What are deal-breakers when you're trying a new mascara?

Flaking and being really hard to remove! The flaking drives me nuts all day long, and then anything that’s really hard to remove ends up in my contacts (I wear mine at night only).

— Christine


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Ray Avatar

Lately I’ve just been curling my lashes and setting them with Essence’s clear mascara. You’d be surprised by the number of ways a brand can mess up a clear mascara! Elf’s turns white even if you’re careful about over-application, and most brands add fragrance. To a product that gets so close to your eye!

Codename Duchess Avatar

I hate mascaras with really thin or wet formulas. I have finely textured lashes that look best when they have a lot of definition/separation, and really wet mascaras can make my lashes clump together in a really unattractive fashion.

BooBooNinja Avatar

If it does not hold a curl.

Does anyone know of any non-waterproof mascara that holds a curl for hard-to-curl lashes? Does one exist?

Shana Avatar

UD canonball.
I’ve heard one of my favourite beauty guru rave about it for years and in one of her recent video she said that it’s still her favourite mascara. I decided finally to buy it 2 weeks ago and I really regreted to have waited that long ! It’s really a great mascara. I was in love with Dior it lash mascara before. The cannonball just is The best mascara I’ve ever tried ! It hold my curls, don’t smudge, no flakes, separate my lashes nicely. Why I waited so long before to get it ?! I was like “that girl can’t be Always right” ! But she was right, this mascara is HG product.

Stacy Avatar

This time a year ago, I would have said Benefit’s Roller Lash, hands-down. But it turns out that Lash Sensational by Maybelline is an absolute dead ringer, for about a third of the price. It does the same fantastic job of holding the curl in my naturally poker-straight lashes and giving me lots of non-clumpy volume. So I pay a lot less money, and get the same beautiful results.

Honestly, with the way several drugstore brands have upped their game, Mascara is one product that I refuse to pay high-end prices for any more. It just isn’t necessary.

BooBooNinja Avatar

Thanks, Stacy! I’m trying Roller Lash and gosh, it is disappointing. I’m hoping it will be better once the tube has dried out some. I liked the waterproof Lash Sensational, and I will put the regular version on my list.

Nancy T Avatar

Anything that may run whenever my allergies or an autoimmune disease cause my eyes to water! So at minimum, I require a water resistant formula. I believe Benefit Roller Lash is water resistant, but have not seen that as the brand’s claim? Perhaps I missed something. Also, I HATE flaking!!! My eyes are very sensitive to debris like that getting into them! It hurts like a mofo!

Anne Avatar

If they’re flakey or clumpy they’re a no-no for me. Not a deal breaker but preferred is waterproof versions as they’re more idiot-proof and I do things like accidentally whack myself in the eye.

Christine Avatar

Hey Nikki,

I have Ortho-K lenses, which are hard lenses that you wear only at night. They’re kind of like “braces for the eye” and help reshape it so I have 20/20 vision (or a bit better) in the day. I never wore glasses full-time or ever wore contacts before, so my prescription was pretty light (I think -0.5 in each, maybe -1.5?) and 6-8 hours of wearing them while I sleep = 20/20 the next day and all day. It’s a temporary effect, but obviously like braces/a retainer, if you wear them nightly for awhile, if you had to miss a day or even a few days, you would still retain your 20/20. It’s supposed to be an alternative to Lasik for those that don’t qualify/don’t want to do the surgery, and I know some have suggested it can slow down degradation of vision (I think this is something still being studied). If I ever want to do Lasik, for example, I actually have to stop wearing the lenses for 6 months for my vision to fully return back to normal!

Tracey E. Avatar

It needs to be water resistant, preferably waterproof. It needs to separate the lashes and not cause them to glue together. I can’t stand that.

Gillian Avatar

I only use waterproof mascara because anything else gives me horrendous panda eyes! Smudging, flaking, and generally not being waterproof despite claims are a big no-no. I gave up using a top coat on my mascara because I didn’t like the extra step. I still use it for special occasions just to make sure my mascara can last through tears etc. but no more often than that. Can anyone recommend a really durable mascara because I’ve tried plenty and so few actually last on me.

Dee Avatar

The Korean brand Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make mascara is like cement, especially the water proof one. I’ve tried long & curl, volume & curl each in regular and they’re almost as strong as the waterproof ones. I didn’t see any significant difference in the formula as far as length or volume. I had to buy their mascara remover to get it off. Maybelline (reg & water proof) didn’t work, Sheseido didn’t work, oils didn’t work, Vaseline didn’t work. Only their remover in a tube. If you don’t get it off, eventually it can break your lashes. If you really want something that won’t smudge, this is what I recommend. Good luck.

Mariella Avatar

Flaking, smearing under my eyes (one eye, really – my left – seems to be the one where many mascaras leave a grey smudgey smear after a few hours), looking unnatural – I like my lashes to look natural, just longer and darker but not like bottle brushes) and also removal….I had an IT Cosmetics waterproof product that I simply couldn’t get off!

Áine Avatar

Flaking for sure. I have intense enough dark circles without mascara flakes making that area look darker. I don’t have too much of an issue with smudging these days because my skin has settled on the drier side, but that was also a dealbreaker of mine as a tweenager with ever-so-slightly oily skin.

Sarah Avatar

For me I think it’s clumpiness. My lashes aren’t prone to clumping with mascara, so if something makes it clump, g’bye. Unfortunately the Maybelline Lash Sensational and CoverGirl Super Sizer mascaras can both clump if I’m not very, very careful — so I won’t be repurchasing them when I’m done.

Christine K Avatar

I have very straight eyelashes. So any mascara that straighten my eyelashes after I curl them with an eyelash curler are a no go. But – Unfortunately- almost all of them do…..except one: Maybelline Colossal waterproof mascara. I HAVE to use this mascara as a “primer” before adding a second coat of literally any other mascara brand. Whatever the brand advertises (i.e. lengthening, volumizing…etc) will work. My eyelashes also stay curled all day long.

Sarah Avatar

1) Does it hit my glasses, either from length without curl or from the formula or whatever else?
No: congrats, keep wearing it!
Seriously, if a mascara makes me hyper aware of every time I blink because my lashes hit my lenses, it is my enemy. I hate that sensation soooo much. Plus most of my homework and job require my computer. Smudged lenses and a computer are a headache waiting to happen.

Katie Avatar

If the mascara won’t hold a curl or it smudges. I use waterproof mascara all the time because that’s the only thing that consistently holds a curl and doesn’t smudge. I don’t mind difficult removal as long as I don’t have to check on it all day.

NancyMc Avatar

I have seriously straight lashes, so mascara has to hold the curl from the lash curler and not go straight on me. Also, not a big fan of the wetter formulas.
I usually stay with the waterproof formulas, Maybelline waterproof full and soft is the current favorite.

Jessica Avatar

It has to be waterproof. If I apply regular mascara after I curl my lashes all it does is make them stick-straight again. Also, my skin is very oily so I end up with racoon eyes almost immediately. Waterproof mascara holds the curl and doesn’t end up all over my face.

Astrild Avatar

I need a water resistant formula at least, although I prefer waterproof mascaras because my ayer are very watery. Any other mascara is a no-no for me.

Holly Avatar

Flaking, smudging all over my face, and being difficult to remove. I have to take naps during the day, and I’m still trying to find something that doesn’t smudge from my eyes being closed for one hour.

Amanda Avatar

My deal breakers when it comes to mascara are flaking, smudging (especially since I use waterproof), not holding a curl, and clumping.

Ginny2 Avatar

Flaking is #1, but another for me is when the wand is too dry/the formula is too thing. I don’t want to get tennis elbow from putting on 40 coats! Also, I don’t like tapered brushes much because the end always has a huge glob on it which gets onto my hoods (of my eyelids).

Bon Bon Avatar

Smudging and hard to remove. I have to use a setting spray all over, a primer all over alash primer then heavy doses of mascara. Thin and tiny lashes. I love Dior Estase and Betterthan Sex. Dior being my favorite. It doesn’t ever smudge…but then where would it have room to go.. .lol

Debbie Avatar

Any mascara that irritates my eyes will not work for me. A wand that makes requires a degree in rocket science to make functional is a deal breaker. Finally, a mascara that does nothing for my look, for instance if it makes my lashes look like spiders, or if it just flakes everywhere. And if it is black be black, not off black or almost black.

Sally Avatar

I hate mascaras that dispense too much on the brush when one uses them for the first few times. Wayne’s Goss recommends wiping the brush the first few times it is used. But that can be wasteful.

Stacy Avatar

A mascara formula that goes on very wet has a lot better chance of irritating my eyes for some reason, not to mention leaving transfer smudges on my lids. Once I have that ruled out, it can’t flake, and needs to come off when I want it to come off. The older I get, the more sensitive my eyes are. So anything that I really have to rub and scrub to get off is a non-starter.

Marta Avatar

Mine has to apply well – quick and without clumping (I’ve never had problems with smudging). If it takes too much of precious morning time I don’t bother to use it again.

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