I received a lovely and thoughtful gift of this mascara sampler for xmas 2013 from my mother, who knowing my skepticism regarding the cost of high end beauty products, told me to give ’em a try to “find out if it makes a difference or not”. Below are the mascaras reviewed in no particular order (just how I pulled them out of the box day to day). Accompanying my own assessments are the ratings from Paula’s Choice as available, as I do find that their ratings on products outside their own line to be quite fair, and quick to point out if a harmful ingredient is included that may cause issues, which I greatly appreciate. When I reference a “heated curl”, this is when I heat up my eyelash curler for a moment with a blowdrier, tested quickly by a touch on my inner arm (much like one would with a baby bottle) to make sure it won’t burn me, then used to curl lashes as normal.
Benefit Bad Gal: 6/10, Average review on Paula’s Choice (and I agree)
-Overly large brush, not great for deep set eyes like mine as it kinda bumped skin a bit.
-Very good singular lash definition even at 4 coats. No real clumping or need to comb out.
-Decent length at 4 coats, but lack of volume.
-Took a curl reasonably well (non heated). Edit: Curl dropped out within the hour.
-Glossy black well separated finish, flexible
-Small flakes at a few hours.
-Minimal eye irritation.
-Top and bottom eyelashes occasionally slightly stuck together when blinking, likely due to glossier formula.
-2 face washes to remove.
-This product would be good for someone not looking for volume, but for an enhanced natural look with slightly longer, well separated and glossy lashes.
Shiseido Perfect Mascara Full Definition: Poor review on Paula’s Choice due to the alcohol content, and I agree. Might not test.
-Alarming smell of strong alcohol right when tube is opened, and ingredients does list it. Apprehensive about testing this as I worry it will sting my eyes.
-This product would be good for no one, don’t put alcohol in your eye.
Note: tested product carefully and briefly and determined it was possibly formulated for asian eye shape challenges (from personally heard anecdotes from friends and colleagues – application, performance and smearing/smudging concerns due to monolids, the alcohol content would make it dry faster to circumvent this)
Clarins Wonder Perfect: 9/10, Best rating on Paula’s Choice (and I agree)
-Incredibly deep velvety black shade. I’ve never seen a mascara so intensely dark.
-Non glossy, velvety matte black finish.
-Some clumping at 2 coats.
-Wetter formula, normal sized manageable brush.
-Made lower lashes look very long
-Applied a 3rd coat when dry, crazy length although there were some clumps to comb out, they weren’t too bad
-Took a curl but drooped as it was non heated
-Dry and non sticky, no flakes so far
-Zero eye irritation
-Still somewhat flexible when dry, not entirely crispy
-Seems a bit water resistant. Washed off after 2 full washes. Eyelashes felt soft when cleaned.
-So far clear frontrunner.
-This product would be good for someone looking for a rich, velvety plush lash with length and volume.
Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color: 8/10, No Paula’s Choice review on this particular kind at time of review
-Standard spool style brush of normal size which suits my needs just fine.
-Decent black matte color.
-Minimal clumping even at 3 coats
-Built more length than volume, but built reasonably well by 3 coats
-Drier formula which I find is easier to work with for cleaner multiple coats
-No eye irritation
-Nice fanned out fringe that took a curl ok (non heated), didn’t immediately fall out
-Bit of flaking when touched
-Dried soft and flexible
-Top and bottom lashes stuck a tiny bit when blinking, but this was at 3 coats.
-This product would be good for someone looking for a well rounded every day mascara that performs well but not a huge amount of volume. Good for a quick office look on a rushed morning.
Lancome Hypnose Drama: 5/10, Average Paula’s Choice review (she was more generous than I)
-Large, S shaped wavy brush picked up and deposited huge gobs of product even after being scraped off.
-Clumped. Lots. Even at just one coat. Had to brush it out to give it a chance.
-Started flaking within minutes of drying.
-So gobby I didn’t want to apply another coat. Edit: took risk with another coat. Spider lashes.
-Lower lashes looked short even after application.
-Light rose scent as many other Lancome eye products. Doesn’t bother me, but eye products don’t need fragrance.
-Took curl well.
-Lashes still soft when dry.
-Washed off easily in shower.
-Note: This mascara’s formula reminded me a lot of L’oreal’s other offerings (L’oreal owns Lancome) only L’oreal’s brushes perform much better with their more manageable size and shape.
-This product would be good for: Tammy Faye Bakker, drag queens
-Tried this mascara with a preferred brush wand from Maybelline Full n’ Soft and it performed somewhat better
Note: read a few other reviews of this product that circumvented all the goop and clumping by wiping off most of the product on a tissue prior to use, but I will be damned if I’m going to waste the majority of a costly beauty product by throwing it away before it even gets a chance on my face. A high end product should work out of the box without any screwing around to get it to function well (or in this case tube).
Smashbox Eye Brightening: 8.5/10 No Paula’s Choice review on this particular kind
-Average size dense bushy brush
-Good matte black shade
-Separated eyelashes, still ok separation at 2 coats
-Built pretty good length and ok volume at 2 coats
-Wouldn’t want to go more than 2 coats as it was already getting a little spidery/furry
-Very resistant to flaking, even when I tried to make it flake, would be great for contacts
-Dried soft and flexible
-Seemed to hold a non heated curl better than most
-Washed off easily but did sting a little tiny bit when the watery mascara got into eyes, not enough to be a deal breaker though
-This product would be good for someone who wants to only put on one fast coat and have effective results for a quick daytime look.
-A very close second pick out of this bunch of 6.
Bourjois Non Oily Eye Makeup Remover 6/10
I did not find that this product performed any better or worse than any other remover that I have, and I have a range from no name cheapies to high end as well. It claims to be non oily, but does have that super slick thin oily silicone feel. Anyone who has ever applied flea drops to the back of their dog or cat’s neck knows this particular slick oily but not oily feel. Left remains of waterproof mascara despite claiming to be “ideal for waterproof makeup”. As always, still had to wash face as usual after use to remove all traces of both the makeup and remover.
So, in conclusion, was the high end worth it? The answer is “sometimes”, and unfortunately on a case by case basis as different things work well for different people. If you have a drug store product you love love love, by all means don’t waste your cash searching for the elusive holy grail product, you will only disappoint yourself. If you are like me, and your favourite has been discontinued and/or is impossible to find (my beloved Maybelline Full n’ Soft waterproof) then by all means grab one of these sampler packs and have some fun! The best part was the gift certificate for a full sized mascara, free, once you pick your favourite!