idea of what you like, before you attempt to spend that much on one item!

I’d love to know what your favourite mascara is, especially if it gives good natural volume. Don’t forget to check out other peoples’ takes on this beauty staple by checking the #thesoproject hashtag on Twitter!

Asha x

33 thoughts on “The Starting Off Project, Week 6: Mascara!

      • Yup! I use Benefit’s Better than Sex on the tips – looks like Im wearing falsies all the time. Try it! Better Than Sex is a really thick formula as well and the brush is all encompassing. I feel like Falsies is thin during the first few wears and then it thickens as time goes by (but that’s probably due to time anyway!)

        • Sounds like a good combination for you! 🙂 I really don’t think I can pull off the falsies looks though, so I might steer clear 😛
          I agree, I definitely think that my Falsies has thickened up over time…

    • It’s so funny that the Falsies is what everyone is excited by in this post when I very definitely said it was my least favourite 😛
      By complete coincidence, one of my best friends was passing through Covent Garden the next day and picked it up for me, so it’s safe with her til term starts 🙂 Thanks for offering to leap in though! I’d only had it a week!

    • I love it so much, I’m so sad it’s gone!
      And I know, seems weird to me when I don’t think it’s great… But maybe I’m just silly for buying a product called “Falsies” when I hate a false lash look!

  1. Great set of tips!! My face feels naked without mascara! I used to buy Maybelline Volum Express all the time, but I went over to Lancome after trying out Doll Eye Lashes. The Rituals one sounds very nice though 🙂 x

  2. I have a Benefit mascara, but I don’t like using it very much because it was so expensive! My favourite everyday mascara is a basic Almay one that I got free with something ages ago and now I can’t stop buying!

  3. I love Benefit’s “They’re Real”. The spiky brush allows for good lash separation and coating. However, several Sephora brand mascaras I’ve tried are good and I’ve been happy with Revlon’s mascara. I use the Benefit as a “base” and do 2nd/3rd coats with more affordable options, especially if I need to “waterproof”.

    • I’m so impressed with people who can do two or three coats, my eyelashes just get so mad if I go near them again once I’ve had one swipe! 😛 But it sounds a good way to maximise use from a favourite/expensive mascara 🙂

  4. Hiya! I really like how you have included the images of the different wands/applicators.
    It is sad when good products are discontinued! Atleast you have found a great brush out of the No7 product and can keep using it 🙂
    Lovely tips! I agree that high street products can sometimes be just as good, if not better, than a more expensive higher end one.

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