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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

The Pretty Files: Mascara

Hello pretties! In a previous installment of The Pretty Files we talked about winged eyeliner as a way to bring some drama to our eyes. It was a lot of fun, but eyeliner isn’t the only way to bring some simple interest to the eyes. In fact, one of the easiest ways to do so is mascara.

Mascara, or more specifically the act of darkening the lash line to create the illusion of longer, thicker lashes, is one of the oldest and most universal of cosmetics. It dates back to Egypt 4000 B.C. with the use of kohl. However, mascara in a form more recognizable to the kind we know today didn’t really exist until the 19th century. That’s when two men, Eugene Rimmel in Europe and T. L. Williams in the United States, independently made modifications on the home brew formula of ash or lampblack and elderberry juice that women had been using. The simple addition of petroleum jelly (yes, that’s Vaseline, folks) to coal ash created what would become mascara. It was messy and difficult to use, but the product evolved. Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden would improve on the formula in the 1950s, moving from the messy hard “cake” format to a soft, creamy lotion-based product that came in a tube that could be squeezed onto an applicator. Eventually the brush and wand combo was invented and added to the tube, creating the mascara we know and love.

It’s been a long journey but now we have an abundance of lash enhancing wonder mascaras. The real issue now isn’t a messy and difficult to use product but instead on how to find the right mascara to use! You can’t walk through any cosmetics aisle or department and not be bombarded with mascaras that claim to volumize, lengthen, separate, resist water, tube, or extend your lashes. With all these contenders how does one know where to start?

While there are differences between each type of mascara’s formula in actual practice and use I don’t think the differences matter that much (the exception being waterproofing.) What I have found in years of makeup artistry is that any formula can make your eyelashes look great. What I look for instead of a formula is the type of brush and your own application technique. Generally speaking, the thicker and more dense the brush, the more volume the lash will have. The more comb-like the brush, the more length and definition the lashes will have. In terms of application, you can enhance the effect of the brush with literally a flick of your wrist. If volume is your goal, take your full brush, start at the base of your lashes, and gently wiggle the brush side to side as you draw it through the lashes and repeat for up to three coats. Going for length?  Starting at the base, slowly draw the brush straight out and up the lashes, repeat, and then add an extra coat just to the ends of your lashes. Want the full package of length and volume to create a look similar to fake eyelashes without the hassle of glue? Try a mascara power couple! Start with your volumizing mascara and use the wiggle application, then use a lengthening mascara for the second coat. It makes the lashes look incredible!

Now that you have some tips on how to use the mascara and know a little about its history here are my top picks. I did not include a waterproof in this listing as any formula can be made waterproof,  just find the kind you like best.


Credit: L’Oreal

L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess

This mascara has a big, thick brush that gives you big, thick lashes without flaking. Very simple to use. I suggest no more than two coats with this mascara to avoid clumping.


Credit: Lancome

Lancome Definicils High Definition Mascara

It’s not a comb-like brush but this mascara gives very even and uniform coverage and lengthening with exceptional wear and the lashes feel soft.


Credit: Clinique

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara

A teeny little brush makes this great, allowing you to get the bottom lashes neatly but also into those inner corners.  It’s great for blending false lashes with your natural ones.

Power Couple

Credit: Clinique

Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume and High Impact Mascaras

These two used together create super dramatic lashes. Start with one coat of the regular High Impact and follow with a coat of the Extreme and be amazed!

Hopefully these “bests” will inspire you! Of course with any mascara remember basic safety: never share your mascara, don’t pump the wand, and make sure you get yourself a fresh mascara every three months. Until next time!

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2 Comments on “The Pretty Files: Mascara”

  1. shakeystacey April 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Oooh, I love the little history lesson here. I’m going to have to check out your other posts. Thanks.


  1. The Pretty Files: Fall Makeup Trend | The Hudsucker - September 17, 2014

    […] Oh and it’s only $4.49. Just add some mascara (and I have some great suggestions here) and you are good to […]

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